Quantity of practice

In the matter of practice, I never urge a student to work so many hours a day. One may be enough. The musician is like a painter, who frequently spends his time in looking at the work he has done, and in thinking what he will make of it, without so much as touching the easel.

— Theodor Leschetizky

S. Hough, Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More, London, Faber & Faber, 2019, p. 137.




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Bassoon and piano
Glenn Gould on recording
Pianist Glenn Gould discussed the recording process with Yehudi Menuhin completing the playback of a Bach gigue: Now, Yehudi, you’ve got to admit that you would not be likely to encounter a sound like that in the concert hall… The point is that, if I were to play that piece in a concert hall, as […]
Vassily Primakov on the role of the arts
“[Art] certainly takes us some place unobtainable. We can go on to say that it enriches our lives – as it has my own. There are many classical musicians I’ve met who are, in my opinion, snobs. They are only involved in certain types of music, seeing nothing beyond ‘classical music’. I think this is […]
The state of opera: 1720s
In 1720 in Italy, opera was largely dictated by the egos of the singers, rather than considering the text, or the composer: The satirical writer Marcello wrote that the opera composer will hurry or slow down the pace of an aria, according to the caprice of the singers, and will conceal the displeasure which their […]
Rossini and food
“After doing nothing, I know no more delightful occupation of eating, eat properly, I mean. The appetite is for the stomach what love is for the heart. The stomach is the choirmaster who governs and operates a large orchestra of the passions. An empty stomach is the bassoon or flute in which discontent grumbles or […]
A monkey on his shoulder
Cellist Walter Joachim spend some time in Calcutta, India. He recalled: “I bought a monkey with which to amuse myself. We played. He was sitting on my shoulders for hours when I was practising.” Joachim practised at least one or two movements of a Bach suite. “I started my day usually with Bach or a […]
Mozart improvising
In 1777, Mozart was having lunch with his uncle at the Holy Cross Convent in Ausburg. Mozart played a sinfoni and Vanhall’s Violin Concerto in B. In the evening, at supper, he performed his Strasbourg concerto, a keyboard prelude and his Fischer Variations (K179). It was suggested to the deacon of the Holy Cross Conen, […]
Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Sonata No. 4
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Cello and piano String ensemble
Figaro and an egg
“I always have a hard-boiled egg. A three-minute egg. Do you know how I time it? I bring it to the boil and then conduct the overture to The Marriage of Figaro. Three minutes exactly.” Sir John Barrirolli Cited in: The Music Lover’s Quotation Book. Ed. Kathleen Kimball, Robin Peterson & Kathleen Johnston. Toronto (Canada): […]