Core Repertoire?


Since being at a Conservatoire, I have come across the phrase ‘core repertoire’ more often than I  did before. There is certainly an expectation for pianists,  that we should be able to identify every Beethoven or Mozart Sonata within the first  few seconds of listening, or have played The Grieg Piano Concerto by the time we are twelve….

So what exactly is Core Repertoire?

Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin? YES.

BUT: I think there is a lot to say for pianists who think a little outside the norm. I’m certainly not saying that the ‘core’ repertoire isn’t a vital part of our education, however I do think that in this fast paced world of music, nonconformity can be very important. This is not to say that pianists that we aspire to have acquiesced… but the ambitions of young pianists today are (and should be) quite different from those fifty years ago. In another fifty years, expectations will have changed again.

This doesn’t mean we can’t dream big. However, I do think a reality check is in order- Pianists do not simply walk out of music college straight onto the stage of The Wigmore Hall anymore. Something extra is required. Something that defines us as individuals, not just as machines churning out this ‘core’ repertoire.

It is difficult to elaborate on my point without being too controversial… I’m also straying away from my original topic of conversation.

There will always be the neccesity for Bach and Beethoven, but maybe the next generation of pianists should break the barriers of the somewhat conventional box we live in?


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