Friday, May 06, 2005

Beethoven and the Ghost of Hampton Court

A very happy experience yesterday at the Kingston Readers Festival, which is currently one of the best things about life in south-west London. They'd asked me to do an open interview with the American pianist Robert Taub, who's currently in the middle of playing all the Beethoven sonatas at Hampton Court Palace and has written an extremely good book about them. He's also a fantastic guy and a great communicator. The whole evening went with quite a swing: we were in a superb studio in Kingston University, the audience asked lots of interesting questions, Bob gave expert demonstrations throughout and we managed to encompass matters from the evolution of pianos to the evolution of Beethoven's thinking to the time that Bob got locked inside Hampton Court after one recital and was mistaken for the place's resident ghost!

Thanks to this festival, there's a feast for book-lovers in Kingston this month. My agent is among a number of publishing professionals taking part in a discussion on May 9th called 'Writing: a suitable job for a woman?' [answer as I see it: it's not a suitable job for anybody, but we do it because we just have to do it...'] and novelist Maggie O'Farrell is among the literary luminaries, on May 25th. Full details at the website.

Meanwhile, I've discovered a blog for pianophiles: Pianophilia written by Bart Collins. Bart has a plethora of interesting stuff up there, including the complete list of contestants for the Van Cliburn Competition, links to the forthcoming Chopin Competition in Warsaw and a fab story about how the new Pope's piano couldn't get into the papal apartment on the Vatican top floor! Adding you to blogroll right away, Bart.

The sun is shining and Labour has been re-elected, but with a vastly reduced majority. Our local Lib Dem candidate, Susan Kramer, won comfortably in this constituency. Tom had the appropriate orange sticker on his violin case and I was extremely tempted to scrub out 'Susan' and write 'Gidon' instead (and alter the appropriate A to E, of course). But - aren't I good? - I didn't do it.