In my upcoming novel, “The Assassin and the Pianist”, I delve into the world of a concert pianist. I attempt to show the commitment and dedication necessary to perform at a world-class level. It is a world of pursuit of perfection with attention to details and nuances in the music that “regular” people cannot see. The world of classical music is not just repeatedly playing the compositions of dead composers. It is alive with the subtleties of interpreting the music that was written, sometimes hundreds of years ago.

I discovered a new language, music composition, the notes written on a page. What the compose put on paper is the framework and skeleton of the piece, if you will, what was in his head. Sometimes it is more complete with many dynamic markings (indicating how the notes should sound) and sometimes with added side notes to the score.

But always there is room for interpretation by the musician and conductor making each piece differ in detail which are sometimes impossible for the layperson to hear. Each artist brings their interpretation to the music as well as their own set of musical skills. All these variables make the world of classical music surprisingly fresh and new with each performance.

Then there are the instruments. The most dynamic one is the human voice. It can shape the sound of notes to a degree not equaled by any other instrument. The strings (violin, viola, cello, bass) score high on dynamic capability.

The piano, which I feature in my novel, however, is different. It is essentially a percussive instrument. A note, once struck, hangs out there for all to hear without further shaping possible. It can be influenced by how it is struck and the pedals used, but then will remain as the artist created it. The voice can continue to shape a sound after it comes out as long as the vocalist holds it and the string player can continue to shape a note with vibrato, crescendo or decrescendo as long as the note is held. The piano presents unique challenges in this regard.

Two pieces of music are featured in the story, where I describe my pianist’s, Christina’s, performances. The first one is the Piano Concerto in G Major by Maurice Ravel, composed between 1929 and 1931. Ravel only wrote two piano concertos, this one and Concerto in D Major. The latter was written for the left hand only. It was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, a pianist who had lost his right arm in WW1. Needless to say, it is not played as much as the G Major concerto.

The G Major has three movements, Allegramente, Adagio assai, and Presto. The middle movement is the slow one and very beautiful. It plays a significant part in the novel. The whole piece shows the influence of jazz on the classical music of that time.

The second piece is Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, better known as the “Emperor Concerto”. It was written between 1809 and 1811, during Napoleon’s reign. Beethoven didn’t give the piece that name and probably didn’t approve of it, being that he was no fan of Napoleon.

There are also in three movements in the piece, Allegro, Adagio, and Rondo: Allegro. The piece was Beethoven’s last piano concerto and considered his finest. It was ahead of its time, bridging the era between the classical and the romantic periods. The middle movement, while totally different from the Ravel concerto, is also one of great beauty.

Both of these pieces figure prominently in the novel. They are entwined in the plot and the relationship between Dan and Christina. You can find these pieces on Youtube. I recommend you listen to them, either before or after reading the novel. I took my inspiration for the Ravel piece from Martha Argerich’s performance. Ms. Argerich has had a long career as an outstanding pianist. She is known for being able to bring much power and brilliance to pieces as well as a subtle, gentle touch. You can find the performance here:

The inspiration for the Emperor came from a performance by an upcoming artist, Alina Bercu. She is a Romanian musician and is the woman playing the piano on my cover. Mark her name, as you will be hearing more from this fine, young performer. You can find her performance here:


  1. Wow, stunning portal. Thnx …

      • David

      • 4 years ago

      You’re welcome! It was fun to write.

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