"What is your favourite piece and who is your favourite composer?". This is a question which I have been asked many, MANY, times, and honestly, it is a valid one. I myself am also curious about which composer or which piece other musicians love. There is just one tiny problem, this question is IMPOSSIBLE to answer. I used to say that the composer or composition I liked best was whatever I was playing at the moment. Unfortunately, many people do not find that answer satisfying, which is why I would like to take this opportunity to further explain myself.
Every piece you perform must mean something to you
First of all, when you are preparing a piece you are going to perform during a concert, you have to become emotionally connected to it in one way or the other. If not, you don't stand a chance in trying to convey its beauty or relevance to your audience, which is one of my most important goals as an artist. This way, every piece you have ever performed and ever will perform must truly mean something to you, in its own and unique way, which makes it hard to choose one over the other. Secondly, every composer has a different sound world and 'language' that he or she uses which often makes it impossible to compare them to each other. Take for example Mozart and Stravinksy. Both of them were revolutionary in their own way, although they lived in a different era and tried to break free from a different society and cultural context. How do you compare them though, Mozart, with his extreme wit, and Stravinsky, with his almost harsh humanness? Quite impossible to make a choice if you ask me. Thirdly, I often notice that when I do not really like a composer or composition, it is only because my lack of knowledge or lack of experience with the composer or composition. I often need to play through a piece or listen to a recording several times before I start to find a narrative which eventually makes me like it. How do I know for sure that I don't like a piece for valid reasons and not just for a lack of understanding it?
Playing the works of one composer makes me appreciate another composer more as well
Lastly, I love the variety of compositions and composers I perform and study. Playing the works of one composer makes me appreciate another composer more as well. Without playing Stravinsky, I would not necessarily notice how delicately Mozart can move from one key to another, and without playing Mozart, Stravinksy's brutal honestness wouldn't be so apparent. Learning more about one composer makes you more curious about the other.
So there is it! A couple of reasons why it is so hard to make a choice. My favourite music of today might be replaced by something else tomorrow, but I guess I came up with a solution though. Since I can't make a choice, I won't. Instead I will play as much music as I can, written by all kinds of extraordinary composers, while keeping my eyes and most importantly my ears open to new music. Now that is what I call a happy thought!