The Diary of Anne Ku
29 June 2000 Thursday cloudy then drizzly in the evening
SIGHTREADING PIANO DUETS
When I was pursuing my final degree, my supervisor (or doctorate advisor as they call it in the US) wanted me to meet the visiting summer student from Finland. The opportunity didn't arise until a week before he was leaving. We sat right across each other at an Indonesian restaurant - a farewell dinner for a German graduate bound for Singapore. Amazed at his appetite for spicy food, I started a conversation with this blond haired gentleman not knowing he was the Finnish scholar. The subject moved to music, and I learned that he had studied at a conservatory.
I had searched high and low - in my world travels - for pianists who could sightread. My theory was that you could either sightread or memorise, but not both. In the latter case, you could also play by ear. Sightreaders like myself suffer from over-confidence bias. We play much better the first time around. We depend on the music - sort of like touchtyping. We don't even look at the keys. So here he was, a genuine sightreader who had only one week left in London! I think we tried to sightread some duets together on the broken upright at the School. Then I invited him to my West Hampstead mansion flat to try out all my piano duets I had at the time. Energised by our sessions, I actively hunted for piano duets for four hands one piano.
Over the years, whenever we'd meet we would sightread duets. He played the secondo. I played the primo. We would always start with Pachelbel's Canon in D and then move onto Handel's Queen of Sheba. There was no need for words as we sailed through Faure's Dolly Suite, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, and Schubert's Military March. One day I hope to have a second piano, so that we could sightread Chopin's Piano Concertos, our favourites. Until then, I might just arrange one of my compositions for four hands, one piano!