I have to make a living… I also happen to like it, rather cannot not play… I happen to be somewhat gifted and can do it pretty well (after intensive practicing), so it was clear to me already as a child that this is what I’d be doing for the rest of my life. My mother, who was my first piano teacher, said that it would help me impress girls…
Already as a child I had a passion for traveling; playing the piano had me travel all over the world. It’s great fun at parties.
You are often sent abroad by the Foreign Ministry to represent Israel in concerts and have become an ambassador of goodwill for Israel. Can you tell us more about this?
I did many concert tours for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, covering five continents. I gave concerts in Africa, North, Central, and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Some of the places I would probably never think of otherwise, places like Nigeria, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and other small countries and remote islands.
One of the highlights of my Foreign Ministry concerts was the concert I gave in Egypt after the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. I made history by being the first (and perhaps the only) Israeli musician to perform in Egypt. The concert took place in Cairo, May 1982.
Of course my teachers had a great influence on me and that is not just my piano teachers, but also my teachers of theory, composition, chamber music, etc. People like Paul Ben-Haim, William Kroll, Vronsky & Babin, and others. However, my idols, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Richter, and Arrau (Heard them all live) had an even greater influence on me.
You have studied with Mme. Nadia Reisenberg – can you tell us more about this experience?
Miss. Reisenberg, as we used to call her, always stressed the quality of sound. In lessons she used to sit at a 2nd grand piano (the 2 keyboards in a row) and demonstrate. One could not figure out how she produced that magnificent sound… She always taught to save and leave room for more, whether in cresc., dim., or other things. She encouraged looking at the big picture while paying attention to detail.
Can you tell us more about your current publication?
In 1967, I was a young pianist who didn’t wait for a record company to sign me up (that happened later on). I recorded and produced my first LP under my own label AndreA records. Ever since, everything I produced was under this label name: records, cassettes, CDs, videos, and DVDs. Furthermore, it had become also my sheet music publishing label and most of my compositions are published on AndreA; some of my compositions though are published by other publishers. Recently I became an author too… I completed and published a large-scale book about piano fingering:
“The Art of Piano Fingering – Traditional, Advanced, and Innovative”.
The book teaches how to create your own injury-free piano fingering. It offers useful exercises and it also deals with related piano playing techniques, phrasing, and interpretation. The text is illustrated with countless score samples, pictures, and diagrams. More info here: http://pianofingering.tripod.com/
The book received a great review in “California Music Teacher”: http://www.ortav.com/images/CaMusicTeacherReview-BarNiv.pdf
Earliest memory involving piano playing?
We had one clock for the entire house, a two-room apartment. My mother used to put the clock on top of the upright piano and I was to practice for 1/2 hour. I used to move the clock 5 minutes ahead… they never figured out why that clock was always fast…
Proudest career moment to date …
Every time I am in front of an audience I am proud, and happy, and elated. I played for royalty, presidents, and other heads of states; my proudest moments were when my children played and now when my grandchildren do.
In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a great pianist? Any tips to aspiring pianists?
This could be a topic for another book…
Qualities: Fire, passion, sensitivity, long phrases, seeing and understanding the big picture, paying attention to detail, intelligence, great technique, beautiful sound, and huge range of dynamics.
Tips: Don’t do it… but if you have to, do a lot of sight reading and improvising, believe in yourself and be true to yourself, though don’t reinvent the wheel.
Biggest challenge overcome
I used to know a doctor who wanted to find a way people could live and operate with no sleep…
This is a challenge I didn’t overcome… how to be as good as I am with no practice… Actually I am so fanatic about practicing that my close family makes fun of me. If I practice for a concert at an old age home my spouse says to me: “It’s an old age home, not Carnegie Hall.” Maybe by now I have overcome the need to practice everyday.
Perhaps last word of advice to pianists: Let the music speak for itself, don’t stand in the way…
My bio and more info about myself: http://www.ybarniv.com/Rami
My videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/barniv
My piano camp for adults: http://ramisrhapsody.tripod.com/