One of the things I have always loved about piano music is that for a long time it was the most democratic part of the classical music world. In the 19th century — the glory years of classical music — if you wanted to hear music in your home you would have to play it yourself, and many people became acquainted with famous operas or symphonies only from the piano transcriptions that they could play themselves, in their own homes. Good pianists, bad pianists, amateur pianists, virtuosi — anyone interested in the music found out about it by playing it, or at least trying to. When I put the pieces together on this disc I started wondering if there were some way to engage that same wide range of listeners and performers and abilities, so I thought up this contest. Of course I hope that some people will submit their videos, but what makes me most excited is the hope that many more people will download the free sheet music and play the piece themselves. That makes me really happy.
One of the horrifying things about growing older is that your friends don't all grow older with you. People grow sick and then they die. You watch, you try to comfort them, and then you try to comfort yourself. The true horror is that after a while your memories begin to fade. How long can you hold on to the sound of a voice, the memory of a strange event, a bittersweet feeling, a silly story?I was friends with all the dedicatees of these set of pieces — some were closer friends than others — and I have very personal memories of my dealings with them that I don't want to fade. Each of these little pieces highlights some aspect of my relationship with each friend. I hope this will help me hold on to these memories just a little while longer.