Harmonious chords fill the air as Victor Rosenbaum’s hands fly across the piano, resonating melodies throughout Cochran Chapel as both students and other Andover community members attend the Academy’s first guest performance of 2022.
A classically trained pianist, Rosenbaum has not only performed with a variety of music groups and styles, but has also composed, conducted, recorded multiple CDs, and taught widely across the country, including at Andover where he held a master class. Despite all of his accomplishments, Rosenbaum conveys that instead of just taking away an impression of his skill, he would like the audience to be moved by the emotion in his performance.
“I hope to convey the beauty of the music, the emotion of the music, the philosophy[…] the meaning of life, what it means to be alive because it expresses every aspect of human experience. [There are some performances] where people are kind of like ‘Wow, how is that possible to do that, so many notes, so hard, so difficult,’ where the main thing you go away with is being impressed with just the sheer skill of doing it. But my hope is that people will go away feeling touched or moved or exhilarated, and, in some way, changed. I’ve changed their life, at least for a short while,” said Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum’s interest in piano started at an early age, but he had not always anticipated that he would pursue music, at one point considering a medical career. But after nearly a decade of commitment to music, Rosenbaum decided to follow his musical passion beyond college because certain interactions that he had with music had changed and moved him. One such experience was at The Aspen Music School and Festival in Colorado, where he was exposed to musical talent on a large and international scale.
“[It] would have probably either discouraged me and said, ‘oh, I could never do this, everybody’s better than me,’ and caused me to give up, or it would have been sort of an inspiration. It turned out that it was that, the second. I was so inspired to be with people who were that good and to hear so much music. So I just kept going, and I knew it was a difficult profession, but I loved music and it seemed I had a gift for it, an aptitude, so I just followed the path that seemed to be laid out for me.”
While following his love of music down a career path, Rosenbaum also educated himself in other areas, as he comments that all great composers know about a variety of topics. As a result of his supplementary studies, Rosenbaum draws inspiration from life, literature, art, and more; this extensive knowledge helped him develop his viewpoints on music, and find ways to connect music to everyone no matter their musical experience or education.
“Instead of going to music schools, both undergraduate and graduate, I went to universities. I had the kind of mind which wanted to know not just how to play the piano well, but how to understand music deeply, theoretically, analytically, historically, and also other things besides music, because I thought all great composers knew a lot about a lot of things. For me, music speaks to the human condition. It bypasses language, in most cases, there is some music that has text, but most music doesn’t have text to tell you a story or what it’s about, but yet it speaks to the whole range of human emotion, I feel. Therefore, everybody can be affected and moved by music, they don’t have to know a particular language, or have [a] background in some particular area of expertise,” said Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum’s intentions for music to connect and communicate can be heard within his performances; many audience members at the recital felt that they could resonate with the music, whether it be through their imagination or a technical appreciation. One concertgoer, Evan Huang ’23, commented on how Rosenbaum was able to convey a notable rendition of a familiar piece through his unique presentation of the music.
“I liked a lot of the interpretive verses that were [in] certain pieces[…]One piece that I was familiar with was the Barcarolle, the last piece that he played, and usually in other recordings when I’ve listened to the piece, they take some parts in the left hand faster. But, he took more time and he put more emotion into those notes. I thought that was different from everything that I’ve listened to before. Going on with that same theme with the piece having more time, with the piece having more emotion, he did something similar near the climax of the piece, where right before he started on the passage, he lifted the pedal [and] put more time [in] to emphasize that important part in the piece,” said Huang.