Still Life: 10 Pieces for Solo Piano
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953, and grew up on Long Island. I have early memories of lying in bed at night, upstairs, listening to my mother play the piano. She did not remember much from her childhood lessons, bits of this and that, some Chopin... The spinet piano was out of tune, but I couldn't tell. I listened, in the dark, and I knew that I would play the piano one day. My first experience with piano lessons at the age of eight was enough to make me give it up forever. I played by ear, and reading the notes was like trying to write with the wrong hand. I gave up lessons, but not playing. I learned chords, and rhythms, from the popular songs of the time. When I wasn't in school, I was playing the piano. I've played keyboards in bands off and on since the seventh grade. School dances... beach clubs... long summer days practicing in Bruce Mandaro's basement. I learned to tune pianos while in college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and that career has sustained me for 34 years. I love being a piano tuner, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity every day to work on some of the greatest instruments ever built. But when I am finished; when all the harmonics are lined up, and the piano is at it's best, I play. That is when I practice. Because no matter how technically proficient my tuning is, I never really know the instrument until I play it. I take five minutes here, ten minutes there, and so, while testing the piano, learning it's touch, finding it's voice, I work on my music. Eventually, of course, I did learn to read music. When I was 19 I studied piano and composition briefly in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Wherever I went, I found a piano. Strangers would offer to let me come to their homes and play while they were at work. Music schools always had practice rooms. There were always pianos looking for a temporary home, and I was there to provide it. When my first marriage ended, I was twenty eight, and that is when I started finding my way as a composer. Some of the themes I began during that period have continued to evolve, as I continued to evolve, until they grew into the music I still play today. During my 30's I spent eight years in Los Angeles, working in a couple of bands, one cover, one original. I love classic rock and roll, but when I write I reach into the deeper feelings, the place where, on a good day, passion and longing find balance with tenderness and hope. My best music comes from this place. Great music somehow manages to say something essential and true about life. Better than any poetry or prose, it reaches directly into our hearts and echoes back something that grounds us and helps us remember the elusive and beautiful things that make life worth living. I have tried to write the music of my life; I think I have succeeded. I am happy, because finally, at 54, I know who I am. I am my son's father, and being his father is the best and most important thing I have ever done. He is without question the most wonderful and extraordinary person I have ever known. I am my wife's husband, and working to have a great marriage is the hardest and most rewarding challenge there is. Without her I would not be who I am, and I cherish her beyond words. I am an artist, and grateful for the gifts I have been given. I am proud of how hard I have worked, year after year, to find my style and my sound. I am a piano tuner, a rancher, a friend, a boss, and, though they are gone, still a son, because in every way my Mom and Dad are still with me. I think they would be proud, too.