12 jun

Last 3 hours to support me!!

You’ve got 3 – THREE – last hours to support my Carnegie Hall Debut! Since I met the minimum goal of $ 4000 yesterday, thanks to amazing supporters, I have stretched my goal: If I get additional $ 400, I will spend them on a flight to Toronto, to volunteer with colleague Shari Tallon on her charity project for Liberty for Youth! YOU can make it happen!

Here’s the link to my Kickstarter campaign!

Here’s the link to an Interview by Michael Miller, which is just released!

 

11 jun

Thoughts on music and charity

Why should musicians and artists care about society? Should we not simply be appreciated and admired for what we do? Are we perhaps afraid that being involved in charity destroys the picture of us as the struggling artists…? (That would a win, I’d say!)

Of course, we want people to appreciate art, but we also have a responsibility of bringing art to people, regardless of their ability to actively support us in return. Personally, I see it as part of our duty to explain and demonstrate what art can do for people. It’s about people, after all! And we – as musicians and artists – have something to give!

After the article in the New York Times last summer, which presented my research on 19th-century piano technique, I got in touch with so many great people! One of them is Canadian pianist and flutist Shari Tallon. We have e-mailed, skyped and sent messages and links over the last few months. We have exchanged ideas and inspired each other!

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Shari (photo) is extremely passionate about charity. What I admire about her, is how she connects people to each other in the process, enriching so many lives. When Shari recently began working for Steinway Piano Gallery Toronto (Tom Lee Musuc), she immediately initiated a partnership with Hamilton School of Music. Now, the music school school is holding a Practice-a-thon all throughout June in order to help Liberty for Youth. According to their website, this organization “provide[s] prevention and intervention mentorship for at-risk youth”, 12-25 years of age. The Practice-a-thon at Hamilton School of Music will help Liberty for Youth to acquire a piano for their music room! How cool is that?! I can’t wait for an update on this exciting project!

Hamilton school of music

In the meantime, please be inspired to think about how your artistic endeavors may benefit people around you! Dare to think big and reach out to people outside your everyday circle with an idea, a thought, a suggestion. Sooner or later, you will find your charity partner!

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Do you want to support me going to Toronto in March, right after my debut recital in Carnegie Hall, to teach, perform and give these kids some great musical experiences? Act fast: support my Kickstarter campaign for my Carnegie debut which is already funded in full – the next $ 400 will cover my flight to Toronto!!

08 jun

Robert Schumann: Intensity of feeling, expressed in music

Forget about ‘When Harry met Sally’. ‘When Robert met Clara’ would beat most romantic movies!

The young Robert Schumann had just moved to Leipzig to study law when he attended a private concert and was introduced to the renowned piano pedagogue Friedrick Wieck  – and his talented daughter. The year was 1828 and Clara was 8 1/2. None of them knew it, of course, but this was the beginning of a long, painful, joyful love story.

robert + Clara

Image from http://diariodefcp.blogspot.com/2013/02/ofelia-sala-helmut-deutsch-amatorias.html

Robert Schumann, the literary addict, took intensity, courtship and romantic longing to a new level. First, let’s remember that the thought of matrimony because of love was a rather new thought in the early 19th century, perhaps introduced by Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (Sorrows of Young Werther) in 1774. Yes, we know that Schumann liked Jean Paul! But I would argue that he also owed a great deal to Goethe. The psychological depth is present with both authors, and Schumann’s complex personality embraced and portrayed childish simplicity one minute and unequalled intensity of human feeling the next – just listen to Kinderszenen (op. 15) and Fantasie (op. 17) respectively! I also strongly suspect that Schubert was a strong inspiration regarding both of these aspects. (Schumann’s admiration for Schubert is documented by the fact that he bought scores from Ferdinand Schubert and saw to it that Schubert’s Great C major symphony was premiered).

Let us return to Schumann’s personal love story. After a romantic relationship slowly evolved with Clara, Friedrich Wieck did more than his share in preventing a future marriage. He simply forbade the two to meet, and during long periods even to write letters. This does not mean that no letters were written, though. Friends and maids served as secret mail service agents to keep a minimum of conversation going. The only communication allowed by Wieck, was the exchange of musical compositions – and this strict rule was even enforced after their engagement! Wieck did respect Schumann as a composer, and he did want his daughter to compose. Clara was allowed to perform Robert’s works even if they were not allowed to meet. Imagine the feelings contained in their works – feelings which had only one expression: sound. Sound, modelled for piano. In tones and chords and phrases, as they thought of each other.

1 September 1838, Clara writes to Robert:

Did you pass by our window last night? Alwin claimed to have seen you. Did you perhaps hear that I rehearsed your music?

The heart-breaking answer reads:

Yesterday and the day before yesterday, I passed by your window. I thought that you’d come out. It was thundering and I was standing at your house for half an hour. Did you not feel it?

Adieu. When will we get to talk???

Robert Schumann endured it. He endured the thunder and the rain and the separation and the longing which seemed to have no end. After an unsuccessful engagement to Ernestine von Fricken, his heart was set on Clara (then 16 years), and he refused to live without the woman he loved. He and Clara did not give up, and they did marry in the end. It is questionable whether they lived happily ever after, but there were clearly times of shared happiness, success and enjoyment.

Perhaps you cannot express intense joy without knowing the pain of missing it?

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Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856

20 mai

Tribute to Clara – 120 years after her death

 Clara Schumann (13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896).

Clara_Wieck_im_Alter_von_15_Jahren

At least among pianists, she usually goes by her first name only: Clara! Her father named her so already before she was born. Friedrich Wieck had decided that if he got a daughter, she should be called Clara – meaning bright, shining – because she would become a bright and shining star on piano heaven. Wieck was confident that his clever guidance would bring her there. When his wife, Marianne Tromlitz, divorced him (!) in 1824, he – as any man would at that time – was awarded sole custody over Clara.

It seems that Wieck commenced her daily music lessons from about this point. Clara’s rapid progress made her an excellent emblem of her father’s authority as a pedagogue. He also made sure that she studied counterpoint, harmony, composition, music theory, violin and singing. In other words, she received a thorough and splendid music education early on; this was unheard of for women and rare even for men.

Allow me to digress for a moment before we proceed with Clara’s story. I want to remind you of how the 19th-century viewed women’s abilities for anything theoretical, logic or scientific. German philosopher and theologian Karl Rosenkranz (1805-79) is sadly representative, despite “feminist voices” like the ones of the Damen-Journal of Leipzig since the end of the 18th century. In one of his many books, Karl Rosenkranz writes sarcastically in 1848:

«Nowadays, popularity is often equaled with making oneself understood by the ladies without any difficulty; a didactic triumph, as one simultaneously achieves to do away with everything profound and complex, merely says what already is immediately available to all and sundry, disposes of the seriousness of the matter, and does not spare in illustrations, anecdotes, jokes and colloquialities.»
(My translation; from Die Pädagogik als System. Ein Grundriss von Karl Rosenkranz, Doctor der Theologie und ordentlichem Professor der Philosophie an der Universität zu Königsberg. Königsberg, 1848, pp. 102-03).

Rosenberg’s sarcasm regarding the “didactic triumph” assumes the common view that girls could not understand math, theory or abstract matters. Even when comparing study plans from the Leipzig conservatory, it is clear that the curriculum of music theory around 1850 was easier for women than for men!

As we already have understood, Friedrich Wieck did not comply with contemporaneous expectations in this regard. (Let’s appreciate that!). In a time when women should play the piano to prove themselves worthy of a providing husband, Mr. Wieck provided Clara with an education equaling that of the greatest composers. Other girls could play a few tunes to entertain, but Clara was a professional musician every sense of the word before other girls had packed away their Barbie dolls (well, you know what I mean!). At 9, she made her public debut in her hometown Leipzig and at 11, she made her first tour to Paris. By this time, her opp. 1 and 2 were published, testifying of an impressive technique for her age, and a secure grasp of harmony and form.

About the same time, she met Robert Schumann. Despite her young age and the fact that he was 9 years her senior, a friendship evolved. (I will return to that in a later post!) If we dive into their correspondence, we get glimpses of Clara’s musical life. On 17th September, 1832, 13-year-old Clara writes to Robert:

«My dear Mr. Schumann!
Ha, ha! I hear you think, there we go! A letter from the girl who forgot what she promised. Oh no, she does remember. Read on and see why I did not write any earlier.
On the same day as the concert at Molique’s I got ill with scarlet fever. Until a few days ago, I could do nothing but stay in the boring bed. Yet, it turned out to be a rather light attack, meaning that I can be up a few hours per day and play the piano again. But I had to cancel the concert at the Concert house.
Everyone is afraid of being infected by me now, but you, dear Mr. Schumann, should not refrain from coming [to Leipzig] – as I will surely be well by New Year. On 8th January, I have to play at the Concert house again.» (My translation)

Two years later (Leipzig, 1. september 1835), she gives an account on her recent activities:

«I have been very diligent. Go ahead and laugh, but it is true! I have finished my manuscript [Partitur]; I have written out all the parts myself, in just two days; I have made a fair copy of my variations in F major and also Une nuit de Sabbat (Hexenchor). I have also commenced the task of orchestrating my piano concerto.» (My translation)

These excerpts certainly testify of her unusual discipline, diligence and professional approach to rehearsing and composing – her age (and gender!) taken into account.
As you understand, her entire life cannot possibly be covered in a single blog post. With this little appetizer, I just wanted to spark your curiosity! 120 years after her death, music history still bears Clara’s footprints, and she is remembered as an excellent pianist, teacher and composer – as well as the wife and editor of Robert Schumann and mother of his eight children.

What would she answer if we asked her whether a woman can “have it all”? She would probably say “Sure, you can! But keep in mind that neither romantic holidays (or any holidays!), girls’ nights out, taking the kids to amusement parks or simply enjoying a relaxing day by yourself are part of the deal”.
Please join me in commemorating Clara Schumann!

(For more on Clara and Robert – please watch the presentation of my Carnegie debut program!)

21 apr

Robert + Clara = sant

Robert + Clara = sant
Ord og toner fra Leipzig, ca. 1850

Gjennom verk av Robert og Clara Schumann, Grieg, Schubert og Moscheles, samt utdrag fra brevvekslingen mellom Robert og Clara, forteller historien om hvordan 1800-tallets mest kjente musikerektepar faktisk ble et par!

Christina Kobb, klaver
Kort, kulinarisk kåseri ved Milla Steinbeck.
Kaffe og noe attåt er inkludert i billetten.

Lågdalsmuseet, tirsdag 26. april kl. 19.00 Inngang kr. 200,- (barn kr. 50,-) Billettsalg i døra fra kl 18.15.
Velkommen!

Konsert 26.04.16. Lågdalsmuseet

15 jan

Music moves – free online course!

The University of Oslo has produced a free, online course, starting 1 February, called MUSIC MOVES! My hands are featured in one of the videos :) To learn more about the relationship between sound and movement, and why some kinds of Music make you want to move, please sign up via this link – you can also see a trailer for the course here: Music moves

15 des

Ny video!

Etter suksessen med den første videoen min på You Tube har Jonathan Eder produsert nok en video, for Portland Community Media, hvor jeg demonstrerer historisk klaverteknikk på moderne klaver.

Enjoy!

05 des

Intro-turne i USA

Da er jeg tilbake fra introduksjonsturneen til USA! Sjelden har jeg møtt så mange folk på så kort tid, og ikke minst fått så mye hyggelig tilbakemelding overalt! Takk til alle dere jeg fikk møte underveis!

Jeg dro først til Cornell University, NY hvor jeg studerte i 2009/2010. De ønsket meg sjenerøst velkommen og lot meg få disponere klaver, saler og alt jeg trengte til et lite studieopphold. Professorene Bilson og Moseley samlet sine studenter til mitt foredrag og jeg holdt også en «prøvekonsert» på det vakre Bluethner-flygelet fra ca. 1876.

Portland IISå dro jeg videre til Portland, Oregon, etter invitasjon fra radiostasjonen All Classical Portland. Det ble et hektisk 3-dagersprogram! Først en konsert i studio, direkteoverført på radio og streamet, holdt så en konsert med hovedsakelig norsk musikk for 200 publikummere i Nordia-huset til Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, og til sist et populærvitenskapelig foredrag med tema klaverteknikk. På programmet sto bl.a. Thomas Tellefsens klaversonate op. 13, som antagelig ble fremført for første gang i USA. Mitt besøk fikk fyldig omtale i Oregon Artswatch og den lokale TV-stasjonen Portland Community Media TV gjorde en times langt opptak med demonstrasjon og diskusjon av klaverteknikk på moderne klaver. DPortland jette programmet ble sendt på lokal-TV i hele jula og er tilgjengelig på deres nettsider på You Tube.

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Tradisjonen tro signerer jeg flygelet i studioet til All Classical Portland etter konserten som ble direktesendt på radio og streamet over hele verden. (Foto: All Classical Portland).

 

 

Så var jeg invitert til det velrennomerte Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies ved San Jose State University (SJSU), hvor jeg holdt demonstrasjonsforelesningen Piano Playing in the Early 19th Century: Reconstructing a Practice of the Past.

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Neste dag fikk jeg undervise klaverklassen til Dr. Gwendolyn Mok ved SJSU, instruerte en kammermusikktrio som spilte Beethovens op. 11 og observerte klaverstudentenes øving til Gerschwins Porgy and Bess for 10 pianister.

2015-11-10 14.25.01Klaverstudentene ved SJSU lærer wieneranslag anno 1820! Foto: Dr. Gwendolyn Mok.

 

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Eksotisk campus for en nordboer: San Jose State University.

 

Jeg benyttet også anledningen til å spille konserter i sjømannskirkene i hhv. San Francisco og New York, samt besøke (og prøvespille!) klaversamli2015-11-20 11.58.15ngene ved Yale University og Duke University. På tross av at jeg har besøkt mange klaversamlinger, er det alltid flere fascinerende klaver å bli kjent med! Dette, for eksempel!
(Stodart, ca 1820)

 

 

 

 

 

I New York ble jeg spontant invitert av den anerkjente sopranen Lauren Flanigan til å delta ved hennes konsert, fordi Flanigan ville fortelle alle om mitt konsept PianoShelters (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/idea-organisation-piano-shelters-christina-kobb) Jeg traff journalisten Michael Miller fra New York Arts and The Berkshire Review som intervjuet meg om klaverteknikk (kommer snart!) og tok meg med til Leif Ove Andsnes’ recital i Carnegie Hall. :)

Oppholdet ble avsluttet med en privat huskonsert i Middletown, Connecticut, og en i Durham, North Carolina – og firhendig spill med professor Randall Love fra Duke University.

Magda the stupid cat

Eierens katt distraherte konserten i Connecticut!

 

 

 

 

 

Da gleder jeg meg bare til å komme tilbake en dag! :)

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