The piano accompanist. It implies subserviency. There is no getting around it. It is the ‘supportive’ role, the musical background for the supposed ‘soloist’, the ‘wife’ in the home, cooking and cleaning, their menial and unchallenging work enabling another’s greatness to blossom and reach potential.

A pianist has to tone down their talent for the duo. Most professional pianists have practised hours a day from a very young age, learning to combine harmony, melody and complex contrapuntal writing. They sweat to conquer the physical technicalities of their slick, black beast of an instrument. They have to comprehend that this percussive instrument has been built with a capacity to be sonorous. They need to understand that there is more to playing several tones at the same time, they must ‘voice’ those chords. There is the sheer scope of repertoire and styles – a pianist must know everything about everything. Oh, and memorise that 30-minute sonata and be sure to make it all look easy.

There can be no mistake, the piano is better equipped than any other instrument to perform solo. Self-sufficiency and strong musical personalities are required. The ability to interpret a large-scale musical work on one’s own. The romantic ideal...

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