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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Myron Silberstein

I was born in 1974 in Brooklyn, where my father was completing his medical degree. When I was two or three, we inherited my great-grandmother’s baby-grand Baldwin piano. My father played reasonably well, but his mother was a very fine pianist. I spent much of my childhood eagerly awaiting her visits and trying between visits to do what she did. Family legend has it that when I was about five, I asked my father for help reading music and was particularly confused by key signatures. As soon as he explained the arrangement of half steps and whole steps in the major and minor scales and wrote out a chart of the circle of fifths, so the story goes, I became a proficient sight reader. Whatever its origins, sight reading remains one of the strengths for which I am most grateful.

I took piano lessons throughout childhood and was interested in piano performance as a career, though not terribly interested in piano practice. A strict and knowledgeable teacher to whom I switched when I was 14 gave me the choice of committing to four hours of practice a day or of finding a new teacher. Not being one to burn bridges, I complied, and soon embarked on a modest professional career.

Having cut my teeth on standard repertoire, which I still love, I soon discovered that my greatest strength and my greatest passion resided in 20th-century tonal works. My New York debut recital in 1993 included Ernest Bloch’s Piano Sonata and Lowell Liebermann’s Gargoyles. Alan Silver of Connoisseur Society Records had been enamored of the Bloch for many years and invited me to record it for him. The recording included Franck’s Prelude, Choral, and Fugue and first recordings of pieces by Vittorio Giannini. I learned that a great number of Giannini’s works remained unpublished. This sparked my interest in music research, focusing on the traditionalist composers of the mid-20th century.

After rounding out my education with a B.A. in philosophy and religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh, I earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, where I translated Sanskrit literature, interpreted Kierkegaard texts, and composed. Since completing the M.A., my professional life has involved accompanying and coaching classical singers, preparing and recording programs of 20th-century American piano music, and composing. I have lived in Chicago since 2002.


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