Gramophone magazine review of Speaking the Piano

12th August 2018 | Books, Reviews | 2 comments

A fine book from an underrated pianist

‘When my biography of Leopold Godowsky was first published some thirty years ago [writes Jeremy Nicholas in Gramophone magazine], I prefaced the narrative with a quote from Confucius: “I do not seek to be known. I seek to be worthy to be known”. It is a quote that Godowsky himself was fond of using. It is a quote that could well apply to Susan Tomes.

‘…Her tone of voice is inquisitive, energetic, entrepreneurial, gently provocative ….
Above all – and this is the great value of ‘Speaking the Piano’ – she dispenses insight and information with grace and clarity. Despite its title and inevitably favouring the piano, the precepts she articulates are equally applicable to all instrumentalists – and indeed musicians of every kind, professional and amateur.’

Gramophone magazine, September 2018



  1. Jen Gilchrist

    Is being an underrated pianist more of a compliment, than being an overrated one? I suppose it must be but it also depends on who is doing the rating. For my part I rate your playing and writing highly, though I appreciate I have no standing whatsoever to validate my scoring. I agree with the final sentence though.

  2. Susan Tomes

    Thank you, Jen. I rather agree with you. Perhaps ‘rated’ would be more pleasing.


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