Press Room

Pianist Jeremy Denk’s “Leveraged” blog post

Last fall Jeremy Denk’s “interview” – a deep dialogue on Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” sonata with former Vice-Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin – attracted countless non-musical readers to his blog, “Think Denk”, along with his regular followers from the world of classical music and beyond.  It was, and remains, one of the funniest and cleverest articles to appear online and in chatrooms during the emotionally-charged Presidential campaign (

Now Denk has posted “Leveraged”, a deeply diverting disquisition on the connection between reduced ticket sales and concert programming that is heavily leveraged in the wrong kind of music.

“This week brought fresh revelations that … many leading organizations [are] heavily leveraged in atonal credit swaps, more than the most pessimistic theorists had previously forecast.  ‘It’s astounding,’ one board member remarked (who preferred to remain anonymous), ‘one half of the orchestra is this solid, unimpeachable Brahms and Beethoven business, you know, transactions we can all understand, but some renegade arts administrators were trading on this Triple-B rating to run a whole other side business, Schoenberg, Boulez, Messiaen, even Wuorinen … well, who knows how that stuff works?’”

Denk’s investigation proves sonorously deep indeed – uncovering hidden notes formerly considered triple-A, but now revealed to conceal dangerously rocky shoals:

“For instance, many had long considered Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony the ultimate blue-chip asset.  But as the recession deepens, uncomfortable questions begin to be asked.  How much tonic major did Beethoven really need to add on to the end of the Symphony and how did he plan to pay for it?  ‘Clearly, Beethoven laid the ground for this C-major investment in episodes of the slow movement, and thought of it as a diversifying counterweight to the tragic end of the business in the first movement,’ said Professor Nouriel Rossini of the Indiana University Theory Department, ‘but you have to understand the first movement also involves taking on a great deal of risk, and risk doesn’t just vanish in a blaze of C major.’  Jon Stewart was more blunt on The Daily Show, remarking ‘What the &*() was Beethoven thinking?!?’”

According to Denk, Congress has begun an investigation in an attempt to finger and chastise the guilty, particularly given the evident involvement of “instruments” previously considered blameless:

“Caught in the middle of this musico-financial maelstrom are works with prime melodies but subprime development, the obvious example being the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio.

“Who’s to blame for escalating crisis?  One after the other, critics, performers, conductors, and heavily coughing audience members are being hauled before Congress to become temporary scapegoats.

Many Denk fans know him best through his insightful blog, and many wonder how a world-class pianist finds enough time to write so much and so well in the face of his schedule full of concerts, rehearsals, teaching, and travel!

Upcoming 2009 engagements:

Jeremy Denk and Joshua Bell on tour in Europe:

March 27 – Eindhoven, Netherlands

April 2 – Geneva, Switzerland

April 29, 30

Toronto, ON: Toronto Symphony Orchestra / Peter Oundjian

Bach: Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052

May 7

New York, NY: Symphony Space

Bach: “Goldberg” Variations, BWV 988

May 17, 19

New York, NY: Alice Tully Hall

“Mendelssohn at 200” with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

June 13

Ojai, CA: Ojai Music Festival

Bach: “Goldberg” Variations, BWV 988

#          #            #

Return to Press Room