School of Music

World Class Pianist Laura Kargul to Give Performance of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms at USM School of Music

October 4, 2013

Contact: Erin Bartoletti, (207) 780-5256 

GORHAM, Maine – After several years of focusing nearly exclusively on works from the Romantic era, pianist Laura Kargul will make a triumphant return this month to music of other periods in a concert of “The Beautiful Bs: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms” at the University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Music.

Kargul, USM professor of music and director of keyboard studies, will present two preludes and fugues from Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier”; Beethoven's “Waldstein Sonata”; and Brahms' “Variations on a Theme by Handel” in a piano concert.

The concert will be: 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18, in Corthell Concert Hall, USM Gorham campus.

“I haven’t played Bach in public in many years,” Kargul explained. “I’ve always adored Bach and it is with great joy that I return to his work. By the same token I haven’t played much Beethoven or Brahms in the recent past. I may be known more as a Liszt player, but I do have eclectic tastes, and Beethoven and Brahms are very close to my heart.”

“The ‘Three Bs’ are the classic combination,” said Dahlia Lynn, USM associate provost for undergraduate education, who, along with her husband Arthur L. Handman, has sponsored each of Kargul’s USM concerts for the last three years.

“It’s an honor to sponsor such exceptional talent,” Lynn said. “One of the reasons that makes USM so special is to have such extraordinarily gifted faculty, such as Laura Kargul, who is so passionate about being here and about teaching our students.”

Even when Kargul is not actively teaching students, she is eager to share her musical knowledge. While most concert pianists do not typically address the audience from the stage, Kargul is known to provide enlightening and informative comments during her concerts.

“She will find a teaching moment, and she wants to share her interpretation of the composer and of the music,” Lynn said. “There’s the outstanding performance, and then there’s the remarkable learning that occurs.” 

Kargul has selected works from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms that she finds particularly compelling.

“All are solidly considered to be masterpieces, and all are indeed beautiful,” she said.

The “Well-Tempered Clavier,” Book I is one of Bach’s seminal works. Kargul will perform two preludes and fugues: No. 22 in B-Flat Minor and No. 13 in F-Sharp Major. 

“My concept of Bach is not particularly oriented to the harpsichord,” Kargul said. “But it’s not necessarily a 19th-century, romanticized, view either.  

“A lot of important Bach scholarship has taken place in the last 40 years, and that can really inform how pianists can play Bach today,” she said. “I consider the other works that Bach wrote for non-keyboard instruments -- strings, winds, voice -- and I use that as my model for sound and articulation.”

 Kargul also will play Beethoven’s “Waldstein Sonata,” one of the composer’s most technically challenging piano sonatas.

“It’s a revolutionary piece,” Kargul said. “In it, Beethoven made it a point to utilize fully the resources of the evolving piano. He broke new ground, both technically, and by exploring novel, orchestral sounds at the keyboard.”

Rounding out the concert, Kargul will perform Bach’s “Variations on a Theme by Handel,” a neo-Baroque work consisting of 25 variations and a concluding fugue. Known as one of the greatest sets of variations ever written, the piece offers a broad sampling from Brahms’ vast array of compositional techniques.

“It’s not only a staggering work of art, but also one of the great show pieces of the 19th century,” Kargul said. “Brahms too was exploring new technical territory. He made truly pyrotechnical demands on the performer. From the standpoint of fireworks and dazzle -- that’s all there.”

Kargul has been concertizing as a solo pianist since the age of 13, when she made her concerto debut with an orchestra in Detroit. She holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Michigan and has appeared as a soloist throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and the West Indies. Kargul has recorded for radio in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Jamaica, as well as for PBS radio and national television in the U.S.

Particularly known as a Liszt-interpreter, Kargul is one of few pianists ever invited to give a full recital on Liszt’s own Bechstein piano at the Liszthaus in Weimar, Germany.

Kargul has been a member of the USM School of Music faculty since 1989. As a devoted teacher, she presents lectures and master classes at national and international venues.

 Details of the concert:

Tickets: $15, general public; $10, seniors, USM employees and alumni; $5, students.

Make reservations online at or call the USM Music Box Office at (207) 780-5555. For special accommodations call (207) 780-5142, TTY (207) 780-5646.

The concert is sponsored by Dr. Dahlia Lynn and Arthur L. Handman.

Kargul will present the same program at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Dunaway Center in Ogunquit, Maine.

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