Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Celebrated concert pianist Thomas Pandolfi joins M Institute for a special Masterclass and Livestream performance. He discusses both events, the benefits of Masterclasses, Chopin and more in this exclusive interview.
Masterclass on May 27
Thomas Pandolfi will give an online piano masterclass on May 27th presented by M Institute. Even though it is virtual, it will follow the standard masterclass format; participants will play for Pandolfi and he will give insightful feedback. Pandolfi shares, “I will make constructive, and hopefully helpful, meaningful remarks that will stir creativity and ignite inspiration, causing a desire to probe deeper into each individual score.” Masterclasses are a great opportunity to take a work to the next level musically and are applicable to musicians at every level.
Open to Musicians at All Levels
Masterclasses are a source of inspiration and a helpful tool for professionals, amateurs, and everyone in between. “I invite not only the participants who will perform in the masterclass for me to sign up, but also their teachers, piano teachers in general, lovers of the piano, of piano repertoire, piano students, or just those curious about how a masterclass works, to register,” says Pandolfi. “We will have a fun and productive time!”
While students will certainly learn a lot when receiving feedback from a master teacher, one of the most important aspects of a masterclass is watching the other participants perform and hearing the feedback given to them. Students pick up on the insights shared with fellow musicians and can apply the tips to their own practice.
Masterclasses provide more than helpful feedback, they provide a community of musicians. It is easy to feel isolated in these surreal times, connecting with other musicians is a way to connect. “The online interaction will be stimulating and fascinating,” says Pandolfi. “Everyone will learn from the exchange of ideas.” Hearing other people perform provides context and community when developing a musical practice at any stage.
Pandolfi’s Livestream Recital on May 24: Chopin, Respighi, Debussy, Gershwin
Pandolfi will present an upcoming concert featuring works by Chopin, Respighi, Debussy, and Gershwin. Chopin holds a special place in the piano repertoire for Pandolfi. “My love for this composer has grown to the point where I would consider him to be my "desert island composer." I feel that Chopin is the most perfect composer for the piano,” says Pandolfi. “He so effortlessly and beautifully marries the two essential elements of virtuosity and poetry.”
Chopin Is Part of Pandolfi’s Musical Lineage
Studying Chopin is in Pandolfi’s musical lineage and is a deeply rooted part of his musical practice. “In my early years, I had a teacher who was born in Poland, studied there, and then traveled to Philadelphia to study with the legendary Rudolf Serkin at The Curtis Institute,” says Pandolfi. “Naturally, one composer I was assigned frequently was Chopin.”
Pandolfi will start off his livestream recital with the popular “Military” Polonaise, another program highlight includes the Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2. “[This work] displays Chopin's ability to transform the piano into an instrument that ‘sings’,” says Pandolfi. “Chopin fell in love with several beautiful sopranos, and no doubt their beguiling physical and vocal beauty inspired the young composer to write such glorious melodic lines.”
Respighi’s Lesser Known Piano Works
When you think of the Italian violinist and composer Respighi, the first thing that comes to mind is the epic Pines of Rome, but there is more to Respighi than just this work. “His interest in early music from the 16th - 18th centuries often influenced his composing,” says Pandolfi. “His piano music is unfortunately not as well known, but the G-flat Notturno is disarmingly gorgeous, and will be new to most listeners.” The audience will get the opportunity to hear Pandolfi’s interpretations of these lesser-known gems in his livestream recital.
The Beloved Clair de lune
There are many beloved “Moonlight” sonatas in classical music, including works by Beethoven, Fauré, and of course Debussy. Pandolfi will perform Debussy’s entrancing “Moonlight” sonata on his recital. Pandolfi shares, “it is one of the most beloved pieces in all of concert music, and a work that audiences love to hear whether on the printed program, or as an encore.”
Gershwin’s Beloved Songs
The livestream concert will conclude with Pandolfi improvising on a number of Gershwin’s beloved songs. Performing Gershwin’s music was a breakthrough moment in Pandolfi’s career. “Initially, my interest in Gershwin's music was sparked after winning The Juilliard Concerto Competition with Gershwin's Second Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra ("New York Rhapsody"). The winner's performance in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall with The Juilliard Orchestra, Andreas Delfs conducting, was a resounding success,” says Pandolfi. “The next morning, I learned that Morton Gould was present in the audience; he had called Juilliard and requested to ‘meet the young man who played the Gershwin because it was the finest performance of Gershwin I have heard since the composer played it himself!’” Pandolfi has been programming Gershwin regularly ever since.
Join us to hear Thomas Pandolfi on May 24 for the Livestream Recital and on May 27 for the Masterclass.
About Thomas Pandolfi
Thomas Pandolfi is one of the leading pianists of our time, hailed a “phenomenon.” He began his career early on while at The Juilliard School (BM & MM) where the young prodigy caught the influential ear of Vladimir Horowitz, who would become his mentor, and legendary composer, Morton Gould. Since then he has been an audience favorite, selling out the world’s most prestigious stages, including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Strathmore, The Kennedy Center, Kiev Opera House, Bucharest’s Romanian Athenaeum, London’s Cadogan Hall, and many others.
DC Metro Arts calls him, “exhilarating… a rare mix of technical accuracy and cool confidence.” “His artistry and technique were simply astonishing,” said the Metropolitan Arts Reviews. The Washington Post boasted he is a “master of both the grand gesture and the sensual line… Pandolfi's large-scale pianism seemed under tight control yet in no way muted the passion of his performance… projected with an exquisite sense of lyrical gesture.” “A standout among today's young pianists... His virtuosity and strength… might have had some believing that Liszt himself had taken over the keyboard,” said the Asheville Citizen-Times. “The mastery of the scores, the precision of the playing, and the finesse of the expression were all simply spectacular. It was a truly bravura performance, both in the virtuosic and in the reflective pieces, yet one completely without gratuitous exaggerated display,” acclaimed The Boston Musical Intelligencer.
In addition to being recognized as one of the greatest interpreters of the Polish masters such as Chopin, Paderewski, and Godowsky, this versatile pianist has received accolades from everything from Bach to Gershwin, with Morton Gould saying, “It’s the finest performance of Gershwin I have heard since the composer himself.” His original and virtuosic transcriptions of popular works, such as West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera, are one-of-kind, jaw-dropping, and dramatic encores that keep audiences of all ages returning to his performances again and again.
Mr. Pandolfi is a Steinway Artist and will begin recording for Steinway Spirio later this year. Mr. Pandolfi’s performances have been broadcast by PBS, WETA (Washington, DC), WQXR (NYC), WRCJ (Detroit), DCN TV (China), The Sound (DC), and many others worldwide. During his 2019-2020 season, he will complete a 20-state tour of the USA, his fourth tour in China, third tour of the UK, and seventh tour of Romania and Moldova.
Born in Washington, DC into a musical family, Pandolfi began his studies with his father and continued on with principle teachers Sasha Gorodnitzki, Adele Marcus, Gyorgy Sandor. He holds a BM and MM from The Juilliard School.