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Good for you vs. delicious

delicious elena kats-chernin unsent letters women composers Feb 02, 2021


I've been wrestling with the question of finding women composers whose music my students want to play, isn't too difficult, and gives them social capital.

This got me thinking of eating vegetables. Did you know that in Korea, people eat more veggies than many other cultures? Apparently, Korean parents don't tell their children that vegetables are good for them. Instead, they encourage eating vegetables because they're delicious. After learning this, I started eating kimchi. In the beginning I wanted to eat it because I know it is good for me (plus it is a pretty low calorie food), but now, I think it's delish. Stig's not on board with that one, so I sit at the other end of the dinner table, sometimes.

People play the piano, especially as adults, for the deliciousness of it. No adult I know sits down and plays something simply because it is good for her. UGH, who wants that? Actually, the majority of people who want someone to play because it is "good for you" is either piano teachers, or well-meaning parents.

Stig says I need to explain what delicious music is. For some, it's Für Elise, for others it's Bohemian Rhapsodie, and for watchers of Midnight Kitchen, the cute Japanese show on Netflix, it's the guitar music at the beginning. 

One of the problems I've had with finding women composers: nobody can hum a tune from one. (Nobody, doesn't include you, by the way,  because you know women composers.) Today when I was looking for quotes about pianos and music, overwhelmingly the voices were male. Nothing wrong with men, of course, but the lack of women is remarkable, especially since a lot of great performers are women. Where are the women?

I'm on a mini mission, to find compositions for the piano by women which are delicious. No one wants to play "good for you."

The first piece I'm playing around with is Eliza Aria, by Elena Kats-Chernin. It was made popular in the UK with this commercial: Eliza Aria

Originally written for the ballet, Wild Swans, which debuted in Australia in 2002 and was choreographed by Meryl Tankard, Elena created a solo version for the piano in 2007 that she played herself.

My friend, Elissa Milne put me on to her. After watching that commercial, I immediately ordered copies of "Piano Village," and "unsent love letters." Two music books which were published, beautifully, I might add, by Boosey and Hawkes. Through the miracle of the modern world (and Amazon Prime) I received the books in 2 days, and learned quickly that Eliza Aria is a gateway drug, and that the books themselves are full of delicious music. Yum!


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