#1 “Choot-spa” – If you are going to be a public figure, you are bound to mispronounce words on occasion. People will make fun of you. That being the case, I think if you are going to sprinkle your soundbites with a dash of Yiddish, you better have some coaching before you read your script. Rep. Bachman may have stumbled upon a discovery. Mispronouncing something in Yiddish is somehow inherently more funny than a gaffe in another language. It was really some masterful irony. Simultaneously alienating people while trying to reach out by boldly mispronouncing a word can only be done by someone with chutzpah.

#2 “Playing the piano with a ‘beautiful, singing etc.’ tone” – Can the pianist of the world stop using this nonsensical language? I still regularly hear pianists say, “Oh, he gets such a beautiful tone out of the piano” or “She gets such beautiful colors out of the instrument.” Let’s make the record clear on this. You are not in contact with the string. You cannot affect the tone of the instrument by how you play it. You can only move the levers on the keyboard more quickly or more slowly. It is physically impossible to affect the tone of the instrument by your playing mechanism. If your playing has a beautiful tone, it is because you have a good piano technician. I thought this nonsense was put to rest 50 years ago when Hindemith couldn’t tell the difference between a pianist playing a note and someone playing a note with the point of an umbrella.

#3 “Class warfare” – In the current debt limit debate, I occasionally hear a politician use the term “class warfare” as if it is supposed to scare me somehow. If that term means that we are in a battle between the rich and the poor, then I think it has always been thus. Politicians are naive to think otherwise.

#4 “The tortured artist” – Once again, I have discovered a reference to the tortured artist myth. In brief, you have to suffer to make great art. As far as I can tell, this is a myth largely derived from Beethoven, but as Dalhaus points out, it is the Beethoven of the 5th, 7th, and 9th symphonies. No one makes the argument from the 6th symphony or the piano Bagatelles. The point is, Beethoven, like most people, experienced a wide range of emotions.

He was sometimes happy and sometimes sad.
Sometimes angry.
Sometimes bad.
Sometimes kind and sometimes cruel.
Er hat das gesamte menschlich Gef├╝hl.

He created from all of the places, not just one. At least I hope I’ve communicated that to my students. I think I’ve had some success. The last facebook study group they created was called, “Musicians don’t need to get syphilis to be great.”