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



Emanuel Ax
In general, I believe that a composer with a voice will find a way to make that voice work with almost any instrument, and it is up to the pianist to find a way to translate the message…

Paul Barnes
I tend to be drawn to minimalism, which I consider one of the most refreshing aesthetic positions available to today’s composers, audience and performers…

Daniel Beliavsky
I believe that successful contemporary piano music has metric and rhythmic vitality, harmonic novelty, melodic invention, but above all (and as a result of these factors combined), gives the player a dynamic and exciting performance experience…

Michael Boriskin
In a word, life. An animating, energizing force. It matters less whether this is channeled through mental or physical gymnastics, or some sort of intellectual joust, or a shameless, hedonistic revelry…

Martha Braden
…If the composer’s unfolding of that core idea brings a new insight that touches me, then I can move my audience…

Geoffrey Burleson
…I am attracted to music that employs well-integrated improvisatory elements or sections. But I am equally bowled over by the best works that happen to contain highly specific notation and indications…

Phillip Bush
…If the work is successful to my way of thinking, then the fact that it is written for piano is simply a bonus, because then it means I can share my ideas about that piece of music directly with listeners…

Sarah Cahill
…It shouldn’t cause aural or physical pain. Ideally, it should feel good in the hands…

Gloria Cheng
…Strong ideas, clear syntax, a vivid personality, drama, and structure are the elements that I enjoy shaping and responding to…

Winston Choi
…the easier it is for me to identify with a piece, the more lasting appeal it has for me over the long term…

Mirian Conti
To me, a good composition is like a good novel…

Anthony De Mare
…I often look for how beautifully, dynamically and creatively a composer can write for the instrument while engaging the spirit and qualities of the performer’s body…

Tomoko Deguchi
What I find fascinating about contemporary music is the diversity of compositional styles…

Lara Downes
What usually appeals to me is music that reflects some facet of my own musical personality: dramatic, funny, sexy, whatever…

Virginia Eskin
My first response would be, is the work playable? Is it right for my style? Can I get behind it?

Jonathan Faiman
…a fresh slant to old ideas…or new ideas which are presented within a form that gives them ample speaking time while avoiding overstatement…

Judith Gordon
…a sense of ‘necessity’…

Marc-André Hamelin
I would say that my personal ‘filter’ has microscopically small holes…

David Holzman
There are numerous more general qualities which I am grateful to find in a new composition. Among these are honesty, beauty (one knows it when one hears it), organic form (though I can accept squarer structures in a suite) and, for me at least, polyphony…

Aleck Karis
I’m interested in pieces that give the sense that the composer has created his or her own individual sound-world. This is more important to me than the style, or “school” of composition…

David Korevaar
I want music that stimulates my curiosity: there has to be a strongly musical idea behind the notes—a sense of backbone…

Joseph Kubera
I tend not to play to entertain myself or an audience. But I love to bring an audience with me into exciting territory…

Sara Laimon
…I value compositions that offer ample room for interpretation …

Jenny Lin
I dream of ideas so new and radical as to push me to develop completely new techniques—or even an 11th finger…

Guy Livingston
A piece can sit on my piano for months before I make a decision, as I like to let some time pass between each reading…

Teresa McCollough
I don’t think I’m looking for anything different in “new” piano music, than I would look for in the standard repertoire…

Margaret Mills
What I look for in a new piece of piano music is a strong sense of the dramatic coupled with lyricism…

Lisa Moore
In new piano music I look for a strong emotional connection to the work, for example: chills up my spine, tears to my eyes—that sort of thing…

Sarah Nicolls
…I look for a sound-world or language which challenges me but obviously has its roots in musical rather than theoretical thinking…

Marilyn Nonken
…I am looking more for a lifestyle than an aesthetic. I want a new piece that, whether it’s three minutes or an hour and a half, will change how we think and feel…

Christopher Oldfather
…I politely and stubbornly suggest that if you want special sounds that are not necessarily piano sounds, then you might consider writing for something other than piano…

Ursula Oppens
Short and fun—or short and funny… Long and serious is much harder, but extremely important…

Joshua Pierce
Whatever the composer has on his or her mind it must “hit” you in a particular and personal way, otherwise it can be a complete waste of time…

Joanne Polk
I play through a new work a number of times before I decide whether or not I am the right pianist to perform the piece…

Vicki Ray
…intriguing choreography of the hands, compelling, deeply felt arguments, music with a strong profile, music that’s not afraid to be beautiful, be savage, be everything in between…

Marvin Rosen
…I am looking for works that illustrate the various sonorities of the piano. Flashy technique for its own sake is not important…

Haydée Schvartz
What is wrong about using this rich source of expressiveness, this huge lung of resonance, a source to infinite means of articulation and dynamics, great server of the noble polyphony with a nature all its own?

Nanette Kaplan Solomon
…My tastes gravitate toward the neo-Romantic and post-modern…

Julie Steinberg
…While I love a technical challenge, difficult notes and rhythms in and of themselves can be an empty vessel…

Kathleen Supové
…The main thing I look for is some kind of obsessiveness…

Lois Svard
…unique sounds or a different way of playing the instrument aren’t enough. A new piece of piano music must also communicate…

Margaret Leng Tan
I am fascinated by music that breaks new ground…

Robert Taub
…I want the notes to leap off the page, dance around with my fingers on the keyboard, and enter my heart, brain, and soul at the same time…

Daan Vandewalle
…I want new piano music to be realistic…I only play pieces that make a clear statement, a deliberate pro or con choice about something…

Mark Wait
I seek compositions that expand the boundaries of expression…

Kathryn Woodard
…I don’t shy away from technical challenges when confronted by a new piece, but the challenge should exist for communicative reasons, not just for the sake of difficulty…