Acclaimed pianist Norman Krieger is looking forward to his recital this afternoon as an opportunity to appear not just as a teacher, but also as a performer in order to share some of his favorite works with the Chautauqua community.
“The human factor of a live performance is always very exciting because you can’t fix something once it’s happened. You can’t be greedy,” he said. “I’m grateful that I have the privilege to share my knowledge and to continue to learn as an artist and as a pianist.”
In his recital at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, Krieger said he will kick off this week as a guest faculty member for the School of Music’s Piano Program with a series of classical works that are very close to his heart.
The program begins with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K. 330, followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17 “Tempest” Op. 31, No. 2. Krieger will then perform a selection of Frédéric Chopin’s works, including a Nocturne and two Études. The evening is set to conclude with Johannes Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 1.
“I have a very strong connection, affinity to the Viennese classical style of music,” Krieger said. “They are … composers that I just adore and feel physically very comfortable at the piano playing, meaning it suits my hands and my temperament, my personality.”
Krieger also said he selected pieces he believed would be familiar to the students of the Piano Program, as many of these classics are works they are learning to perform themselves.
“I always find myself fascinated by … the younger generation that has access to so much technology and history right at their fingertips,” he said. “The interesting thing of teaching is you’re learning as well. It’s not just a one-way street.”
In addition to the recital this afternoon, Krieger will be teaching a masterclass at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Sherwood-Marsh, and he will be holding a private Q-and-A session Thursday. He is also scheduled to give a number of private lessons to Piano Program students.
“It’s a subjective art, so to speak. There’s no black-and-white answer to anything, especially being a pianist because everyone’s hands are different, everyone’s physique is different, and everyone’s temperament is different,” he said. “So I try to help the best that I can based on what I hear, what I see.”
Krieger hopes his performance this afternoon and his teaching sessions later in the week will impart the lesson that “it’s the music that is the star; it’s not the performer.”
“It’s a balancing act where you don’t want to superimpose your own personality to the point where it distracts from what the composer has left us,” he said. “… That’s something I teach and something that I believe in very strongly.”
In addition to collaborating with dozens of orchestras around the world, Krieger has held faculty positions at Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina and at the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California. He is the founding artistic director of The Prince Albert Music Festival in Hawaii and is currently chair of the Piano Department at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
“I do a lot of administrative work and a lot of teaching and still try to be a performing pianist,” said Krieger. “It’s sort of like wearing three hats … but I do the best that I can, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to play.”
Krieger’s performing accolades are not to be eclipsed by his professional achievements as an instructor. At only 15 years old, he became a full-scholarship student of Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later studied under Alfred Brendel and Maria Curcio in London and received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of Russell Sherman.
“I’ve had the blessing of studying with some really great teachers over the years,” said Krieger. “I just try to impart the history of what I have learned.”
Krieger has performed throughout the North American continent, as well as in Europe, Asia and South America. In 1989, he was the Gold Medal Winner of the first Palm Beach Invitational Piano Competition, and he has since received the Paderewski Foundation Award, the Bruce Hungerford Memorial Prize and the Buffalo Philharmonic Young Artists Competition Prize, among many others.
His visit this week will be Krieger’s first time at the Institution. Nikki Melville, chair of the Piano Program, is happy to have him join “the list of people who are Chautauqua friends.”
“He’s a perfect fit for what we’re trying to model for the students, for the right sort of outlook in the music world,” she said.
Krieger said he is excited to be able to appreciate the history and vibrant culture of the Chautauqua community during his time here, including the connection to George Gershwin, who finished his Concerto in F here in 1925.
“Gershwin is one of my favorite composers, and I’ve always wanted to see the place where he finished writing that concerto 100 years ago,” he said.
“It has such a great history and reputation,” he continued. “Chautauqua is sort of an incredible melting pot of intellectuals, philosophers, religious people and political people coming to talk and share their ideas. It seems like an incredibly inspiring place.”