What are you looking for in pieces of new piano music? Mark Wait



Mark Wait
Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University

Above all, I seek compositions that expand the boundaries of expression. For me, the most important works in musical history have been those that opened horizons and provided new means of musical expression. In piano music, Beethoven‘s sonatas,

Schumann‘s solo piano works, Debussy‘s preludes and etudes, Schoenberg‘s works, and Webern‘s Variations all have opened new vistas for generations of musicians. Closer to our own time, Gyorgi Ligeti, Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, and Thomas Ad├Ęs have all written music that enters new expressive realms. These composers invite us to listen in a different way, to open our consciousness. Is it necessary for a composer to write in a “new style?” No, many composers today are writing in styles derived from the past, just as Rachmaninoff and others did in the early 20th century. Those works may be well crafted and satisfying on a certain level. But the works that propel music into the future and advance the human spirit will be those that provide a new and unique vision of what is possible. That is the promise of creativity, and of fulfilling the human potential for expression.