Jorge Bolet, who will perform Thursday evening as part of the Kennedy Center's Terrace Concert Series, says, "There is a long, long line of pianists, which include Liszt and Chopin. I believe in being part of that tradition. Unfortunately we are getting away from it; there is more of a computerized kind of piano playing today."
Cuban-born Bolet, 70, believes he was "born a pianist." His first teacher was his sister and at age 12 he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, from which he graduated with top honors. Currently, he heads the Curtis piano department and each year performs in the United States, Europe and Canada. This summer he plans a seven-week engagement in Australia.
Bolet worries about the direction of pianists today: "Of all the arts, music is the most emotional -- a musical performance should be an emotional experience. The younger pianists are getting away from this." He objects to competitions, saying, "They are a necessary evil; there is no other way a young pianist can make it. This is very tragic. It doesn't foster piano playing that I believe in, rather it fosters a worship of the mechanical." Bolet has made numerous recordings of Liszt piano works, but prefers concerts. "When I record I am not playing to anybody; I need an audience for a certain stimulus," he says.