Long-time PARMA artist and Brooklyn-based concert pianist Beth Levin has been the solo performer in numerous acclaimed symphonies and orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and The Boston Pops. Levin, who also appears on PARMA solo and compilation albums PERSONAE, A SINGLE BREATH, and FINE MUSIC Vol. 4, is today’s featured on ‘Inside Story,’ a blog series exploring the personalities of our artists. Read on and enjoy!
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
My first teacher, Marian Filar had studied with Walter Gieseking and used to play Gieseking’s Debussy for me in lessons. That opened up worlds of sound and delight to a twelve-year-old pupil and was pretty unforgettable.
When my father brought home a recording of Sviatoslav Richter and Erich Leinsdorf in the Brahms B flat piano concerto I remember immediately adoring it- the power and sweep of Brahms and the brilliance of Richter. He remains one of my all-time favorite pianists to this day.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/composer/creator?
When I got to Curtis Institute and was roaming around downstairs listening to everyone practicing- it all hit me I think. The seriousness of it all, of art. Up until then, it had been more or less a game-playing, being prepared by my teacher, even entering competitions- all had been pure fun. But in those halls at Curtis, I felt myself discovering my own feelings about the idea of being a musician in a personal sense.
One other pivotal moment happened at about age twelve- I think I had been given the Pathetique sonata of Beethoven to learn and while playing the opening line of the second movement I felt my own voice take over, emerge, take hold. It was kind of a beautiful shock. I’m sure we all experience it. But when it happens you know you are truly speaking at the instrument.
What was your most unusual performance or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
I remember performing the Brahms D minor concerto with the Boston Pops Orchestra and wearing a pair of fancy shoes my mother had bought for me for the occasion. They were covered with sequins and somehow the chiffon from my dress kept getting stuck to the sequins especially when I used the pedal. The fashion lessons one learns as a pianist as in just say no to sequins!
Another time I was giving a recital at a venue with a tin roof. A storm ensued and the raindrops sounded like the Russian army. I just kept on playing Kreisleriana of Schumann and I sometimes wonder if I should have stopped and waited for the storm to pass. But the show must go on!
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what are the three things you absolutely can’t live without?
That’s somehow such a hard question.
A photo of my family
Any score of Beethoven