Eros at the Piano:
The Life-Energy of Classical Music
“Bold and insightful.” —Anthony Tommasini, former chief classical music critic, The New York Times
A new book by William Westney, author of the bestselling The Perfect Wrong Note, takes a fresh and creative look at the human dimension of classical music-making and why it matters more than ever in the contemporary world.
Eros at the Piano takes readers on a remarkable journey, combining intellectual vigor with down-to-earth wisdom for performers, teachers, and students. Using a conversational tone and rich with cross-disciplinary insight, Westney weaves together the philosophical concept of Eros with the art and practice of classical musicians. Why Eros? Eros was the ancient Greek god not only of love and sensuality but of all human creativity and interconnectedness, symbolizing a great realm of feeling and of wordless understanding.
It has always been a challenge to capture in words the ineffable experience of music. Eros offers a useful concept, a way to refer to that embodied realm of knowing, and it can inspire virtually every aspect of musical life: practicing, teaching…
2022: Performance with Jackson (MI) Symphony Orchestra of “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell
2021: Named Distinguished Professor Emeritus by the Board of Regents of Texas Tech University
2020: Joined the presenter faculty on the UK-based instructional site “Practising the Piano” (Online Academy). Looking forward to releasing many videos there on various topics. Here is a link to the first release:
Performed as concerto soloist on subscription concerts in the 2019-2020 season: Grieg Concerto (Lubbock Symphony Orchestra (TX), Jan. 17-18. My “Farewell” solo recital at Texas Tech University – I retired in May 2020 after 41 years – was November 17, 2019.
Summer 2020: Rejoined the faculty at Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists (Manchester, UK), and the InterHarmony Music Festival (Germany).
July 2017: Article published in Brain and Cognition 115:47-55: “Mirror neuron activation of musicians and non-musicians in response to motion captured piano performances”
The article “The Pedagogical Value of ‘Enjoyment’ in the Classical Piano Studio – A Research Report on a Transdisciplinary Study” (Grund, O’Boyle, Westney, Yang) was named “Article of the Year 2016” by MTNA E-Journal, and a cash award was presented at the Music Teachers National Association conference in March 2017.
Summer 2017: I returned as teacher and performer to the InterHarmony Music Festival in the picturesque town of Acqui Terme, Italy. I was the keynote speaker at the European Piano Teachers Association (UK) conference in Nottingham.
July 2016: workshops, public lectures, and coached solo and chamber performances at the Festival Filarmonico Juvenil in Chaco, Argentina, sponsored by Youth Orchestra of the Americas and by Fundación Pradier – Redes Culturales.
In 2015-16 I delivered online Webinars to young professional orchestral musicians in 15 countries in North and South America. Participants, all members of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, were enrolled in that organization’s elite Global Leaders program, focusing on musical outreach to all segments of society.
My book The Perfect Wrong Note was published in Japanese by Yamaha Music Media Corporation (2015).
A website from the United Kingdom, leanmusician.com, offers insightful articles designed to help musicians of all kinds meet with success and fulfillment. I was asked to deliver its first podcast, “Performance, Practice, and Redefining Mistakes,” which can be heard here: http://www.leanmusician.com/william-westney-interview/
Two articles on the transdisciplinary research project carried out by Westney, Grund, O’Boyle and Yang (see Research tab) have been published in recent months. (1) “Musical Embodiment and Perception: Performances, Avatars and Audiences”: SIGNATA. Annales des Sémiotique / Annals of Semiotics, # 6, 2015. Music and Meaning / Sémiotiques de la musique, Presses Universitaires de Liège (Belgium). (2) “The Pedagogical Value of ‘Enjoyment’ in the Classical Piano Studio – A Research Report on a Transdisciplinary Study”: MTNA E-Journal April 16, 2016 (Music Teachers National Association)
Texas Tech University named William Westney to its “Integrated Scholars” roster in 2014. A profile and 2-minute video can be seen HERE.
Now retired as professor of piano (after 42 years) I’m deeply grateful for decades of exploring music’s riches – its transcendent, flowing meaning; performers’ processes that integrate body, mind and spirit; the life-affirming contact with others that we feel when beautiful music is shared.
As concert pianist, teaching mentor, public speaker, workshop leader and author, I’ve sought practical and healthy solutions to the challenges musicians face. At the same time, it has been inspiring to look at the larger picture: to realize more and more how meaningfully musical experiences crystallize who we are as humans and what we can be.
My upcoming book (Rowman & Littelfield 2023) will delve into all this. It has been a profound pleasure to write and I do hope you will give it a read.
Thanks for visiting this site – and I’d be delighted to hear from you! – William Westney