LIONEL PARTY, Harpsichord
THE FACTS: Born in Santiago, Chile, where he got his musical training. Received a Fulbright to study with harpsichordist Albert Fuller at The Juilliard School, earning a doctor of musical arts degree. Won first prize in the J.S. Bach Fourth International Competition in Leipzig. Active freelance musician. At the Philharmonic: Began playing with the Orchestra in 1984. Made solo debut in Poulenc’s Concert champêtre in 1991. On the faculty of Juilliard and The Curtis Institute of Music.
EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: My mother practicing the piano for hours on end, and me
sitting on her lap as she practiced. When I was four, my parents took me to hear the pianist Alfred Cortot; I remember his warm and intense sound. The first piece I fell in love with was Haydn’s C-major Serenade.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THE HARPSICHORD? I began playing the piano at six. When I was eight, I heard Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp major on the radio; my father said it was being played on a harpsichord. It was ravishing — too good to be true! I had to play that instrument. I started at 19; at 25, I had no time for both, and decided to focus on the harpsichord.
HOW MANY HARPSICHORDS DO YOU HAVE? I have a magnificent French-style harpsichord with a lush, deep, dark sound; a Flemish harpsichord; and a spinettino in the 16thcentury Venetian style.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR? My Chilean piano teacher, Elena Waiss
WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? I was trained as a professional musician from an early age, and always knew I would be one.
WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF THE HARPSICHORD? Maintenance and tuning — it is easily affected by any change in humidity.
MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Playing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 with Zubin Mehta; he allowed me to improvise a second movement of my own.
MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS: Bach, Couperin, and others. Lately, I’ve become infatuated with the music of Jean-Henry D’Anglebert, a late 17th-century organist and harpsichordist for Louis XIV at Versailles.
ARE THERE MUSICIANS IN YOUR FAMILY? My daughter plays Baroque violin; my son is a rock musician.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Teach, converse, learning to dance, cook, read, and practice calligraphy