Yefim Bronfman talks to pianist Lara Downes about his life and career.
Yefim Bronfman is: Fima to friends; a powerhouse pianist of such virtuosic muscle as to have been dubbed “the brontosaur” by author Philip Roth in his novel The Human Stain; a dedicated foodie/former Iron Chef judge; a renowned Prokofiev specialist who is bringing that composer’s complete cycle of nine (powerhouse) piano sonatas to Cal Performances this season…
A career like Bronfman’s keeps one airborne much of the time, crossing countries and continents almost daily to keep up with an incessant calendar of concert engagements. We started our call by talking about the road-warrior lifestyle of the 21st-century virtuoso.
This life in music today, the physical and mental demands of the frenetic schedule and the nonstop travel, not to mention the work itself: do you think it keeps you young, or does it all start to wear you down as the years go on?
Well, you know, in many ways the logistics of the traveling life are so much easier now than they were 100 years ago. I mean, it used to take a week to get from America to Europe, so you couldn’t practice for all that time if you were a pianist, unless you could put a piano on the ship! Or if you were taking trains everywhere, it took much longer to go from place to place.
Nowadays, I can leave for London today and practice there tomorrow morning. It’s not such a big deal to travel, so you actually have more time because of the frequency and speed of the flights themselves. Today you can get a nonstop flight anywhere you need to go.