Simone Dinnerstein on How Bach Looks Ahead to Pop

Inspiration for Going Back to Piano Practice

Simone Dinnerstein discusses the Prelude in B Minor in an interview with Nancy M. Williams. Full video premiering on 11/12/13.
Having recently gone back to piano practice, I appreciate how Simone Dinnerstein, an internationally renowned concert pianist, doesn’t shy away from connecting classical music to other musical movements. The innovative chord progressions of the Bach Prelude in B Minor, transcribed by Alexander Siloti, make her think of jazz and pop music, and she doesn’t hesitate to talk about that in an interview.

Once, when I was a teenager, my piano teacher—a middle-aged, classical music devotee—asked me during a lesson, “You don’t listen to rock and roll music, right?” Not one to want to shock an adult, I said, “Not really.” My reply secretly meant, “Well, yes, of course I do, but my answer is technically ‘no’ because I would never refer to my genre-bending favorites as ‘rock and roll.’ Wrong decade, lady!”

Plus, I considered my musical taste more sophisticated than the relentless drumbeat and simple, repetitive chords that my piano teacher was probably thinking of when she asked me that question. At home, I listened to complex Radiohead (profiled in Alex Ross’s Listen to This), deep Lauryn Hill, and funky (for the suburbs) Dave Matthews Band—not the classical recordings she probably was hoping I did. But I loved the work of those artists for the same reasons I loved—and still love—inventive pieces like the Bach Prelude in C Major. (And now after listening to Simone Dinnerstein’s moving rendition of the Prelude in B Minor, I’m adding that music to my list.)

In the full interview, premiering 11/12/13, Simone Dinnerstein shows her down-to-earth, human, very likeable qualities.

In the full interview with Nancy M. Williams, premiering 11/12/13 on GRAND PIANO PASSION™, Simone Dinnerstein shows her down-to-earth, human, very likeable qualities that we don’t often associate with the perfectionist world of professional classical musicians. Her refreshingly modern and open take on the Bach Prelude in B Minor is encouraging, rather than intimidating, for those of us taking adult piano lessons. Yes, she first encountered the Prelude on YouTube, and isn’t afraid to tell us so.

The purism and elitism that sometimes go along with Western classical piano music were always my least favorite aspects of the genre, and were part of the reason I was initially turned off from practicing the piano past my teenage years. So it’s inspiring to listen to Simone Dinnerstein’s new album, Night, in which she fuses her piano virtuosity with the folksy voice and guitar of fellow artist Tift Merritt. Classical piano music, for her, doesn’t need to be locked away in a glass tower.

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