6 May 2010


We met our neighbor in the lift last week. She praised Angelina for the magnificent piano performance. My daughter promptly thanked her.

Wait a second. I was the one who played Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique just now. As I looked at Angelina, the thought was hilarious. Even if her hands were big enough for the numerous chords in the piece, how could her legs reach the pedals?

From another perspective, while a four-year-old playing this piece must be a child prodigy, mistaking my performance as a child’s reflects my interpretation was superficial. This I tend to agree. I never played Beethoven’s grander works really well. Strong emotion is something I admire but cannot fully grasp.

This brought me back to my memory of Chopin’s Valse de l’adieu (The Farewell Waltz). This piece was written to Maria Wodzińska, to whom Chopin was once engaged. Finding it one of the few easier pieces by Chopin, I mastered the work after practicing for several times. As I finished, my teacher said sadly, “Oh dear. Have you ever been in love?”

It took many more years before I learned what pain was.

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