AMONG WESTERN CLASSICAL MUSICIANS exists a form of namedropping that set them apart from the hoipolloi or ignorami. I am referring here to those pianists enamored by opus numbers of well-known compositions who at an intimate salon recital might in response to a request from the audience “to play us something,” cheerfully say “Shall I play you the Op. 53?” For the uninitiated that would mean essaying either a lengthy performance of a favorite of mine – the Herculean Waldstein Sonata in C major by Beethoven – or, in sheer contrast, the pithier Heroic Polonaise in A flat major by Chopin.
In regard to my own rather limited output of original compositions, the earliest dates back to 1945, when at the age of 12 I wrote and performed as part of a full-blown debut solo recital at the Town Hall in New Delhi a Lento work, which I entitled “My Prayer for a Caged Pet Parrot.” Very much later on – in fact, all of 30 years! -as my roster of original piano works grew, I decided to append the momentous shorthand of Op. 1 to the manuscript of My Prayer. And it was only two years ago that I made an amateur video recording of the piece in my Englewood home. Here it is:
Then, beginning in 1945, I began a series of works for piano (and one for string quartet) through the years culminating in my 4-movement Piano Sonata entitled Impersonata that was published and copyrighted in the USA in 2015:
I: Maestoso – Allegro
IIIA: Theme and Variations I-II
IIIB: Variations III-IV
IV: Finale – Allegro giocoso
There is a genre of opuses, abbreviated to Op. Posth., that I was unaware of until I was taught in New Delhi by my esteemed teacher, Mrs. Thomas, Chopin’s brilliant Fantasie-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Opus 66, which was composed as far back as 1834, but only published 21 years later in 1855. I was told by her that chronologically the first of Chopin’s impromptus, the Fantasie-Impromptu was not intended by him for publication. The assumption arose that it was withheld on account of a stated similarity – unintentional, no doubt – to an Impromptu in E flat major by Ignaz Moscheles, the eminent Prague-born pianist, conductor and teacher (1794-1870.) Several other pieces of Chopin were later clubbed together as Posthumous Works Opuses 66-73 that include gems in the Nocturne genre (5) as well as Mazurkas (2), Waltzes (2), Polonaises (3) and Ecossaises (3).
In 2009, I gave my last solo performance – a Spring Music Recital of Light Classical Pieces, just before my right hand ‘pinkie’ succumbed to Dupuytren’s Contracture. The half-hour program includes short works by Chopin (4), Schumann, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Antonin Dvorak and my maternal grandmother, Rose Ziadine Akmal.