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Pianist Inspired By Toddlers And Beethoven's Sense Of Humor

Orli Shaham
Christian Steiner
Courtesy of Orli Shaham

Pianist Orli Shaham asked her parents for piano lessons when she was 5. She's still playing music for preschoolers, as well as adults.

In her "Baby Got Bach" series, Shaham gives kids a chance to play with musical instrument, and listen to live chamber music.

"I feel that music is another language, and there is no better age to start picking up the rhythms and intonations of another language as this sort of 3- to 6-year-old age," Shaham told "Cityscape" host Steve Potter. "And I also feel like that time of life is when we develop things that will become lifelong loves."

She makes some concessions for her young audience.

"I make the pieces very short, so even if we do great masterpieces I try not to make any piece longer than three minutes," she said. "But I also find ways of getting their attention to what's about to happen. I guide them through the listening in a way that makes sense for a 3-year-old."

Bach isn't the only great to garner Shaham's attention. She will release "Music By Brahms" in the spring.

"It includes three of Brahms' late opuses for piano, so those last gorgeous, stunning little gems of piano works that are so loaded with meaning and emotion, as well as music that inspired him in his composition," she said. 

And, of course, there's Beethoven. Shaham will play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in this weekend's All Beethoven concert with the St. Louis Symphony.

"It's a great masterpiece," she said. "He wrote it very early on — it's incredible what he was already able to say and how well he was able to manipulate our emotions so much at such a young age.

"One of the things that I love about this concerto is that he puts in a great deal of humor, which is something he learned from Haydn, with whom he had been studying before he wrote this. It's great to see Beethoven having that kind of fun with something. He didn't continue to do it in the same way throughout his life, so I really enjoy it in this piece."

Related Event

Jun Markl conducts the St. Louis Symphony, featuring pianist Orli Shaham

  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014
  • Where: Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.