The first sentence of Igor Levit’s bio says that he is “one of the most relevant pianists of his generation.” What does that mean? I think it means that the bio-writer regards Levit as cool. It may also mean that Levit has a taste for politics. In any event, “relevant” is one of the great nonsense words of this age.

Relevant, irrelevant, or neither, Levit came to Zankel Hall to play a recital. He began with Shostakovich and ended with Beethoven. In between came Rzewski—Frederic Rzewski, an American born in 1938. From what I can glean, he pronounces his name “Zhev-ski.” He had a gold-plated education, studying at the Phillips Academy, Harvard, and Princeton. Among his composition teachers were Piston, Sessions, and Babbitt. Rzewski has spent most of his career in Europe.

According to our program notes at Zankel...

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