As much as musicians like Django, Monk, Joe Pass and Ravel have influenced my music, it may surprise some that Chopin has also been influential.
At first, when I was quite young, the attraction to Chopin was only due to the fact that he was Polish and I too have that heritage. In fact, it was a language my grandparents spoke. Later, I became very attached to his solo piano works. The Scherzos and Ballades especially caught my attention though the Etudes, Sonatas and Mazurkas also rate high with me.
Many of my solo guitar pieces (especially on the album Quintessence) are my humble attempts at applying my impressions of Chopin to plectrum guitar.
My feelings about Beethoven have a long history. The nuns in Catholic school often told me that I reminded them of a young Beethoven but that had more to do with my hairstyle (similar to this day) and other physical characteristics. I doubt that my nascent musicianship at that time inspired their comments. This was, by the way, the first time I heard the name.
Later, at the age of 22, while hitchhiking through Europe I ended up by chance in Bonn, Germany. All I had with me was a small satchel and my guitar and very little money. I was taken in by a musician and his girlfriend. This musician (Hans Rehse) is still my friend all of these years later. I did not know at the time that Bonn was Beethoven’s birthplace. Of course I visited the Beethoven house and statue in Bonn and later the Beethoven grave site in Vienna.
All of this stimulated my interest in “the great deaf one” as Ravel called him. Every winter for some reason my interest in Beethoven is reawakened. Presently I am listening to the Second Symphony, Second Piano Concerto and the Grosse Fuge on my daily 3.6 mile jog.
There is little doubt in my mind that Beethoven is among the immortal musicians and most possibly the greatest.