Tag Archives: Chopin’s Ballades

Can you master Chopin’s Ballade No. 1?

Hot on the heels of the publication of his book ‘Play It Again’, Guardian editor and keen amateur pianist Alan Rusbridger and publisher, Jonathan Cape, are organising a competition for amateur pianists to showcase their talents to the world.

If you have what it takes to play Chopin’s ‘Ballade No.1’, submit a video of your performance to YouTube, to be in with a chance of winning:

  • A trip to London
  • A piano masterclass
  • A chance to meet Alan Rusbridger
  • A tour of the Guardian offices
  • A year’s subscription to BBC Music Magazine

Judges:

  • Alan Rusbridger (Editor of the Guardian)
  • Oliver Condy (Editor of BBC Music Magazine)
  • Andrew Clements (Guardian Music Critic)
  • Erica Worth (Editor of The Pianist)
  • Lucy Parham (Concert Pianist)
  • Alex Bowler (Editor at Jonathan Cape)

Pianists of all standards and levels of experience welcome

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: March 8th 2013

Further information, entry form and full terms & conditions here

Check out the Play It Again website for piano and Ballade-related content, including interviews, video clips, articles on the brain and music, and much more

Murray Perahia plays Chopin’s Ballade No. 1:

Redefining the “amateur pianist”

I am very much looking forward to reading Alan Rusbridger’s forthcoming book Play It Again: Why Amateurs Should Attempt the Impossible in which he describes the monumental task he set himself to learn Chopin’s First Ballade in just one year. The Ballades are considered some of the most challenging pieces Chopin wrote and are amongst the most popular with concert artists and audiences around the world. While he was studying the piece, Rusbridger was also kept exceedingly busy by his day job, as editor of The Guardian newspaper at a time when a number of major stories broke, including Wikileaks and the phone hacking scandal, so the book is also an account of how Rusbridger balanced his day job with his love of the piano.

Alan Rusbridger at the piano (photo: Graeme Robertson)

Rusbridger is a keen and very competent amateur pianist. A hundred years ago the word “amateur” was a compliment: indeed its Old French origin is “lover of” (from the Latin amator). But the meaning of the word has changed and has come to mean “hobbyist” or a certain cack-handed incompetence.

I have met plenty of “amateur” pianists – at courses, masterclasses and other piano events – and many of them are very fine pianists, who play to a near-professional standard and with the same commitment and devotion as the seasoned pro. Some studied at music college or conservatoire but decided not to pursue a career as a professional musician, some learnt as children and continue to learn, as adults. Others have come later to the instrument, or returned to it after a long pause (as I did). But all of the amateurs I have met (and I include myself in this description) love the piano and its literature. Some of us perform, many of us are studying for exams or diplomas, others are happy to play purely for pleasure. We don’t really like the tag “Sunday pianist”, because many of us practice every day, often for several hours. We are incredibly committed and we love every minute of the time we spend at the piano. I very much hope that Alan Rusbridger’s new book will redefine the word “amateur”, casting it in a positive light and proving that it needn’t be synonymous with ineptitude or lack of skill.

More about amateur pianists here

I will be reviewing Alan Rusbridger’s Play It Again after the book is published on 17th January.

Alan Rusbridger goes to piano boot camp