Carl Quiz: Matthew McCright

Matthew McCrightMatthew McCright, adjunct professor in piano, is no Mozart. He didn’t discover his piano genius until the ripe old age of eight (Mozart was five). “I was the lone child at a family friend’s dinner party, and I was bored out of my mind,” he says. “I wandered into another room and started picking out tunes on the piano. Nothing elaborate, of course, but the adults fell silent. My parents said, ‘Well, we’ll need to find a piano teacher and get a piano.’ ”

From that point on, the piano became McCright’s main focus. He earned a doctor of musical arts degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota and now performs throughout the world as a freelance pianist. In February he will release his first solo recording, Second Childhood, which will highlight the various influences on his music—the preludes and waltzes of his early piano training, ’50s and ’60s bebop, blues, and ragtime.

With his recording session behind him, we gave McCright something else to play—the Carl Quiz. Here’s the score:

Hometown: Greenville, Pennsylvania

First job: Day camp counselor

First song learned on the piano: “Ode to Joy,” the theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (a very easy version!)

Favorite piano man: American composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski [ZHEV-ski] is an expatriate living in Brussels who is extremely political in his life and, therefore, his music. I’m drawn to his persona.

Best piano composition: Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana. Schumann led a turbulent life, eventually dying in an institution from manic depression. This is evident in this piece, which changes mood quickly.

Why the piano: It speaks to me in a way other instruments do not. It allows for a broad spectrum of emotions—inspiration, joy, passion—that one often can’t express in “real” life.

Grand piano or upright: Grand, of course

Pick a piano: Steinway. It really has no rival. The sound is rich, deep, warm, delicate, wide ranging, and displays a full palette of colors—all at the same time.

Hidden talent: I have terrific instincts for reading people. It’s saved me from a lot of trouble.

Web Extra: Listen to sound clips of McCright’s performances.

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