Photo courtesy of Steve Mitchell Local pianist Michael Brady performs on Saturday and again on Oct. 8.

Photo courtesy of Steve Mitchell
Local pianist Michael Brady performs on Saturday and again on Oct. 8.

Piano concerts will explore composer’s life and works

By Marcy Stamper

When asked why he chose to focus on the music of 19th-century Romantic composer Frédéric Chopin for two upcoming concerts, pianist Michael Brady said it’s more accurate to say that Chopin chose him.

“I think it’s fair to say that Chopin succeeded in creating a musical universe that touches anyone with an ear for music more immediately and more deeply than perhaps any other composer,” said Brady.

He pointed to Chopin’s extraordinary range in compositions that express everything from the passionate fireworks of love to soothing lullabies to wistful nostalgia. Chopin lived to be only 39 and struggled with illness for much of his adult life.

Brady enjoys unearthing amusing and unexpected commentary about music, and the Chopin concert, which he is calling “A Recital-Lecture, the Subject Being Chopin,” is no exception. Brady will share music criticism from Chopin’s time, as well as observations about dysfunctional relationships inspired by the tabloid-style antics of Jerry Springer.

Audiences will also learn about Chopin’s relationship with the novelist George Sand (a pseudonym she adopted) and the peaceful time the two spent caring for a toddler. Even in passages that recall bickering, Chopin manages to unite every theme in an unparalleled beauty, said Brady.

“The George Sand-Chopin relationship was bizarrely dysfunctional, but it worked for years – until it didn’t,” said Brady.

Chopin himself offered a vivid description of his music. “Bach was an astronomer, who found the most wonderful stars through formulas, and Beethoven possessed the universe through the power of his spirit. I do not climb so high. A long time ago I decided my universe would be the heart and soul of man,” said the composer.

The music has had that effect on Brady, who said he has been “possessed” by one of Chopin’s piano sonatas for almost a year – and he expects audiences to have a similar response.

Brady has been sharing his passion for the piano with valley audiences for more than a decade.

The Chopin concerts are Saturday (Oct. 1) and again on Saturday, Oct. 8, both at 7 p.m. at the Merc Playhouse in Twisp. General admission is $15, with keyboard-view seats available by advanced reservation at $25 each (call 996-5002 to reserve).

Brady will reprise the program at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Admission to that concert is by donation, but keyboard-view seats will be available for reservation for $25 each.

Proceeds from all three concerts benefit Room One.