Chocolate for breakfast, Fuchs for lunch

by Alicia Anstead

You probably had a sandwich for lunch today. I had Robert Fuchs’ Piano Sonata, op. 88. I’m pretty sure the music quenched a deeper hunger than any sandwich could have.

My midday "meal" was a concert in the University Hall Recital Series, a music "fair" of sorts that takes place about once a month in the Faculty Room of that historic hall.

The featured artist today was pianist Seda Roeder, visiting fellow at Harvard and teacher at MIT. Roeder is Turkish, but it’s Viennese piano music that captured her imagination today. Ergo Fuchs.

Fuchs, you say? Indeed, few in the room had heard of him or his music. Same for me, and I have a piano background. Turns out, Fuchs was hanging around Vienna the same time as Brahms. Fuchs himself never had an international career, but his students were Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Jean Sibelius. And his music bears some similarity to that of his friend Johannes B.

Roeder’s playing quieted my head and quickened my soul in the middle of a busy workday. Her lightest moments seemed to shimmer out from some secret place behind her raised eyebrows. But she also appeared to be discovering the depths of the music for the first time, as if she were magically encountering, puzzling and understanding each note. That type of practiced spontaneity is hard to come by.

After the concert, I asked Roeder if a noon performance is different from a night concert. She smiled (which she does a lot). "I wake up in the morning. I come and play," she said. "With a night concert, there’s more time to get nervous."

She also told me she eats chocolate to calm her nerves before performing. Which means she ate chocolate for breakfast today. That’s OK. I had a taste of Fuchs for lunch. I think Roeder and I both ended up full.

To find out about upcoming concerts in the University Hall Recital Series, which features classical and other genres of live music, email: musicdpt@fas.harvard.edu.

To learn more about Seda Roeder, visit her website at: www.sedaroeder.com. Be sure to check out her Black Box podcasts and touring calendar.

[Caption: Seda Roeder is one of the most smiling pianists ever. ]