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LOCAL>> Jeremy Denk – Every Good Boy Does Fine

Presented by Book Passage at Streaming Arts

Mar 25 2022
LOCAL>> Jeremy Denk – Every Good Boy Does Fine

Jeremy Denk photo by Shervin Lainez

MacArthur “Genius” award-winning pianist discusses his memoir with prominent composer/pianist

In conversation with Jake Heggie

A beautifully written, witty memoir that is also an immersive exploration of classical music—its power, its meanings, and what it can teach us about ourselves—from the MacArthur “Genius” Grant-winning pianist

In Every Good Boy Does Fine, renowned pianist Jeremy Denk traces an implausible journey.

His life is already a little tough as a precocious, temperamental six-year-old piano prodigy in New Jersey, and then a family meltdown forces a move to New Mexico. There, Denk must please a new taskmaster, an embittered but devoted professor, while navigating junior high school.

At sixteen he escapes to college in Ohio, only to encounter a bewildering new cast of music teachers, both kind and cruel. After many humiliations and a few triumphs, he ultimately finds his way as a world-touring pianist, a MacArthur “Genius,” and a frequent performer at Carnegie Hall.

Many classical music memoirs focus on famous musicians and professional accomplishments, but this book focuses on the everyday: neighborhood teacher, high school orchestra, local conductor. There are few writers capable of so deeply illuminating the trials of artistic practice—hours of daily repetition, mystifying advice, pressure from parents and teachers. But under all this struggle is a love letter to the act of teaching.

In lively, endlessly imaginative prose, Denk dives deeply into the pieces and composers that have shaped him—Bach, Mozart, and Brahms, among others—and offers lessons on melody, harmony, and rhythm.

How do melodies work? Why is harmony such a mystery to most people? Why are teachers so obsessed with the metronome?

In Every Good Boy Does Fine, Denk shares the most meaningful lessons of his life, and tries to repay a debt to his teachers. He also reminds us that we must never stop asking questions about music and its purposes: consolation, an armor against disillusionment, pure pleasure, a diversion, a refuge, and a vehicle for empathy.

 

Jeremy Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists. Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Avery Fisher Prize, Denk is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He returns frequently to Carnegie Hall and has recently appeared with ensembles including the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. His recordings have reached #1 on the Billboard classical charts and featured on many best-of-the-year lists. His writing has appeared in The New YorkerThe New RepublicThe Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. Denk graduated from Oberlin College, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He lives in New York City.

Jake Heggie is the composer of the operas Dead Man WalkingMoby-DickIt’s A Wonderful LifeIf I Were YouGreat Scott, Three Decembers and Two Remain, among others. He has also composed nearly 300 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. The operas – most created with Gene Scheer or the late Terrence McNally – have been produced on five continents. Dead Man Walking (McNally) has been recorded twice and in 2019 received its 70th international production, making it the most-performed American opera of our time. Great Scott was a 2019 Grammy Award nominee for Best New Composition, Classical. The composer was awarded the Eddie Medora King prize from the UT Austin Butler School of Music and the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope (Scheer) recently received a premiere and live recording. Upcoming are Songs for Murdered Sisters, a song cycle to new poems by Margaret Atwood, and Intelligence  (Scheer, Zollar), a new opera for the Houston Grand Opera.

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Free admission - no registration required for YouTube access (also archived and available to view anytime after)

Contact: 415-927-0960

Email: nmitchell@bookpassage.com

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1:00 - 2:00 pm

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