Tobias Picker: Four Etudes for Ursula

Tobias Picker, an incredibly active and decorated American composer, was commissioned in 1996 by Northwestern University to write a piece for Ursula Oppens to premiere at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, the Konzerthaus in Berlin and Theatre des Champs-Elysées.

The four etudes tend to fall into two categories in terms of musical approach – lyrical writing [closely tied to Picker's operatic style], and mechanistic writing [a style epitomized by George Anthiel's Ballet Méchanique in the 1920's].

One of the musical tools that Picker exploits a great deal in etudes 2-4 is polyrhythm. Polyrhythm occurs when two conflicting rhythms share the same space – they usually adhere to the same meter, but subdivide the beat differently. Picker uses polyrhythm in incredibly sophisticated and effective ways in the Etudes for Ursula.

Can you find the polyrhythm in these examples?


Elliott Carter: Caténaires

The New York Times called it “an insistent, rich-textured, unabashedly virtuosic roller coaster of a piece” in the review of the surprise premier given by Pierre-Laurent Aimard in 2006.

A caténaire is a chain that delivers electric current to a train. Mr. Carter’s work is, as one might expect, an unrelenting chain of 16th notes, and, if played well, quite electric. The pianist must traverse the length o the keyboard with incredible grace to stay in control of this moto perpetuo.

2014 World Piano Competition application deadline extended

Applications will be accepted through March 22! Be sure to send in your materials for a chance to win $20,000.00, a New York recital debut, and a concerto performance with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Start your application today. Application requirements can be found here

Alexander Yakovlev at Carnegie Hall May 11


Russian pianist Alexander Yakovlev is one of the most engaging and inspired artists working today, and for the past eight years he has been a formidable presence at international piano competitions.

Yakovlev will present a recital at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 2PM. Tickets are $15 and available through or by calling (212) 247-7800.

In 2006, Yakovlev took the Grand Prix at Cultural Association “Fryderyk Chopin,” and the “Roma” International Piano Competition before winning first prizes at the “Neue Sterne” in Germany, the  Moderne Compositore in Madrid, and the 2012 World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This New York debut is part of the prize awarded by the World Piano Competition, an organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating the art of classical piano music.

This recital also kicks off the season for the World Piano Competition. In June, 24 competitors will travel from around the globe to Cincinnati to compete in the 2014 competition, where one exceptional artist will win $20,000 and the very same New York debut.


Sunday, May 11, 2014 | 2 PM

Tickets $15

Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall

(212) 247-7800

For more information, contact Laura at or 513.744.3501

Check out what else Cincinnati is up to in New York here.

David Rakowski: Selected Etudes

David Rakowski is probably best known for his cycle of 100 piano etudes. The the cycle is difficult, or in Rakowskis words “it’s not just hard, it’s damn hard, or in Maine, wicked had,” however audiences and seasoned pianists have gravitated to the works. With fun names like “Silent But Deadly” (38), “Sixth Appeal” (39) and “Plucking A” (13) it’s hard to not want to hear what Mr. Rakowski has captured on pen and paper.

The etudes available to pianists this year include:

Etude #11: Touch Typing
Etude #14: Martler
Etude #21: 12-Step Program
Etude #25: Fists of Fury
Etude #28: You’ve Got Scale
Etude #30: A Gliss is Just a Gliss
Etude #33: Sliding Scales
Etude #40: Strident
Etude #61: Menage a Droit
Etude #68: Absofunkinlutely

Check out this video of Amy Briggs playing “Absofunkinlutely.” Amy has been one of the pianists championing these pieces – working to record all 100.

Aaron Jay Kernis: Superstar Etude #1

Aaron Jay Kernis, who recently left the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute during the recent lockout, is a major figure contemporary classical music. He trained with influential teachers such as John Adams and Jacob Druckman and studied on both the west and east coasts. His music is colorful, imaginative, and evocative. In Superstar Etude #1 the pianist is asked to speak and shout while playing (with elbows!) dramatic passages, often at full volume. Kernis is redefining the showpiece.