Flying and Dying with the White Swan

The swan - majestic, elegant, fragile. © Charles Thibo
The swan – majestic, elegant, fragile. © Charles Thibo

Swan lake – If I were to pick a moment of extraordinary magic while enjoying classical music, it would certainly be Tchaikovsky’s ballet (Op. 20) being performed in Vienna in the Staatsoper. What an experience! What a masterpiece! What a production! Words fail me when I try to describe the intense sensations I had during those three hours.  Perfection all over the place, Kiyoka Hashimoto as Odette/Odile, Denys Cherevychko as Siegfried, the orchestra, the little swans, Luisa Spinatelli’s stage design…
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Piano, Pianissimo – About Teaching

I find it hard to pass that piano without touching it. © Charles Thibo
I find it hard to pass that piano without touching it. © Charles Thibo

A year ago, I decided to start learning to play the piano – after mulling over this secret wish for many years. I am extremely motivated and that’s why I am sorry to realize that over the past 200 years, piano lessons have been a headache for pupils and teachers alike. At least that is the impression I get from reading biographies of composers. All complain about untalented, unmotivated and/or undisciplined pupils, while the pupils themselves lament over monotonous lessons and uninspired teachers. In the 18th and 19th century, many composers had to earn their living by giving lessons. This was not exactly the best motivation, I guess. Today however, music schools produce dedicated teachers with at least some pedagogical training, training material is abundant, and it still seems to be hard to motivate pupils to stick with their lessons.

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Wargames at the sound of Tchaikovsky

My old school. A teacher sparked my interest in classical music. © Charles Thibo
My old school. A teacher sparked my interest in classical music. © Charles Thibo

This is where the journey starts: my old school. It is here that I first heard the name of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I was 12, and Pjotr has become my all time favourite composer since then. Like so many other boys of that age, I was interested in bikes, girls, soccer, Formula-1 pilots etc. NOT in classical music. But our music teacher found a way to get his message through. He counted on our rising level of  testosterone and our interest in all things related to war.

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