Summer Talk with Piano Professor Peter Takács

Learn his thoughts on recording, what he loves about Oberlin in summer, and more.

June 14, 2017

Conservatory Communications Staff

Peter Takács.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Romanian-born pianist Peter Takács has enjoyed a career that has taken him all over the world. From Peabody to Tanglewood to Schlern, his résumé is inarguably impressive. He has been passing on his knowledge at Oberlin Conservatory since 1976.

How are you spending Summer 2017? Working on any fun projects?

The summer opened with a major project—recording the complete Beethoven cello-piano repertoire, which consists of five sonatas and three sets of variations. My partner was eminent cellist Robert deMaine, principal cellist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. There are times when you find an artist who is on the same wavelength with you, and it creates a marvelous music-making experience. This was one of those rare occasions.

Young musicians (and some not-so-young) often feel much more anxiety in the recording studio than on the concert stage. Do you have any advice on how to be successful in the studio?

Playing in front of microphones is always a stressful experience. What I have learned is that you can let go and be spontaneous in the studio, because you can always do it again! There is a psychological phenomenon in which repeating a difficult passage can improve it until it starts deteriorating! At that point, it’s best to stop and move on to something else. Much has to do with the producer, who is your therapist for the session. One more thing: Modern editing is a miraculous thing, but it’s important not to overedit in order to maintain the flow of the music.

What is one thing you enjoy about spending the summer in Oberlin?

Oberlin in the summer is so different from the academic year! There is music in Tappan Square, a great summer theater season, good biking, some backyard barbecuing, a chance to finally read that book you’ve been keeping on the back burner, and always the Apollo [Theatre]!

As a busy professor/mentor/musician, can you offer a piece of advice on how to lead a productive summer?

Definitely look for a summer festival or camp where you can meet your peers and play chamber music…and make sure there is a lake, pond, or pool nearby.

What is your favorite snack/meal in town?  

Tater tots at the Feve!

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man seated in front of grand piano