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Steinway Artist

Carol Montparker is a Steinway Artist.

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The Composer's Landscape The Composer's

The Pianist as Explorer

- Interpreting the Scores of Eight Masters

by Carol Montparker

Amadeus Press

A discerning examination of eight composers
and their masterworks, through a pianist's eyes.

Derived from a popular series of lecture-recitals presented by Carol Montparker over the past several years, The Composer’s Landscape ($29.99, September 19, Amadeus Press) features eight insightful essays on the piano repertoire. Each chapter focuses on a single composer: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and Carol Montparker Mendelssohn. Montparker uses landscape as a metaphor for the score, whether it be a well-tended garden of Mozart or the thorny thickets on a Schumann page: the topographical peaks and valleys, the circuitous melodic lines, the thoroughfares where all the voices convene, and so on. The discussions include thoughtful suggestions for navigating these landscapes, which differ so greatly from one composer to the next, taking note of the essential technical and interpretive elements, as well as the challenges for the “explorer pianist.”

As an actively performing pianist, lecturer, teacher, music journalist, and author of six other books on music, Montparker has the experience and understanding to guide readers through these issues while elucidating the finer points. Woven into her text are excerpts from her interviews with world-renowned pianists, from Alfred Brendel to André Watts, conducted during her many years as senior editor of Clavier magazine. The book also includes images from original autograph manuscripts and a CD of Montparker performing selections by composers featured in the book.

A prolific writer and renowned pianist, Carol Montparker is a familiar name to anyone interested in the piano as a literary subject. Her previous volumes received praise from critics and public alike. In fact, one particular endorsement of the Anatomy of a New York Debut Recital (1981) caught my attention: “This superb diary was, without question, one of the most up-put-downable bits of music journalism that I have come across in many years.” That endorsement was written by Glenn Gould. I immediately bought a copy and started reading.

Montparker’s new book, The Composer’s Landscape, reflects the writer’s passion for the art of the piano, and inspires the reader to pursue further reading and listening. Especially helpful are the numberous quotations from a wide variety of experts in the field, including acclaimed concert pianists, celebrated teachers, and writers.

The relaxed writing style makes reading Montparker’s books a very pleasant activity. Her many years as a senior editor of Clavier (forerunner to this magazine) provide deep insights into the world of piano, piano literature, pianists, and audiences. Each of the book’s eight essays, inspired by her lecture series The Composer’s Landscape, is dedicated to the works of one composer. A “page from any score,” she says in the introduction, “is a landscape, with its own countours and terrain... a kind of visual depiction of the language.” Throughout, Montparker uses creative metaphors to describe the works descussed, while at the same time engaging help from pianists she interviewed for Clavier.

The essays are filled with pianistic gems. In particular, the writer’s direct connection to Chopin (through her teacher Leopold Mittman, who studied with Alexander Michalowski, who in turn studied with Carl Mikuli, Chopin’s most famous student) makes the chapter about Chopin an especially rewarding one. In addition, the book’s two appendices are taken from two of Montparker’s Clavier articles about the Chopin Barcarolle and the fourth Ballade. In those articles, which appeared in the magazine in 1983 and 1994-5 respectively, great pianists share their ideas about these masterworks. Almost every sentence becomes an aphorism, and it is enlightening to observe occasionally opposite points of view about the same work.

Montparker’s combination of personal experience with the works and input from celebrated masters creates an insightful collection of articles that can be equally enjoyed by both professional musicians and amateur music lovers. The attached CD, which includes the author’s beautiful performances of works by Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Shubert, Brahms, Beethoven, and Shumann, is a great addition. Highly reccomended. (Amadeus Press, 259 pages. $29.99)

Professor of Piano, University of Oregon
Clavier Companion, March/April 2016

Carol Montparker, a leading authority in the piano world is a superb teacher, an in-depth interviewer, the author of dozens of revelatory articles and books, including her admirable short story collection, The Blue Piano and Other Stories; but above all she is a distinguished concert pianist. Her first book, The Anatomy of a New York Debut Recital, has become a classic.

In her latest excursion, published by Amadeus Press, titled The Composer’s Landscape; the Pianist as Explorer she has written an indispensable volume of pianistic and musical wisdom. Her prose is clarity itself, but every page spells passion. This is hardly a volume for just pianists, but for anyone that cherishes the Art of Music. It is divided into eight chapters exploring in depth, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and Mendelssohn. In each chapter of The Composer’s Landscape Carol Montparker roams far and wide, indeed revealing new vistas. The book contains an important bonus, a CD of her own beautiful playing of these composers she loves so well.

Author, Pianist, radio host, Professor at Juilliard School of Music

Carol Montparker is a well-known author and editor. She has written six previous books and was the senior editor of Clavier Companion for 15 years. However, what makes her new book The Composer’s Lanscape so intriguing is her unique perspective, gained over many years, as an active recitalist. Montparker’s “landscape” refers to the score and its topographical look, including musical valleys and mountain peaks. This book is based on a series of lectures she gave as a Steinway artist covering eight landmark composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and Mendelssohn. Each chapter is devoted to an overview of one composer and representative examples of his keyboard music. The book is a fascinating mixture of Montparker’s personal insights and 31 interviews with such famous pianists as Andras Schiff, Claude Frank, Byron Janis, Nadia Reisenberg, Gary Graffman, Rudolf Firkusny, James Tocco, Ruth Laredo, Jerome Lowenthal, Garrick Ohlsson and Radu Lupu, among others.

The book is intended for the serious pianist, not the beginner. Montparker’s writing style is both clear and concise. Her imagery is effective and even poetic. “When we first open a page by Bach,” she writes, “we should feel like a child with crayons, confronted with a fresh page of a coloring book.” Her views are also refreshing. For example, she feels that Bach music must “breathe” and have some degree of freedom or rubato. Mozart’s piano music is operatic and contains characters and caricatures. Beethoven’s music expresses his humanity. Chopin’s beautiful but often difficult music requires attention to careful and consistent fingering. There are many more examples.

One of Montparker’s central themes is that imagination is critical for a truly artistic performance of any composition. It is that quality that separates mediocre pianists from artists. A second theme is that there is never one single right interpretation or approach to a composer. For example, Montparker writes honestly about her own thought process and agony when she added her own cadenza to a Mozart concerto. A third theme is that Montparker prefers to interpret the great masters on modern instruments rather than on period insturments preferred by musical fundamentalists.

The book contains a wealth of information and would make a fine addition to any talented painist’s library. The appendix contains a more detailed discussion of Chopin’s Barcolle and Fourth Ballade. There is also an accompanying CD of Montparker’s performances of pieces by seven of the eight composers.

Northwest Missouri State University

A series of Audio Books based on the series of CDs (below) is being produced by Amadeus Press, to begin appearing in September as well.

Book Revue Book Signing and Talk
Wednesday, OCTOBER 15, at 7 PM
The Book Revue
New York Ave., Huntington, NY

Book Party and Performance
Saturday, NOVEMBER 1, at 4 PM
Steinway & Sons
Route 110, Melville, NY

Carol Montparker discusses The Composer's Landscape in a recent interview on public radio. Listen to WWFM's, A Tempo with Rachel Katz, 23 May 2015.

The Composer's Landscape Project!

Carol Montparker, pianist and commentator

A new series of recordings are already becoming available! Of the seven [2-CD] sets, BEETHOVEN, CHOPIN, MOZART, BACH and SCHUMANN have already been produced: (Each set includes one disc of concert performances, and the other a disc of commentary and program notes, focusing on one composer at a time.) The price for each set is $25. Please see the ORDER page to place your order.

(Later in the year, BRAHMS, SCHUBERT, and MENDELSSOHN will be added.)

The Composer’s Landscape Project emerged from a series of programs I gave at Steinway over the course of two years. Each event was a deep exploration of a single composer’s piano works, (with a focus on the particular challenges of that composer for the pianist), followed by my performances of selected works.

A few words and metaphors will explain why I call the series The Composer’s Landscape. Given, that Music is a language, it also has a broad spectrum encompassing many styles, genres and dialects. In fact, each composer has a language of his or her own, and a page from any score has its own terrain and contours, directly related to, and one might say, a pictorial depiction of the language of that composer. An experienced musician can behold a page from a score and discern whether it is a page of Schumann or Mozart, just from the look of it: the landscape, even though the same system of notation, lines and spaces notes, phrase-marks, dynamic markings, are common to all.

What gets more complex is the “topography”: the peaks and valleys, patches of bramble or thicket to plow through, open plains to traverse, gullies to leap over, winding circuitous melodic lines to follow, clotted harmonies to grasp, busy thoroughfares where all the voices converge, and most importantly, the strata,--layers as deep as the Grand Canyon, which we must plumb and peel away in order to find meaning at the CORE. (The metaphors are endless!)

I have drawn mostly from past live, unedited performances, filling in with recent home-self-produced recorded tracks. Jeff Baker, a crack audio-engineer, miraculously eliminated some coughing fits and slamming doors, and equalized recording levels. But there will be variations between some of the tracks according to the pianos and halls.

Personally, I love what each instrument brings to a performance provided it is as beautiful as the Steinways I have been lucky to use in these recordings. And as these are live performances, and not spliced and diced in a studio, there are some signs of my “humanness” , which I also have learned to embrace, in favor of the spontaneity and continuity. Carol Montparker


Available from and other fine book dealers

A Pianist's Journal in Venice
text & watercolors by Carol Montparker

A Pianist's Journal in Venice
is a fanciful departure from the essays and stories of pianist Carol Montparker's other books. This latest book is, first, a celebration of the beautiful city from the pianist's personal experience: a kind of musical travel journal, from the tintinnabulation of church-bells to the song of the merlo nero, from Bach played on old church organs, to the ubiquitous strains of Vivaldi; and finally, to Chopin's own paean to Venice, the Barcarolle.

The book is also an exploration of how three modes of expression: music, painting, and writing, coalesce into one inspired attempt to capture the magical atmosphere of Venice. Last, there is the fantasy-within-the-journal, an imaginative and mysterious rêverie in an ancient rose-colored palazzo.

$24.95; over 95 full-color plates, 110 pages

Available now on

A Pianist's Homecoming: Chronicle II
by Carol Montparker

The newly published sequel to the well-loved book, Anatomy of a New York Debut Recital, that became a little classic, and an essential part of music libraries in universities and conservatories. One pianist’s compelling personal accounts in diary-form of the emotional roller-coaster of preparation and performance-- the sheer exhilaration to the anxieties, told with humor and surprising candor, have proven to be universal, according to the overwhelming number of responses from students to renowned artists over the years.

The late great pianist Glenn Gould called the first Chronicle “the most un-put-downable piece of music journalism I have come across in many years.

So here it is 35 years later, another, even more probing Chronicle, written by the same pianist/author, and former Senior Editor of Clavier magazine, who returned to the same recital hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City for a Special Birthday Celebration concert.

$24.95; paperback, 166 pages with photos

Available now on

Summer Garden

Steinway Artist, pianist, lecturer
and author, Carol Montparker, conducts her workshops, concentrating on works-in-progress—with emphasis on interpretation, technique, troubleshooting, music as literature: the entire "pianist's landscape"-- for teachers, serious piano students, piano groups, or associations, presented either in her Huntington, Long Island studio (one hour east of NYC by train or car), or upon request at your locale--(limited to NY, CT, NJ, areas.) These workshops have, for the past two seasons, been highly successful and well-attended in Ms. Montparker's ongoing series,"The Composer's Landscape" at The Steinway Piano Gallery of Long Island.

The Summertime Workshops are offered June 20th through August 30. The themes will be created according to the specific requests or preferences of the group. A minimum of five participants is required for scheduling, and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch in the garden. Tuition varies according to size of group. For further details and inquiries, please telephone Ms. Montparker at 631-427-7556 or email

Mozart Sonata in D, K. 576
Bach Well-Tempered Clavier (Five preludes and fugues)
Schubert Klavierstück in E flat D.946, No.2 and  Impromptu in B flat, Op.142
Chopin Two Etudes (op.25, F min.) "Nouvelle Etude", (F min.)
Chopin-Liszt Meine Freuden
Ravel Sonatine

The selections on this CD, with the exception of the Bach (which was recorded at home), were performed for live audiences in salon-sized halls including Steinway Hall in New York City. Nothing on this disk was cut or pasted, opting for authenticity and spontaneity over electronic perfection. You are there!

"Recorded live (with no patches or editing of any kind) in a variety of locations including New York's Steinway Hall, Carol Montparker sparkles radiantly across a broad spectrum of repertoire. What immediately strikes the listener In Mozart's K576 Sonata is the grace and sheer communicated warmth of Montparker's playing, qualities that spill over into a small selection of The Well-Tempered Clavier  preludes and fugues, and two Schubert favorites, the D 946 Klavierstück and the B flat major Impromptu. Finest of all is Ravel's Sonatine, an enchanting reading that brims over with affection. Some tolerance is required with the changes in recorded ambiance, but this is still a most attractive recital."

Polly and the Piano - Program for schools and libraries!
Read the program description from the author.

The Books  


The Composer'sLandscape
The Pianist as Explorer - Interpreting the Scores of Eight Masters


A Pianist's Journal in Venice
A celebration of the beautiful city from the pianist's personal


A Pianist's Homecoming: Chronicle II
FINALLY, a sequel to The Anatomy of a N.Y. Debut Recital!


The Blue Piano and Other Stories
A book of short stories drawn from the life of a musician


A Pianist's Landscape 
A collection of essays about every facet of a pianist's life from
home to stage to studio


The Anatomy of a NY Debut Recital
A chronicle of Montparker's debut recital at Carnegie Recital Hall

Polly and the Piano
A children's musical fairy tale and an adult fantasy about the
love between a pianist and her dog

A Program for Schools and Libraries

The Illustrations



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Listen to an audio sample of a recent lecture/ recital given by Carol Montparker  



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