Improvisations Op. 20, Nos 3,4,5 – Béla Bartók

I played these back in the 1980s while studying with Hungarian pianist György Sebók at the Banff Centre. I was so excruciatingly shy at this time that when the eminent Hungarian violinist Lorand Fenyves heard me play them in concert…

Improvisations Op. 20, Nos 3,4,5 – Béla Bartók

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I played these back in the 1980s while studying with Hungarian pianist György Sebók at the Banff Centre. I was so excruciatingly shy at this time that when the eminent Hungarian violinist Lorand Fenyves heard me play them in concert there and came to tell me that “You sound like a native Hungarian” (this was the ultimate compliment for those of us learning Bartók), I fled the building. I walked around campus until I thought everyone had gone home, then snuck back to Lloyd Hall residence where I bumped right into Mr. Sebók, who fixed me with his gaze. “Why did you run away? You should know that you played beautifully.” I don’t think I played beautifully today; it was a long time ago since I played them and my arm is still complaining, but I needed this music today; the day seemed full of the kind of distance and longing that I always felt from these great masters who were also refugees from their own country.

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