On Your Own Terms

On Your Own Terms

Some years ago I started collecting recordings of pianists. I’ve always enjoyed piano music, so I decided to find out why, I decided to compare pianists and see who was best. I bought lots of CDs, old LPs, even 78s. Multiple versions of the same pieces. I listened and listened. It was tricky. The thing is, most of them turned out to be good, but in different ways. You can find the fastest and most accurate easily enough, but isn’t this one the most expressive? That one the most exciting? This the most enthralling?

I think my favourite pianist is a man called Alfred Cortott. Not particularly fast. He played huge numbers of wrong notes. He’d never win a competition. But he was the most interesting of all. The best to listen to. If you only compared him to others you’d never rate him, but on his own terms he was a total genius.

And the more I listen to pianists, the less I want to compare them. After many years I am learning to appreciate them on their own terms, with a different yardstick for each pianist.

I think this is how we should evaluate each other. Never compare. Appreciate people on their own terms, according to their unique selves.

This is how God views each of us.


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