Pianists: Beyond Dexterity

"So many people," sighs Pianist Daniel Barenboim, "regard music as a matter of ability." In Barenboim's case, that is understandable enough. At 24, the short (5 ft. 6 in.), mop-haired Israeli has the ability in his small hands to master the full range of keyboard sounds and effects. Barenboim shrugs it off. Technique is essential, but what counts more is musicianship.

That attitude sets Barenboim apart from a great many young professionals who are pianists to their fingertips, but unfortunately not to their minds and hearts. They hone their technique to a cold, steely edge, then use it to slice...

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