Blog

I’ve been writing this blog since 2009, but there still seem to be plenty of interesting topics to mull over. You can subscribe (it’s free) to follow the blog by email – each new post will pop into your inbox.

Wall Street Journal reviews my book

Wall Street Journal reviews my book

This weekend my book Women and the Piano is reviewed by Diane Cole in the Wall Street Journal. I don't think my books have ever come to the attention of the WSJ before, so I am delighted to be included. Only subscribers can read the full review, but this link at least...

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A podcast for the ‘Brainland’ series

A podcast for the ‘Brainland’ series

I have done an interview for the 'Brainland' podcast, a series 'where neuroscience, the arts and humanities mingle'. An old college friend, doctor and cellist Steve Brown, interviewed me about how I got started in music, how I got into chamber music, what motivates...

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Edinburgh Book Festival programme announced

Edinburgh Book Festival programme announced

The Edinburgh Book Festival has just announced its programme for this summer. I will be taking part on Sunday 11 August at 6.45pm, talking to Kate Molleson about my book Women and the Piano. I'm delighted to be included in this very popular festival. This year the...

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First copy of my new book arrives

First copy of my new book arrives

The first 'author copy' of my new book arrived yesterday (see photo). After dealing with the virtual version for nearly three years, it is a huge relief to see it actually in print. When my first book came out in 2004, I felt this relief acutely. It had taken a long...

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Another report on the benefits of music

Another report on the benefits of music

On Monday there was a report in The Guardian about the benefits of being involved in music. This time it was, 'Playing a musical instrument or singing is linked to better memory in older age'. To my delight the next paragraph began, 'The piano was especially...

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Concertos from long ago

Concertos from long ago

I was looking through the list of candidates for a concerto competition recently and was struck by the list of pieces they were playing. Mozart (lots), Haydn (several), Beethoven (several), Mendelssohn (several), Schumann (several), Chopin, Brahms (several), Grieg,...

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‘So somewhere in my youth … or childhood’

‘So somewhere in my youth … or childhood’

During the Christmas holidays we watched The Sound of Music on television. Some parts of it will forever be charming, while other parts have not worn so well. No matter - it's still a feast of nostalgia for those of us who remember the film when it first came out. Bob...

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Best reads of the year

Best reads of the year

A reader has asked me to specify my favourite books of the year. I keep a note in my diary of the books I read, and this year I read 42 books in their entirety, plus a few more I didn't finish. Here are my top five favourites: 1. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth....

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Why are most concerts performed just once?

Why are most concerts performed just once?

We were discussing the fact that there are so few concert reviews in the newspaper these days. Time was when most concerts in prestigious venues were reviewed the next day. But now there are few reviews. What gets covered? - the Proms, perhaps, and some special visits...

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Playing the piano to elephants

Playing the piano to elephants

On Saturday there was a lovely article in The Guardian about Paul Barton, a man who plays the piano to elephants at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. The elephants have often been overworked or mistreated before they come to the sanctuary, but it seems that they...

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MAP concert at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh

MAP concert at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh

Welcome to my new website! If you’re a seasoned visitor, I hope you like the new look. Last night I went to a fundraising concert in aid of MAP, Medical Aid for Palestinians. It was arranged at short notice and held in St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. As I bought...

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Heinrich Neuhaus and his ‘Art of Piano Playing’

Heinrich Neuhaus and his ‘Art of Piano Playing’

At a book sale at the weekend I picked up a copy of Heinrich Neuhaus's book The Art of Piano Playing. Neuhaus, who devoted the main part of his career to teaching at the Moscow Conservatory, was the teacher of Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels and Radu Lupu among...

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Playing at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge

Playing at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge

I've been in Cambridge, where I played a solo recital on Thursday at Kettle's Yard (see photo), a delightful art gallery/museum I used to love visiting when I was a student. The audience at Kettle's Yard has a particular character - perhaps it's partly my expectation,...

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A view seen through a window

A view seen through a window

We recently visited a lovely cafe situated on a cliff top near the sea in East Lothian. The walk to the cafe took us along the cliffs in splendid weather with seagulls wheeling around us, a brisk wind blowing (as usual) and the sea sparkling. We went inside the cafe...

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