Writings about Music

Wildly Enthralled

Earl Wild

Currently, I am enthralled by Earl Wild's autobiography, out of print now, but I was able to procure a copy at a manageable cost. At the time of this writing the only available copies are priced at $600 and $700!

While working at the Joseph Patelson Music House, I was introduced to the legendary pianist, and he became a centrally important influence in my life.

Riveting reading his intimate thoughts on myriad aspects of music and life. And I love how immense the book is, around 900 pages, like that was really just a few moments of Wild's prodigious enthusiasm and curiosity. Did you know he could play any of the Beethoven piano sonatas, or any other piano composition in his vast repertoire, in any key at the drop of a hat? Similarly, Lee Konitz told me that part of his practice was learning how to improvise on all the jazz standards he knew in any key. Indeed, there is a remarkable chapter on improvisation in Earl's book, one of innumerable surprises.

"A Walk on the Wild Side: A Memoir by Virtuoso Pianist Earl Wild" is overflowing with enormously relevant musical insights, and also hilarity, such as the time the piano began rolling away from him during a performance of a Brahms piano concerto, like something out of a Marx Brothers movie.

Let's hope Earl Wild's most important book becomes available again having understandably sold out the first printing, perhaps in paperback form together with hard cover. The music world is indebted to Michael Rolland Davis for overseeing the original publication of this stunningly beautiful and substantive book both in content and elegant presentation.

- Michael Robinson, August 2020, Los Angeles

Please note this is a brand new essay, with additions and edits likely to be made over the next few days, so you are invited to revisit.

 

© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved

 

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).