London Fog Over Muswell Hill


Trying Out New Things, Poetry

Write, write, and keep on writing.

Since the publication of my autobiography last year, I’ve had no real idea of what do next in terms of a writing project.

I spent a few months revising Silent, a young adult novel, but am unsure of how to proceed. Like many aspiring novelists, I find the constant flow of rejections especially difficult to handle.

Last May, I started writing poetry and have self-published several collections on my poetry blog and elsewhere.

Although I took instruction in novel writing, I am a novice when it comes to poetry and only recently discovered that poets often choose not to include punctuation. What a fundamental error on my part, with all the commas and semi-colons!

I don’t feel qualified to give advice on how to write poetry, but the following points apply to all writing and I attempt to follow these guidelines each time I put pen to paper (figuratively speaking, of course):

  • Simplicity
  • Building strong images
  • Engaging with the senses
  • Listening to the rhythm of the words
  • Establishing an overall structure.

In the meantime, I’m working on Beethoven’s Pathetique sonata for piano and studying a number of foreign languages.

Till next time.

A Nasty Cough, And Spring

February, and a touch of spring in the air.

The sun shines but the evenings are chilly. I wear sunglasses most days to protect from the light.

I’m not working on a novel at the moment. I haven’t decided what to do next in terms of writing fiction, but I continue to post poetry on my sister blog.

Today, I spent a while playing the piano and I rattled of Beethoven’s Pathetique and Moonlight Sonatas, along with works by Chopin, Liszt and Brahms.

Meanwhile, I’ve succumbed to a nasty cold and my glands are up, hopefully not for long.

That’s about it for now.

Back soon.

Beethoven, The Penultimate Sonata, And Alfred Brendel

I particulary like the piano sonata op 110 by Beethoven, having studied it myself during my two years on a piano scholarship.

The sonata belongs to a group of works dubbed “Late Beethoven”, and these contain substantial differences to works often described as “Early Beethoven” or “Mid Beethoven”, most notably:

  • prolonged reflective passages, somewhat spiritual, or even eerie, at times;
  • vast virtuoso prowess (for instance in the first movement of op 111);
  • use of fugues (e.g. in the final movements of the ninth symphony and the op 110 sonata).

The op 110, though not as technically difficult as the op 111, poses many challenges to the performer, especially in keeping the audience’s attention during the long reflective passages in the opening and final movements. Beethoven wrote this sonata when he was deaf.

I like Alfred Brendel’s performance of the opening bars of the sonata, reminiscent of a hymn, and I notice that he maintains a strict Classical approach, as opposed to Romantic, throughout the sonata.

I feel the Classical approach (precision, holding back on emotion), has the opposite effect, lending greater authentic emotional depth to the performance and enabling listeners to fully appreciate the lengthy lamentoso arias and the alternating fugues.

The light finger work is impressive and his choice of a slighter quicker speed for the second movement keeps the sonata moving and adds a degree of contrast.

I think that Brendel has an excellent technique and would rank him as one of the world’s greatest pianists.

I include the link to Brendel’s performance below:

Happy listening!

“Hello World”, Blogging With WordPress – Ten Years On

Time flies, as they say, and this applies to the blogging world as well.

Ten years ago, I weighed up the pros and cons, and decided to start a blog.

At the time, I had no Internet access at home. Every Sunday morning, I would visit an Internet Cafe and post blog articles as I devoured several cups of sweetened black coffee.

Additionally, I’d taken countless scenic photos on my phone but could not upload them, as I had no way of getting online with the phone and my computer was pre-historic (almost). I used to get despondent.

The same applies to music. I’d trained as a concert pianist but hadn’t released a recording.

And the writing, of course. I’d written a couple of novels.

I want to excel in the performing and creative arts, but didn’t know how. I started researching self-publishing and approached it with caution.

The last ten years has contained many highs and lows. A couple of my books almost got accepted for mainstream publication but didn’t make it in the end.

I despaired but continued searching the options.

Using WordPress and other online tools, I managed to create a CD of my piano playing, self-publish two novels and an autobiography, release mp3s of my piano playing, share photography, start a second blog devoted to the piano, and more recently a poetry blog.

I’ve communicated online with lots of interesting people.

Crucially, I was able to fulfil another cherished dream: learning a number of foreign language through online resources.

Not bad for ten years.

I’m deeply grateful to WordPress for their blogging services, and to all my readers and followers. And yes, I gave up the sugar eventually and avoid it completely now. But not the black coffee.

My first post from ten years ago, Hello World:

Lancashire born and bred. I moved to Devon to study piano at Dartington College of Arts, Totnes, and then to London where I have performed in the City of London lunchtime concert events. I also write and am working on two psychological thrillers set in the countryside.

I grew up with classical and rock music, but I particularly enjoy playing piano works by Chopin, Liszt, Mozart and Beethoven. I’m currently working on the 5th and 12th Hungarian Rhapsodies by Liszt, along with some of the early Chopin preludes, Mozart’s “Simple sonata” in C and a Beethoven Rondo (in C). I also enjoy playing the Chopin studies, especially the C minor arpeggio study from the second set, along with Beethoven sonatas (“Moonlight”, “Appassionata,” “Waldstein”).

I suffer from RSI in the shoulders, but the playing really helps (even those mad Lisztian sections)!