I wish I’d known that the greats of the past had effectively stacked their decks in their favor by lightening the touches of their instruments and cutting the key dips. I got the message as a student that Horowitz Was God and that if I wasn’t as good, it was because I wasn’t working as hard and Hadn’t Practiced Enough.
And here it turns out that he and other great pianists basically reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to save the ship. Chopin? Asked for a lighter-touch piano with a shallow key dip to make it easier for him to play his own stuff! I don’t know if I can imagine playing a piano with an even lighter touch than the fortepianos that were extant in his day.
The next time someone tells me that it’s impossible to become great without at least having a Steinway grand at one’s disposal as a six year old, I’m going to show them this article, then I’m going to show them Stephen Hough’s blog post about the digital in his hotel room, and then I’m going to hit them in the mouth.
These guys jerry-rigged their pianos. Let me repeat that: they jerry-rigged their pianos. I don’t mind — and I admire them for doing it. But it’s high time piano teachers actually knew this and admitted it openly, instead of pretending that Freddy Choppin’ could play the way he did because he was God. Yes, he was certainly a divine pianist, but he was also not stupid and willing to stack the deck in his favor as much as he could … and it makes him both greater and more human to know that.