It has been said that years ago a wager took place between two great composers; Mozart and Haydn. Mozart’s challenge was simple; if Haydn could sight-read Mozart’s newest composition, a case of champagne would be his. But, as Hadyn soon figured out, Mozart was not one to easily part with a case of champagne.
As the challenge began, Haydn sat down at the piano to play the new composition. Mozart stood off to the side of the piano, eager to watch Haydn tackle the piece. Music filled the room as Haydn’s fingers masterfully stroked the keys. But, just as Mozart had secretly predicted, Haydn stopped abruptly. “Impossible!” cried Haydn. “This piece cannot be played.”
His frustration lay in the fact that the music required his right hand to be playing keys on the upper octaves, his left hand to be playing keys on the lower octaves and a single note, which lay directly in between his two hands, to be struck simultaneously. Mozart, of course, was simply amused by Haydn’s seemingly impossible obstacle. Gracefully, and undoubtedly smugly, Mozart sat down at the piano and began to play the piece. And, just as he reached the climactic challenge, with hands striking keys on opposite ends of the piano, Mozart lowered his head and struck the “impossible note” with his nose.
As all piano players know, the piano can seem like an impossible instrument. But, while playing with your nose is generally discouraged, there is always a solution to overcoming the obstacles in an “impossible piece”. And, if pianists have learned anything during their years of study, it is how to persevere in the face of incredible challenges… a skill that piano lessons, more than any other activity, seems to hone to perfection!