The Composer's Landscape
by Amadeus Press (AmadeusPress.com)
Derived from a popular series of lecture-recitals presented by Carol Montparker over the past several years, The Composer’s Landscape features eight insightful essays on the piano repertoire. Each chapter focuses on a single composer: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, and 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)
“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.” DAVID DUBAL
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
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
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.
ERNEST J. KRAMER
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.
ERNEST J. KRAMER
A Pianist's Journal in Venice
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 réverie in an ancient rose-colored palazzo.
A Pianist's Homecoming: Chronicle II
Carol Montparker’s 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.”
The Blue Piano and Other Stories
by Amadeus Press (AmadeusPress.com)
Carol Montparker's 31 new stories are remarkable for their frankness and emotional honesty. Creative nonfiction from a life in music, they are in turn tender and intense, lyrical and riotously funny. There is a poignant friendship with the elderly, irresistible Rudi; the anguish of a marriage that needed to end; true love found later; a narrow escape from an outlandishly surreal piano; moving tales from her teaching studio, each story with its own satisfying shape and rhythm.
Fans of Carol Montparker's previous books, A Pianist's Landscape and The Anatomy of a New York Debut Recital, and her columns for Clavier, will devour these new revelations. Carol articulates thoughts that most of us cannot articulate; she has an artist's eye, a musician's ear, and a gifted writer's knack for description, but it is her uncanny ability to evoke a response as she looks back over a real life from a vantage point of subsequent happiness that will prevent readers from putting down this collection until they have read every single piece.
This is certainly the Carol Montparker we have come to know from her other writing, but she reveals more of herself and her past. Each challenge, encounter, and turning point rings true with joy, humor, hilarity, sorrow, rage, pain, bewilderment, satisfaction, awe, peace--we trust the sensitive voice of a person who recounts aspects of her life in all fairness. Rare will be the reader who is not brought to tears and giggles by these human stories of an artist and woman of uncommon insight.
"The pianist's latest book deserves to be read by anyone who plays
or wishes to play or ever wished to play the piano, and by everyone
else too. She writes about music in a sane, wise, humane voice in this
charming, instructive, often moving collection."
"Carol Montparker, pianist and a vocational painter, writes with
warm, subtle colors and lines of delicate precision. Her autobiographical
stories sparkle with vignettes of people, places and pets, but their
deeper subject is that of the woman pianist in a male-dominated world.
The subject is not new, but Ms. Montparker brings to it a rewarding
freshness of insight."
has revealed the very nerve center of her inner life as a woman and
musician. These thirty-one short stories are full of surprises, adventures,
indeed, sensitivities of many kinds.
They are tender-hearted and passionate, each polished in prose that
rivets the reader---perfect cameos which linger long in the heart."
"If you buy only one book
this year, it should be this one. Many teachers may remember Carol
Montparker from her column in Clavier magazine. Ms. Montparker is a
Steinway Artist and performer of solo and chamber music. She is a
teacher, visual artist, writer, and beautiful person. This book is a
collection of stories from her life. They are written in such a way that
I felt as if she were communicating them only to me, and, after reading
them we became very close friends. The stories were inspiring, funny,
poignant, and need to be read again and again. This is the book you buy
and give to special friends. Carol Montparker has written a book that is
a treasured glimpse into the life of an extraordinary person."
"Of course it is deliciously
apt that this unusual, well-written collection of 31 autobiographical
stories by concert pianist, painter, music teacher, writer, editor, and
gardener, Carol Montparker, should be published by a press called
Amadeus, (the author’s favorite composer.) Although all the stories in
The Blue Piano have music at the center, they radiate and resonate as a
sustained creative narrative about “reckoning” with life, musically and
personally. The collection sings with a lyrical beauty about the
pleasures and pains of being a professional artist� Clearly Montparker
has mastered the pitch, rhythms, and colors of good prose as well as
those of the keyboard. Though basically chronological, the stories
reflect a knowing sense of the elements of good story-telling selective
structure and details, continuity of theme, and a diverse cast of
"This collection by Carol Montparker, providing 31 short stories
covering musicianship and adventures in the music world, is hard to
easily categorize: the stories represent very real insights into the
music world and sensibility, yet contain the passion and vivid
descriptions of fiction. Suffice it to say that musicians in general,
and pianists in particular will relish these lyrical first-person
"Carol Montparker has enriched the lives of music teachers for many years through her work as an editor and regular columnist for Clavier, and her first two books. In her latest book she weaves together a collage of short vignettes concerning her multi-faceted life. This book’s 31 short chapters gracefully narrate a wide array of subjects reminiscences, reflections Montparker’s ability to bring matters of the heart to the printed page is evident throughout.her craftsmanship as a wordsmith shines through. She willingly shares the highs and lows of her life, provoking joy at one moment and serious contemplation the next. Through her skillful writing, she draws the reader into her world and graciously recounts significant moments and experiences.
A wonderful volume for vacation or leisure reading, this book is a
perfect accompaniment to a day at the beach or an evening by the
fireplace with a good cup of coffee. The stories will warm your heart
and hopefully remind you of the profound joys of music-making, music
teaching, and life."
"Anyone who appreciates
culture and nature will enjoy The Blue Piano and Other Stories by Carol
Montparker. This book is almost therapeutic for teachers ..I was moved
by many of the chapters, yet found myself laughing out loud in
others. Her love of writing, traveling, watercolor painting, gardening
and nature come through. For pianists and teachers the stories of her
work with students are especially inspiring. Montparker is a wonderful
storyteller, and her straightforward, open style is refreshing."
"The author's ability to
balance the tragic consequences of human frailty with an erudite if
obstinate optimism gives this book the rare quality of being untiringly
readable. . . . The Blue Piano powerfully conveys the endogenous talent,
hard work and self-discipline required to succeed as a professional
artist. Yet the author communicates the positive value of all her
experiences so entertainingly that it's not so much her success as a
concert pianist the reader admires as her understanding, her talent for
witty observation and her enviable peace of mind."
". . . [Carol Montparker]
evokes a true sense of atmosphere in real life stories that are
forthright and witty. . . [Her] boundless enthusiasm for life far
exceeds the parameters of a musician's life and her responses to
challenges and encounters along the way will ring true for all readers,
not only pianists. Compelling and delightful reading."
"Readers will be moved to
both tears and laughter as they work their way through these clever and
intriguing stories that are torn from real life. It is a real treat."
" . . . The stories
represent very real insights into the music world and sensibility, yet
contain the passion and vivid descriptions of fiction. Suffice it to say
that musicians in general and pianists in particular will relish these
lyrical first-person insights."
"These short stories and
essays are some of [Montparker's] memories, 'harvested' from the life of
an unusually widely talented, perceptive and sensitive artist . . . . It
is her talent for communication that makes this book so totally
engaging. . . . The charm of these stories will fascinate musicians and
This personal diary kept by a pianist preparing for her Carnegie Recital Hall debut in New York, is a provocative account of the entire experience from the moment of decision, through months of work and development to the event itself.
Told with humor and surprising candor, it probes and reveals her innermost responses and takes the reader along on a roller-coaster of emotions from terror to exhilaration.
Excerpts from this Chronicle by Carol Montparker about her Carnegie debut recital, were included in the extraordinary book titled, Ariadne’s Thread; A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Diaries and Journals, edited by Lyn Lifshin and published by Harper and Row (1982.) Some of the other women whose journals were excerpted in this anthology are Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, May Sarton, Maxine Kumin, Eleanor Coppola, and many others.
"This superb diary was without
question, one of the most un-put-downable bits of music journalism that
I have come across in many years."
"I was on my way to do a recital
on the West Coast when I read your book. Seeing how much it meant to
you to have the privilege of playing the great works, and sharing the
miracle of their creation with your public, and your humility throughout,
awoke in me that which was temporarily dormant...my own feeling of being
privileged to be a concert pianist. Thank you for your inspiring book."
"I greatly admired your Anatomy
of a New York Debut Recital when it first came out and just now
I have hunted it down in my library and found it to be just as good
as I remembered it. Rereading it gave me a flush of satisfaction. Over
the years I have always been impressed by your thoughtful, direct approach."
"Probably the best book about
"I read your book with delight
and I plan to write about the pleasure, enlightenment, and interest
it gave me."
"Pianist writes Jewel of
a Journal...a delicious little book...quirky insights."
This book is sold exclusively at this website. To purchase a copy of Anatomy of a New York Debut Recital please go to the Order page or click Here.
A Pianist's Landscape
find your playing to be unfailingly graceful and affecting. You are
a real artist, which is also made clear by your book....It is a model
of its kind, touching and clever and invaluable as a chronicle of musical
I found your book quite fascinating--full of detail and informed by your warm musician's heart.
TIM PAGE, The Washington Post
One of the chief delights of A Pianist's Landscape is that it is so engagingly well written: it opens things up to the lay reader without the slightest hint of awkwardness or pretension. Montparker talks about what musicians think, how they interact, their foibles, joys and fears, with the ease of someone talking about what's growing in her garden. The writing is direct, the expression of thoughts and feelings remarkably concrete. And yet there is great finesse as well. As an avid watercolorist, Montparker naturally knows that much can be suggested by a small gesture. She paints a picture of her own domestic life, surrounded by objets d'art and serenaded by avian songsters, that immediately invites the reader to share in her pleasure. TED LIBBEY, The Washington Post
I would like to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. It is beautiful, full of colour and vitality, moving forward, yet dwelling so lovingly over many significant details. You paint very touching portraits and know so well how to tell a story. You have insight and describe things with so much candor and sensitivity. RADU LUPU
A Pianist's Landscape reveals
the interior world of a total musician. Carol Montparker writes with
courage, grace, wit, and passion about the mundane as well as the sublime
aspects of being a pianist. From the magically inspiring song of the
thrush to the amusing anxieties of concert hall disasters--this landscape
is filled with riches for the reader's pleasure. Professionals, non-musicians,
and all the degrees between the two will be captivated by the musical
heart and mind revealed in this book.
"Although I confess not to have read every word of your manuscript, (as most of my spare time is occupied by my own scribbling or poetry readings) what I saw of your book is truly charming. You have the rare gift of engaging the reader, an effortless command of words, and an ingratiating turn of the phrase." ALFRED BRENDEL
"The unquenchable and world-straddling nature of [Montparker's] interests, to which this book bears witness, . . . confirms why she is such an inspired interviewer. . . . Her sensitive antennae allow her to pick up all that is most characteristic in the musical culture of her era..Having spent so many years interviewing the great an the good of the musical profession-framing questions for others to answer it must be as much a relief for Carol Montparker as it is for us, her readers, to have her at last dealing herself with these same issues in the depth, eloquence and personal candour they deserve. In fact, one might describe the whole book at an interview conducted this time with herself"
MALCOLM TROUP, Piano Journal, Winter 1999
"Her sense of music as a spontaneous adventure and her reverence for the piano as a link to ones inner life show through in this variegated collection of essays. Her explorations of the pianist’s predicament are like variegated preludes in such keys as memorizing, practicing, choice of instrument, performing, teaching, and child-rearing."Keyboard Companion, 1999
"Thoroughly engaging....Her essays will be enjoyed not by musicians only, but by all music lovers who want to be swept away by an honest and warm description of an artist’s life and its trials and rewards. " ALAN HIRSCH, Booklist
To purchase a copy of "
A Pianist's Landscape,"
Polly and the Piano
published by Amadeus Press (AmadeusPress.com)
new book from Carol Montparker about love, The
Love between a Pianist and her Dog, and their Love of Music.
Together they accomplish a memorable and extraordinary concert.
In page after page of affectionate text and spontaneous watercolors, the author, pianist Carol Montparker, depicts their work and their play. The story is a musical fairy tale that will charm both adults and children; with a special gift to readers of a CD of the piano recital !* (Just as Polly heard it being practiced and performed-- and drawn from live performances by Ms. Montparker).
NOW AVAILABLE: Polly and the Piano - Program for schools and libraries!
Read the program description from the author, Carol Montparker.
"Just as much as buying for gourmands, sports fans or train fanatics, hunting down the right gift for the classical lover is treacherous business. Procuring the right gift for the novice is even tougher, with the buyer inevitably lost in rows of classical bins a mile wide and an inch deep."Polly and the Piano, written and illustrated with watercolors by Carol Montparker, Amadeus Press, hardcover 1 57467-093-X, 40 pages with a previously unreleased live CD of piano music from Montparker’s debut at Carnegie Hall.
Choosing classical for children? Despite the inviting illustration on the cover, the music inside can be condescending.
This year's gift bag from recording companies and publishers contains the usual marketing concepts in search of an artistic raison d'etre. Yet some diamonds are hidden among the lumps of coal.
"Parents who would like to
instill an appreciation of classical music in their children should
check out this lovely story. . . The watercolour paintings are
gorgeous . . ."
" . . . delightful.
You not only get the book, but a [CD with] selection[s] from Mozart,
Schubert, Chopin and Ravel to enjoy. . . It is a heartwarming story,
particularly well suited to any family that enjoys music."
If ever a book and CD could introduce great music to children, this is the one. The story, with charming illustrations by the author, tell of her dog’s introduction to music, and her enthusiasm for the piano playing of her mistress, and preparations for her Carnegie debut.
What makes this book a standout is the CD. Ms, Montparker’s playing is sensitive to nuance, and phrased with an understanding of the big architecture of the music that marks great playing. The works by Mozart, Schubert, Chopin and Ravel are felicitous choices for children. The best way to introduce children to classical music is the through quality pieces of great beauty ravishingly played. Children and their parents will bond with this book and CD. If you only to choose one gift for a child, this is the one.
Amadeus plans to
release a series of books with music for children. This first is an
outstanding accomplishment. We look forward with relish to other
titles, and we hope this one will be read soon in classrooms around
CD includes a Mozart sonata, two Schubert Klavierstcke, three Chopin
compositions, and the Ravel Sonatine.)
All content in this website is © Carol Montparker, 2001-2014. All rights reserved.