Do Concert Pianists Have to Keep Learning New Music? Chopin Fantasy in F Minor

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. The question today is, “Do Concert Pianists Have to Keep Learning New Music?” You would think after decades of performing concerts, artists would have enough repertoire to last a lifetime. I grew up around my father, Morton Estrin, who was a concert pianist. He would be aghast when one of his colleagues was playing a New York recital without new repertoire. He would say, “My goodness, that’s the same program they played for their graduate recital at Juilliard 20 years ago!” My father was a firm believer in constantly expanding his repertoire. In fact, it wasn’t until he was in his eighties that he learned the complete Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which he then performed at Hofstra University Playhouse.

Concert pianists continue learning new music for their entire careers.

My teacher, Ruth Slenczynska, who you may have seen in the interview here on and YouTube, is also a spectacular pianist. She started concertizing at the age of 4! She studied with some of the most luminary pianists of the 20th century, including Rachmaninoff, Schnabel to Cortot and Hoffmann.
At 97 years old, she’s still performing and recording. And yes, she’s learning new music!

Why is it so important to continue expanding your repertoire?

In life, you’re either growing or you’re dying. You must constantly explore new avenues. Never give up your curiosity! As a pianist, you constantly expand your repertoire. This is how you grow as a musician and remain vibrant and vital in this world. In that spirit, I’ve been learning some new pieces lately, and I thought I’d share with you an absolutely stupendous piece of music I’ve always loved, Chopin’s Fantasy in F minor. My father’s first recording in the 1950s for Fantasy Records was of the complete Chopin Ballads and the Fantasy in F minor. So I’m thrilled to share this performance with you!

It’s a pleasure to learn new music!

It’s exciting to explore great works like this! The remarkable thing about piano repertoire is that it’s virtually endless. There’s more great piano music out there than anyone could possibly tackle in a lifetime. The other great thing about piano repertoire is that not all pieces are that difficult. There are pieces of Chopin and dozens of other composers that are very accessible. So no matter what level you’re on, whether you’re a seasoned concert pianist, or just starting out, always learn new music! It enriches your life, and it’s good for your soul! Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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15 thoughts on “Do Concert Pianists Have to Keep Learning New Music? Chopin Fantasy in F Minor”


    1. Some people lose cognitive ability with age, while others don’t. You can mitigate the loss of mental plasticity by exercising it. What better way than playing the piano!

  1. Thank you, Robert. You played the Chopin Fantasy so beautifully and with so much emotional expression.

    This piece has always been one of my favorite Chopin pieces since my Music Academy years. (In fact, I played this Fantasy at my Senior Recital against my teacher’s wishes, and thankfully it went very well. While performing it, I remember forgetting about the audience and becoming one with the music for the first time during my early musical training – if you know what I mean.) You brought back so many memories for me watching you perform it and hearing you play this magnificent and difficult piano piece.

    Thank you again for your wonderful suggestions and helpful hints. You are a very gifted and talented pianist, teacher and musician.

  2. Just curious how long did it take you to memorize and learn that beautiful piece?

    I learn different levels from pro to intermediate pieces because the pro technically more challenging pieces take longer.

    1. Initial memorization took around 3 weeks. (It would have been much less if I had more time to practice!) Then I was doing some traveling, and came back to it and worked on it some more before recording the video. Although I did make audio recording of it early on which wasn’t bad!

  3. Hi Robert, this video is stunning, the piece and your interpretation. I thought listening to it that Chopin didn’t need to write orchestral works or operas etc which he was pressurised to do to make his mark in the musical world of the time. I felt like I was listening to an orchestra with the full range of instruments in just this one piano composition. A true magician of a composer and in the words of Schumann, Hats off gentlemen, a genius.
    Thank you, Robert.

  4. I have the complete cd library of Chopin’s work. I pop a new cd in my player every Sunday night and listen to it through the week. I really started to love the Ballade in G Minor. One day I started thinking about learning it. So I sent for the score and now leave it on the music stand. I spend maybe 10-15 minutes on it each time I pass by, trying different sections or reviewing something worked on from an earlier session. Not exactly the organized way I allow my students to learn a piece, but it keeps me going. Yes, it may take me a year or so to get it up to a reasonable performance level, but who cares. LOL. It’s like attacking something new everyday.

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