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Musicians Memorizing Music

Updated: Oct 28


Have you ever wondered how classical musicians memorize an entire program of music, and why?


Playing from memory can be an awesome experience for the performer and the audience. Personally, I just feel like I’m a little bit more free. I love performing from memory, but man… it takes a lot of work to keep things in my brain. I’ve heard lore about certain performers being particularly good at this skill.


I’ve heard it said that Camille Saint-Saëns took audience requests for Beethoven Piano Sonatas – you’d have to have around 12 hours of music memorized in order to pull this off, and that’s on top of everything else you have memorized. Daniel Barenboim, at the age of eighteen performed the complete cycle of the Beethoven Sonatas. Pieter Wispelway, a Dutch cellist, is well known for performing the complete Cello Suites by J.S. Bach in a single day, and he’s not the only one.


I’ve heard that Pablo Casals would play a different cello suite for the each day of the week (repeating the 6th on Sundays). It would be so great to start each day with Bach.




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