The A-Z of the piano

We celebrate the world's most popular instrument with a look at 26 of its greatest features

N is for Notes of a Pianist and other autobiographies

Autobiographies of pianists are not as numerous as biographies, but a surprising proportion of them are vividly penned and revealing. Among the best are two early ones: Notes of a Pianist (Knopf, 1964), the journals of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and Henri Herz’s Mes voyages en Amérique (Achille Faure, 1866). Gary Graffman’s I Really Should be Practicing (Doubleday, 1981) is a wryly amusing insider’s view of his profession.


The two longest pianist autobiographies are, curiously, also the most disappointing: Arthur Rubinstein’s two volumes (My Young Years and My Many Years, Jonathan Cape, 1973 and 1980) and Earl Wild’s toe-curling, brick-sized A Walk on the Wild Side (Ivory Classics, 2011).