Conditions of the Tournament

Music history is replete with stories of artists meeting an early demise: Chopin, Django, Dinu Lipatti, William Kapell, and even Scriabin all passed on young.
Perhaps Lipatti and Kapell are less well known, but they are very important musicians in my estimation. Lipatti (1917-1950) was a fantastic composer and pianist who thankfully left us some recordings, though precious few, and many are of poor sound quality. Thanks to someone like Mark Ainley, who manages the Lipatti website, he is not forgotten.
Kapell (1922-1953) was considered by many to be the greatest of all young American pianists at the time of his untimely death in a plane crash. His legacy is also preserved, thankfully, on record.
While it is hard to reckon with the unfortunate nature of these circumstances, it is, none the less, a reminder that life is full of contradictions–like tragedy and success and the noble fight in the face of adversity.
Lipatti, in particular, who fought lymphoma in the late 1940’s when a cure was not yet possible comes to mind. His last recital which is preserved on a memorable concert recording was practically a “cavalry” experience for him. Short of breath and weak, he still persevered and made memorable, strong music. His death at 33 also lends itself to the Christ-like comparison, but perhaps that’s going too far.
This all puts me in mind of how writer Shelby Foote put these kinds of things into some perspective. Foote said that even though these harsh turns of nature were hard to negotiate, they were still “conditions of the tournament.”


I will soon record a piece I worked on during my two month stay in Naples.
It is called Persnickety.
I proceeded from the title which means:

“Placing emphasis on minor details, fussy. Requiring a particularly precise or careful approach.”

This meant writing somewhat detailed music that also makes a lot of use of space as well as intricate patterns.
This challenge was a good starting point.
I also liked the sound of the word “persnickety”.
It sounds like the kind of title Monk would use.

I labored long and hard on this piece which is something that is becoming my method more and more as I get older.
This approach can pay high rewards if one is patient enough.

When the piece is finished I will most likely have a YouTube video created for it and when that is up and running I will post the link here.
Look for that by Spring.
In the meantime, I am happy winter is nearly over and while I was away, a lot of new performances have been posted on the Shows page.