Paula Zahn in conversation with world-renowned and celebrated pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. Followed by a visit to The Morgan Library & Museum for a look at the work of British artist David Hockney, whose fascination with portraiture has spanned his 50-year career.

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[upbeat marimba music] - [Paula] Coming up on NYC Arts, a conversation with celebrated pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.

- It's so full of passion of young man wanting to conquer the world and at the same time, it has this innocence, beauty, melodies that comes from the sort of folk song tradition.

They speak very directly to our hearts and it's very intimate.

[lively piano music] - [Paula] And a visit to the Morgan Library and Museum for a look at the work of British artist David Hockney, who's fascination with portraiture has spanned his 50 year career.

- David Hockney: Drawing from Life is a survey of this fantastic British artist, and he's someone who simply is working on doing some drawing every day.

So how to compass, how to get your hands around such a huge outfit of work.

And so the great decision was made, take five sitters who he has drawn in different modes for decades and focus on them.

- [Male Announcer] Funding for NYC arts is made possible by Thea Petscheck Iervolino Foundation, the Lewis 'Sonny' Turner Fund for Dance.

Jodie and John Arnhold, the Ambrose Monell Foundation, Rosalind P Walter, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Charles and Valerie Diker, the Nancy Sidewater Foundation, Elroy and Terry Krumholtz Foundation, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, and Ellen and James S Marcus.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

Additional funding provided by Members of Thirteen.

NYC Arts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

- [Female Narrator] First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank first refers to our first priority.

The clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree.

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

- [Male Announcer] And by Swann Auction Galleries.

- [Female Narrator] Swann Auction Galleries.

We have a different way of looking at auctions.

Offering vintage books and fine arts since 1941.

Working to combine knowledge with accessibility whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer, or looking to sell, information@swanngalleries.com.

[adventurous orchestral music] - Good evening and welcome to NYC Arts.

I'm Paula Zahn.

On tonight's program, a conversation with the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.

The New York Times has called him a pianist of magisterial elegance, power and insight, and the Wall Street Journal named him one of the most gifted musicians of his generation.

Known for his commanding technique and inspiring interpretations, he has won acclaim worldwide, performing recitals and concertos with the world's foremost orchestras.

[lively orchestral music] An avid chamber musician, he is also the founding director of the Rosendahl Chamber Music Festival in his native Norway.

Due to the pandemic, Andsnes has taken his performances online.

Currently he's looking forward to a European tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in May.

I had the pleasure of speaking with him when he was in New York in the fall of 2019.

Welcome to New York!

- Thank you. - I understand this happens to be one of, New York City happens to be one of your favorite cities.

- I feel so grateful for so many opportunities here.

I played 30 years ago in my first recital in Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie.

I played in my first recital in the big hall in Carnegie in the Stern Auditoriums 20 years ago, and since then, so many wonderful things happen to me here.

The intensity of playing in that hall and the beauty of sound, the magic that you can have 2,800 people listening just to one piano and feeling that there can be intimacy in such a large space.

That's magical.

And then there is the life, the diversity of everything that the city has to offer.

I just love it.

- I think New York audiences do have very high standards and I'm curious if there is a difference as you travel around the world.

- You feel a certain concentration, silence in the audience sometimes.

And they respond in different ways.

In Japan, you have a very, very quiet audience during the concert.

You wonder if there's somebody there?

Of course, if I play in Vienna, so many of the great composers actually live there they feel an ownership to this music, which is very special, but ultimately I feel the music is so universal and that is the wonderful thing.

I can play my Grieg concerto in Venezuela or in China or in Northern Norway or in New York and people will react to it because there's something in us that it's been touched deeply.

- I had the privilege of hearing you rehearse the Grieg concerto which was an extraordinary experience.

Is it a piece that you feel very deeply?

- I do.

I also, at some stage, felt that this was being too closely connected to me because Grieg is Norwegian, I'm Norwegian, and it was my breakthrough piece, so many places early in my career.

[dramatic piano music] Being a young Norwegian pianist, having this great piece written by the young Grieg.

He was 25 when he wrote it.

It's so full of passion of young man wanting to conquer the world.

And at the same time, it has this innocent beauty, this child-like beauty, these sort of melodies that comes from the sort of folk song tradition.

They speak very directly to our hearts and it's very intimate.

So intimate and extroverted at the same time.

It's a very potent concert piece.

I love playing it in Vienna.

[dramatic piano music] - You have traveled many, many thousands of miles musically and physically since your early days as a budding pianist in Norway.

Tell me a little bit about the early roots of your love of music.

Both of your parents were music teachers, right?

- They were music teachers.

I'm from a small community, from an island called Karmo√ły on the Western part of Norway and I was lucky to have parents who have connection to music and there was a piano in our home and they were actually teaching some, a few children in our home and that's why I asked when I was four years old.

I asked my parents, can I also play?

I like this.

- When did it become clear to you that you did have the talent to travel the world and become a professional pianist?

- I think around the age of 13, 14, I suddenly realized that there was no way back.

That this was my life.

This was really my language, but I do remember, you know, sitting down at the piano being seven, eight, nine, trying to sight read certain pieces.

It may be Nocturne by Chopin, a short piece by Grieg, some Mozart and feeling a sense of wonder and a sense of sensation that this was my space.

This is my vocabulary.

This is my language.

This is how I can communicate with the world.

And that was strong from early on.

- You would have spent the better half of the last decade and a half doing deep dives into different composers.

Let's talk about Chopin for a moment.

What drew you to Ballads and Nocturnes? [soft piano music] - When I heard the Chopin ballads, the four ballads when I was 11 I think on a small cassettes, I listened to it day and night and I thought I had never heard such beautiful music and I still think it goes so deep into my heart.

It's the peak of romantic piano music.

The diversity of emotion in this music, and it's ever changing.

There's so many transitions, you know, you have a beautiful tune and then you have a moment of such soul and then you have passages that are very entertaining.

I don't understand how he was creating his compositions because it seems so improvised and it's at the same time it's still coherent, this composition.

And these are four very intense masterpieces and I thought I needed to have a bit of breathing space, so I put some Nocturnes in between them. [soulful piano music] They are also intense pieces but they are a little bit calmer.

So that's my portrait of Chopin.

[soulful piano music] - You also delved into the music of Sibelius who most of us wouldn't necessarily consider as a composer for a pianist.

- It's true.

He's really not known for his pianomezzo.

He is the orchestra composer.

I mean, for me, he's the greatest Nordic composer and his symphonies and his orchestra music has followed me from when I was very young and it goes very deep.

And I saw that there were all these piano pieces that nobody played and I thought, isn't it worth looking at?

And I read through everything.

It's more uneven.

Piano wasn't his instrument.

You feel when you play it, [slow piano music] it doesn't sound natural like it does with the orchestra for him.

But then there are these jewels now and then that I discovered.

As a composition, so special, they can seem very simple on the surface and then something surprising happens after a few seconds and you wonder, where's this going?

And there's a mystery around Sibelius' music which I adore.

[slow piano music] They are so beautiful and nobody knows them.

- You also tackled a very ambitious project.

It unfolded over a four year period and that was performing all of Beethoven's concertos.

- In 2012, I started this project and I played his piano concertos again and again over three or four years.

Also sonatas, chamber music, I was basically only playing Beethoven.

And when you work on one language for so long, [fast-paced piano music] you, I guess you'd maybe get better at it.

And you start to understand and experience the different layers of it.

And I came out to the project feeling that these music which is so structured and so full of storytelling and contrast, and what would you know, oh, it's a spine and you feel that Beethoven knows what he wants. [energetic piano music] He always has a goal in mind.

I mean, he takes you by the neck, and says, listen to me.

I have something important to tell you.

But at the end I came out of it feeling that his music is about freedom.

And then the last performances we did, I worked a lot with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, wonderful group, in this project.

And the last year in the performance I felt the sense of spontaneity and freedom which I have really felt with this.

[dramatic orchestral music] - And often with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, aren't you conducting from the piano?

I hesitate to call it conducting, but I'm leading.

I'm not the conductor, but yes, somebody has to conduct and lead if you don't have a conductor.

- And what is that experience like for you?

- It's challenging, but I do love it.

I'm then, not having a lid on the piano and I'm sitting inside the orchestra with a back to the audience but with such great contact with the musicians.

- I'm wondering if the experience of conducting from the piano has changed the way you work with a conductor when you're a soloist.

- I have maybe become more conscious of the whole storytelling.

Now, when you're a soloist with a conductor there, it can be a bit sort of, [lively orchestral music] now it's my time, and now it's your turn.

And the wonderful thing is when I'm leading the orchestra, I'm in the narrative, I'm in the storytelling all the time.

And that's wonderful when you play a piece by Mozart or Beethoven, right?

There's so much conversation, so much dialogue between the orchestra and me, - Back in 2006, I had the honor of hosting the opening night at Carnegie hall.

And I believe you were in the middle of a project to record several Mozart concertos.

- That's right.

- Are you still as captivated by Mozart as you were back then?

- As a matter of fact, I'm just starting a Mozart project, a big one, together with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra who I did my Beethoven journey with, and it's called Mozart Momentum 1785, 86.

- Was there something special that happened in that short period of time?

- I think so.

He wrote 27 piano concertos and in 1785, he writes his number 20.

It's in D minor. [suspenseful orchestral music] It's the first one which is in minor key.

So it has a darker side to it.

Something very special happened just then he started separating the soloist from the orchestra and you know, the kind of heroic piano concertos which we love so much from the 19th century, the Grieg, the Tchaikovsky, you have the feeling that the soloist is being thrown out on the gladiator stage and, you know, has to show his or her strength, that sort of starts with Mozart.

There's this seed there.

I mean, Mozart is so much about the conversation with the orchestra, dialogue and reacting to each other, but there in 1785, it's like he thinks, oh, I can create a very interesting story with making the soloist an individual, different from the orchestra, which might be the society and he changed the genre of piano concerto by doing that.

- What has been the most rewarding part of this musical journey for you?

- It's ultimately about sharing.

When you're so passionate about something, when you love something so much and you're able to share it, sometimes in an intimate group, sometimes with a few other musicians, sometimes for 2,800 people in Carnegie Hall, I mean, that's the greatest gift.

I cannot live my life without that sharing music with other people.

[playful piano music] [audience claps] [upbeat marimba music] - For more information on cultural events in our area, please sign up for our free weekly email at nyc-arts.org/email.

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[upbeat marimba music] Next, we'll take a look at the work of David Hockney.

One of today's most well-known and prolific artists.

With a career spanning more than 50 years, he has continually explored new practices and subject matter.

He's also notable for his lifelong devotion to a single genre.

Now on view at the Morgan Library and Museum in Midtown Manhattan, 'David Hockney: Drawing From Life' is an extensive and personal look at the British artist's exploration of portraiture.

Featuring about 100 drawings of just five subjects, you can observe the trajectory of Hockney's life and art.

At 83 years old, he remains an inspired draftsman.

NYC Art's spoke with Colin Bailey, director of the Morgan Library and Museum about this exhibition.

[ambient music] - 'David Hockney: Drawing from Life' is a survey of this fantastic British artist.

And he is someone who simply is working on doing some drawing every day.

So how to compass, how to get your hands around such a huge outfit of work.

And so the great decision was made, take five sitters whom he has drawn in different modes for decades and focus on them.

This is a family album.

David's mother, Nora Hockney, who died aged 99 in 1999.

His great friend, Celia Birtwell, great fashion figure, a dress designer and who's still very active in London.

His great English friend, Morris Payne, who's a printmaker who worked with him on all of his early works and continues to do so.

His lover, his partner, his curator, now just a good friend, Gregory Evans, whom he met really in the seventies, and then finally David's most constant topic, most constant sitter, most constant subject, himself.

He's born in Bradford in the north of England.

He's from a working class family.

At 17 he's in art school, and he's very, very capable.

And we see the earliest drawings where in a sort of naturalistic mode, but also the great early drawing of him, the dandy with his glasses and this collage, which is newspaper, which is fantastic and a sense of in a way, knowing the modernist world from the north of England at 17.

He was a sponge.

He just imbibed everything.

And this will continue when he goes to London, when he makes his first trip to New York, when he lives in LA, when he goes to Paris, it's just growing all the time.

Most of David's portraits of his mother understandably are done indoors.

She was a homebody, but there is this wonderful Polaroid collage done at Bolton Abbey, which has her in a raincoat.

It's a wet day.

We see the ruins of the Gothic Abbey behind her.

We see tombstones.

And then if we look at the very bottom of the composition, which is quite a large composition for him, we see a pair of shoes and those are David's feet.

David is taking his mother's photograph from a certain distance, and it was at Bolton Abby that her husband had proposed to her.

There's such a lot of emotion in that.

These five are the people that he's drawn constantly over decades and as he says, by not having to struggle to find a likeness, to get to know the people so well, to have them knowing him so well, he can catch up all sorts of psychological, visual ideas that interest him.

It's almost what he doesn't include as much as what he does include that gives a sense of evanescence of character and of the moment and particularly, I think with Celia, there's an enormous intimacy that is sensual, erotic in a way, and highly respectful of her as a figure.

David Hockney from the very beginning has been open to new technologies.

Once iPads and computers are available to him, he is straight then.

He loves the fact that he can draw immediately on the screen and we have about 12 of these monitors showing different drawings as he's making them.

You meet David.

And that's when you see him in a way unvarnished, warts and all, in all different moments.

He has a dry northern wit and a sight irony.

He's always been a dandy.

These blue eyes and the red braces and he's bending over and he's actually doing watercolor because you can see the brush.

And it's both slightly professorial because he's looking over his glasses to you, it's a little vulnerable because he's capturing himself in a way at work.

For David, work, drawing is like breathing.

All exhibitions take a long time to organize.

And the idea was to show David's drawings in a museum that is so our museum, so well-known as the home of drawing.

And then of course the pandemic came.

What was completely unexpected was when people could begin to come back in small numbers to the Morgan, there was a sense that you were getting to meet a new group of people.

And that this moment has been an incredible solace.

I've heard this from many people who've come to see the show.

They just feel that there's a connection.

And of course, David makes a connection, particularly with these five sisters all the time, but in this particular climate, that connection is even more powerful.

[inspiring orchestral music] - [Paula] Next week on NYC Arts.

A visit tell MoMA PS1 in Long Island city for a look at the exhibition, 'Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.'

- One the most symbolic And literal use of portraiture is to offer imprisoned people another representation of themselves other than the mugshot or the prison ID card.

You see that really powerfully in the exhibition, with Mark Loughney's series Pyrrhic Defeat.

Mark Loughney is currently in prison.

Since 2014, he's engaged in this series that consists of 20 minutes sketches of other imprisoned people.

- [Announcer] A profile of a photographer, Gregory Crewdson, known for a cinematic large format, narrative images.

- I've often said that I divide my life between pre-production, production, and post-production.

So pre-production is mapping out the images, writing descriptions and then productions are usually about four or five weeks where we're all together making pictures almost every day.

- [Paula] And Vijay Iyer shares his joyful spirit of experimentation.

- Music is this force that creates community.

That's a power that we have as a species to do that.

[upbeat marimba music] - I hope you've enjoyed our program this evening.

I'm Paula Zahn.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Have a good night.

[upbeat marimba music] - [Male Announcer] Funding for NYC Arts is made possible by Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, The Louis 'Sonny' Turner Fund for Dance, Jody and John Arnhold, the Ambrose Monell Foundation, Rosalind P Walter, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Charles and Valerie Diker, The Nancy Sidewater Foundation, Elroy and Terry Krumholz Foundation, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, and Ellen and James S Marcus.

This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.

Additional funding provided by Members of Thirteen.

NYC Arts is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

- [Female Narrator] First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank, first refers to our first priority.

The clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree.

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

- [Male Announcer] And by Swann Auction Galleries.

- [Female Narrator] Swann Auction Galleries.

We have a different way of looking at auctions.

Offering vintage books and fine arts since 1941.

Working to combine knowledge with accessibility, whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer, or looking to sell, information@swanngalleries.com.