Sunday, September 15, 2019 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Louis Simpson

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Where is the Mississippi panorama
And the girl who played the piano?
Where are you, Walt?
The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.
--
Walt Whitman at Bear Mountain (l. 6-9) (1962)

 
Louis Simpson

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I'm becoming very interested in non-Western things, and in Europe a lot of what's offered to me is the Western tradition I've grown up with. Now I've got to find a way out, but the problem is that the piano is just about as Western as you can get. The piano's my instrument, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but I'm gravitating quite naturally towards things that have developed my sense of rhythm. "I've come to all this incredible Indian classical music and its more modern formations late in the day; the Messiaen I've played has led me down that road, and I've been following my nose all the time.

 
Joanna MacGregor
 

Once, along with The Transfigured Night, he played a class Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead. Most of the class had not seen the painting, so he went to the library and returned with a reproduction of it. Then he pointed, with a sober smile, to a painting which hung on the wall of the classroom (A Representation of Several Areas, Some of Them Grey, one might have called it; yet this would have been unjust to it—it was non-representational) and played for the class, on the piano, a composition which he said was an interpretation of the painting: he played very slowly and very calmly, with his elbows, so that it sounded like blocks falling downstairs, but in slow motion. But half his class took this as seriously as they took everything else, and asked him for weeks afterward about prepared pianos, tone-clusters, and the compositions of John Cage and Henry Cowell; one girl finally brought him a lovely silk-screen reproduction of a painting by Jackson Pollock, and was just opening her mouth to—
He interrupted, bewilderingly, by asking the Lord what land He had brought him into. The girl stared at him open-mouthed, and he at once said apologetically that he was only quoting Mahler, who had also diedt from America; then he gave her such a winning smile that she said to her roommate that night, forgivingly: “He really is a nice old guy. You never would know he’s famous.”
“Is he really famous?” her roommate asked. “I never heard of him before I got here. ...”

 
Randall Jarrell
 

21 piano sonatas, 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, 18 masses, 13 operas, 9 oratorios and cantata, 2 ballets, 40 plus concertos for various instruments, string quartets, trios and quintets, violin and piano duets piano quartets, and the songs. This astounding output includes hardly one work less than a masterpiece.

 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
 

My pen knows what to do. I close my eyes and I see this girl who glows. A girl who radiates. When she smiles, she beams. She warms my heart. I open my eyes with a feeling of floating past all the garbage around me. I will emerge unscathed because I will not endeavor to hide myself from whatever is coming. Bring on the worst. I welcome it with open arms.

 
Henry Rollins
 

I don't think too much about the electronic thing, except that it's kind of fun to have it as an alternate voice. Like, I've used the Fender- Rhodes piano on a couple of records. I don't really look on it as a piano— merely an alternate keyboard instrument, that offers a certain kind of sound that’s appropriate sometimes. I find that it’s kind of a refreshing auxiliary to the piano— but I don't need it, you know. I guess it’s for other people to judge how effective it’s been on my records; I enjoyed it, anyway. I don't enjoy spending a lot of time with the electric piano. I mean, if I play it for a period of time, then I quickly tire of it, and I want to get back to the acoustic piano.

 
Bill Evans
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