On The Road:

An interview with concert pianist Jeffrey kahone

     The aura of Jeffrey Kahane's success in both the 1981 Van Cliburn and 1983 Aurthur Rubinstein Competition (first prize) has never been diminished and continues to be reflected in his busy schedule of performances with leading orchestras both here and abroad.

     Mr. Kahane made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1983 in a special concert tribute to Aurthur Rubinstein.  He was one of three pianists chosen in Lincoln Center to inaugurate a new piano series at Alice Tully Hall in the spring of 1986.  Piano Technicians Journal contributor Rick Baldassin spoke with Jeffrey Kahane in April 1989:


How many programs do you have to keep in your repertoire at a time, and how much time do you have to spend practicing while you are on the road?  Is this something that is hard for you?


Kahane:

     Probably the single hardest thing about my life, and I think I speak for a lot of my colleagues, is practicing on the road.  First of all, being on the road is tiring.  When you get to a place, you may be hungry, you may be tired, you may be late.  If it is difficult to find a place to practice, if the piano is lousy that you have to practice on, all of these things are a problem.

     What people don't realize is that we are very often practicing not for the concerts that we are doing tonight or this week, but for next week and the week after.  I play generally anywhere between eight and twelve different concertos in a season, usually two recital programs, and a fair amount of chamber music.  That is a lot of music, maybe 15 to 20 hours of music that one is responsible for in the course of a season.

     If you multiply each hour of music by the number of hours necessary to practice it to keep it in shape, and/or prepare it, you can see the problem of finding hundreds of hours of practice time over a period of several months, during which many hours are spent on the road, doing sort of fundamental things one has to do to survive.  It is a real problem.

Preparing to cut to length the pinblock.

‚ÄčThe Formative Years

Hoisting the plate out of the case.

Musical Background

Enjoy Your piano more. Have it tuned.

David The Piano Tuner

This is a Menzel artcase grand piano that I refurbished for a customer.  The tuning pins were loose and the key leads were expanding which was causing the keys to split. I didn't want to diminish the value of the piano by replacing any more parts than absolutely necessary and so I repinned the pinblock with larger tuning pins and replaced the expanding key leads with new ones.

Cutting the flange angle using a band saw.

Plate is ready for bronzing.

  • Brahms-Two Rhapsodies2:13
  • Debussy mp32:52
  • Schubert-Moments Musicaux1:30
  • Bach-Welltempered Clavier 12:46

This is a grand piano that I rebuilt for a customer.  

The old pinblock is removed.

Action on bench ready for regulating.

I've been working with pianos most of my life starting in the third grade with piano lessons.  Later, I obtained a teaching degree in music education.  The college I went to also offered piano tech classes which is how I got my start in the field of piano maintenance.  That was forty one years ago but it hasn't lost its appeal.


I'm a Registered Piano Technician with the Piano Technicians Guild which means that I have had to pass a series of exams to get that status.  As a guild member I have been fortunate enough to attend various classes put on by some of the top techs in the world including classes by most of the top piano manufacturers.  In these classes they explain how they want their pianos to be serviced and the proper techniques to accomplish this.


The piano for me isn't just about making a living.  It's about the enjoyment of going to Powell Hall or any of the many fine venues around town and hearing a performance on a fine instrument.  St. Louis is fortunate to have so much local talent.  In any given week there are any number of concerts to attend.  When was the last concert that you attended?  There's nothing like a good concert to add a little color to your life.  Maybe I'll see you at one.  Goodbye.


Using a radial saw to make the cut.

Case with most of its components removed.