Book ends

Dr Henry Wong Doe.
Dr Henry Wong Doe.

Who: Dr Henry Wong Doe, 38, associate professor of piano at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The New Zealander, who is single, will be performing his debut piano recital at the Esplanade Recital Studio on Aug 4 at 7.30pm. Tickets at $25 are available from MW Events Management (tel: 6717-6087).

What are you reading now?

I am reading A Century Of Music-Making: The Lives Of Josef And Rosina Lhevinne by Robert K. Wallace. Josef and Rosina Lhevinne were legendary teachers at The Juilliard School in the middle of the last century. The Lhevinnes, who were husband and wife, taught famous pianists such as Van Cliburn.

As a graduate of the school, and from the perspective of my life as both a performing artist and teacher, I wanted to become more informed of the history of the school and its esteemed faculty. 

I am also reading Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution by David Carter. It is an in-depth historical account of a series of riots in June 1969 that occurred over police action at The Stonewall Inn, a small gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York. Many establishments which attracted gays and lesbians were often raided by police, due to the anti-gay laws in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

The riots were the catalyst for change. It is amazing how far things have come since then. It is a great book.

What books would you save from a burning house?

I would save as many of my music scores as possible, but, in particular, my two Beethoven Sonata volumes. He is one of my favourite composers - I can relate well to the "struggle" and "battle" that was very much a part of his composing process in my own practice. Beethoven's music speaks to me as it balances raw energy, emotion and passion with equally powerful moments of delicacy and spirituality.

I would also save my copy of The Great Pianists: From Mozart To The Present by Harold C. Schonberg. This is an essential book for any pianist. It is a historical account of many important pianists of the 20th century. I encourage all of my students to read this comprehensive book, since many are unfamiliar with pianists who lived in the middle of the twentieth century, such as Sviatoslav Richter, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Benno Moiseiwitsch and Josef Hofmann.

Students today are most cognisant of modern performers, but it is important to learn and understand the tradition of pianists who came way before them.


•The Great Pianists: From Mozart To The Present by Harold C. Schonberg (top left, $30.19, 2006, Simon & Schuster (US)) is available from Books Kinokuniya. A Century Of Music-Making: The Lives Of Josef And Rosina Lhevinne (top right, $39.98, 1976, Indiana University Press) and Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution (left, $23.95, 2010, St. Martin's Griffin) are available from Amazon.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 19, 2015, with the headline '(No headline) - BOOKENDS19'. Print Edition | Subscribe