BIOGRAPHY
The singular, compelling artistry of pianist Thomas Labé has been embraced by audiences and critics alike the world over. His 1987 debut at New York's Carnegie Hall (as First Prize winner of the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition) was singled out by The New York Times as "the most interesting among the week's debutantes."

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RECORDINGS
Thomas Labé's growing list of commercially released recordings has garnered exceptional praise in the international press including a "Best of the Year" citation for his debut recording, The Virtuoso Johann Strauss (1992). Click on any of the links below for complete information.

The Virtuoso Johann Strauss (1992)

Transcendental Bach (1994)

Liszt: Works for Violin and Piano (1997)

Howard Hanson: Works for Piano (2000)

Dedication: Music of Robert Schumann (2008)

Visions of Bach (2000) - compilation

Nostalgie: Original German Cast Recording (1992)
VIDEOS
Click here for complete information and links to videos by Thomas Labé ranging from perennial favorites like Claude Debussy's "Clair de lune" to a world-premiere recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's monumental Organ Prelude and Fugue in B Minor in a dazzling piano arrangement.

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THE LATEST
Periodic updates on upcoming performances, recordings,and a list of what's currently on the music stand.

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PUBLICATIONS
As a scholar of the piano repertoire, Thomas Labé has examined manuscripts and other source materials for composers ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to Lionel Barrymore. His first publication as editor-in-chief, a landmark new edition of Robert Schumann's beloved Piano Concerto in A Minor ...

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RESEARCH
A periodically updated list of current research projects.

RESEARCH
READING LIST
Find out what's on the Maestro's most recent recommended reading list, and what's currently on the nightstand.

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SCHOLAR LINKS
A list of reliable and worthwhile links to libraries, archives, composer resources and more.

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  • WHAT'S ON THE NIGHTSTAND TODAY
  • RECOMMENDED READS
  • SUMMER READING
  • SPECIAL INTEREST & NOVELTY
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quannah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
S.C. Gwynne
(New York: Scribner, 2010)

"We will never know how Cynthia Ann Parker felt in the weeks and months after her capture by Sul Ross. There are so few comparable events in American history. But it was painfully apparent from the earliest days that the real tragedy in her life was not her first captivity but her second. White men never quite grasped this ... In the moments before Ross's raid, she had been quite as primitive as any other plains Indian; packing thousands of pounds of buffalo meat onto mules, covered from head to toe in blood and grease, literally immersed in this elemental world that never quite left the Stone Age—a world of ceaseless toil, hunger, constant war, and early death. But also of pure magic, of beaver ceremonies and eagle dances, of spirits that inhabited springs, trees, rocks, turtles, and crows; a place where people danced all night and sang bear medicine songs, where wolf medicine made a person invulnerable to bullets, dream visions dictated tribal politic, and ghosts were alive in the wind." Having lived in the southwest United States for so many years, and having now read this book, I find it hard to believe how little I previously knew of what went on around here.
 
The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
(New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971)

I picked up this collection of short stories somewhat mistakenly thinking they would make for great summer reading (I had some idea what I would be in for). These are dark tales set in the old American south. Not only does every sentence exude atmosphere, but every story packs a punch. And while some of the stories may seem over the top, in the words of poet Elizabeth Bishop (written at the time of O'Connor's death: "Critics who accuse her of exaggeration are quite wrong, I think. I lived in Florida for several years next to a flourishing 'Church of God' (both white and black congregation), where every Wednesday night Sister Mary and her husband 'spoke in tongues.' After those Wednesday nights, nothing Flannery O'Connor ever wrote could seem at all exaggerated to me."
The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death.
Gene Weingarten
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998)

I've been reading this book through the holidays. Be forewarned, this is a laugh out loud book - although the humor is droll (the foreword is written by Dave Barry), Weingarten can drop in a sentence so unexpectedly potent that you won't be able to control yourself. Do not read this on buses, airplanes, or in other public settings where you are certain to annoy people. Without spoiling the ending (and specifically the last chapter - "Is Death a Laughing Matter? Of Corpse Not.") once reading his near death experience in a freak car accident (detailed at the beginning of this chapter), the paragraphs that ensue are beyond hilarity. The book is rounded out with a thorough index: Is something ailing you? Look it up and you can flip to the appropriate page to find what the worst possible scenario might be (something apparently, that every good hypochondriac wants to know). Nonetheless, I don't mean to give the impression that this book will provide some good laughs at the expense of hypochondriacs far and wide. In fact, it provides more the occasion to seriously look at ourselves and the human condition in general.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver, Camille Kingsolver and Steven L. Hopp
(New York: Harper Collins, 2007)

"April is the cruelest month," T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, all passion is really a setup, and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. I'm a soul on ice flung out on a rock in the sun, where the needles that pierced me begin to melt all as one." The words of author Barbara Kingsolver in this fascinating tale of a family who made the transition from distantly grown and processed store bought food in the arid climate of Arizona, to living off the land, in rhythm with nature's seasons, on a farm in southern Appalachia. Kingsolver's brilliant writing is engaging, full of keen observations, peppered with recipes, and it is hard to put the book down (how many books have a chapter on asparagus that is surprisingly poignant?). And while this book may well precipitate a change in your lifestyle (with regard to how you think of the food you eat and where it came from) its greatest strength lies in its ability to change your life (and I really can't say that about many books) through an appreciation of nature and all the other remarkable things that surround us that we are prone (or just as likely encultured) to miss out on.
No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey
Scott Huler
(New York: Crown, 2008)

For me there is no journey greater than one which is both outward and inward and that is precisely what Scott Huler has in mind when he sets out in this book (on the heels of reading James Joyce's Ulysses) to retrace, insofar as might be possible, Homer's travels through the Mediterranean. Part travelogue, part history lesson, part memoir, what emerges is, by and large, a supremely engaging travelogue (and therein lies the enjoyment of this book). And while it doesn't really shed any new light on Homer's well worn tale, it is chock full of marvelous insights into it (and the region in which in takes place).
Good Dog. Stay.
Anna Quindlen
(New York: Random House, 2007)

This small book (an essay really) which charts the life (and death) of the author's beloved labrador retriever Beau is the setting for some philosophical musings on what is really important in life. It won't be on the night stand for long as it takes about half an hour to read.


The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd
Joe Camp
(New York: Harmony Books, 2008)

"Often, in the early evening, when the stresses of the day are weighing heavy, I pack it in and head out to the pasture. I'll sit on my favorite rock, or just stand, with my shoulders slumped, head down, and wait. It's never long before I feel the magical tickle of whiskers against my neck, the elixir of warm breath across my ear, a restoring rub against my cheek. I have spoken their language and they have responded. And my problems have vanished. This book is for everyone who has never experienced this miracle." So reads the foreword to this beautiful book whose premise is that horses, having survived over 50 million years on planet earth (through ice ages, dinosaurs and a lot more) have a lot to teach us if we will actually listen and develop a relationship. You don't have to know horses or even like them to appreciate this book.

After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance
Kenneth Hamilton
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Kenneth Hamilton has put together a fascinating piece of scholarship, documenting what many of us already knew - that piano performances were a lot more fun in the nineteenth and early twentieth century than the stultifying, painfully serious events of the more recent past (that he likens to the ritual of a catholic church mass). In former times, pianists frequently conversed and interacted with their audiences (and likewise, were prone to be criticized for playing so loudly that "the ladies couldn't talk"). Though pianists occasionally followed Liszt's lead and played from memory, even those playing from the score took a very liberal view toward the printed page. Hamilton has done an enviable amount of research into the history of piano performance and the result is a well documented book that, unfortunately, makes for a rather dry read. It's almost too scholarly for such an engaging topic. What's more, there's a curious undertone of bitterness coursing through the text that makes one wonder if Hamilton wished he himself were living in a different time (to be sure, much of the piano world assumed a highbrow tone in the later twentieth century, but things are certainly looking up today with a bevy of interesting and adventurous pianists now taking the world stage, reviving the vast forbidden corners of the piano repertoire, conceiving their own "concert arrangements" and more (like Marc Andé Hamelin, Stephen Hough, Lang Lang and others). It's as though he wrote the book twenty years ago and it is just coming out in print (very possible—in the words of Goethe: "There is a special place in hell for publishers"). In any case, there is a wealth of absolutely fascinating information at hand here (who knew the reason for the tuttis in Chopin's piano concerti was simply to allow time for audience applause?), and it's certainly worth reading for that alone.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Bill Buford
(New York: Knopf, 2006)

Of all the books I've read about cooking (including many "insider" books written about the restaurant trade) this is far and away the finest book about the art of food and cooking I've ever come across. It traverses so many aspects of cooking (while traversing several continents as well) and is written in such a passionate and engaging style, it is as informative (there are revelations about the proper way to prepare and cook many dishes here) as, at times, hilarious. (I happened to be staying in Tuscany when I was reading this book and absolutely had to make the trip to the Sunday morning market in Panzano to meet the Dante quoting butcher Dario Cecchini.)
Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes
Eamon Duffy
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006)

This book follows the Papacy from its very roots right up until the present time. Far from a mere history of that institution, it reads more like a history of the Western World. Recognizing the enormous and settling influence the Papacy exerted on Western Civilization, Eamon Duffy paints a balanced picture of the myriad problems and challenges (including the near total collapse of the church at the dawn of the fifteenth century) that arose at the same time!

Some books are just meant to be read in the summer.
Here are a some of my favorites.


Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley
Peter Guralnick
(New York: Back Bay Books, 1995)

"Pastor, I am the most miserable young man you have ever seen. I have got more money than I can ever spend. I have thousands of fans out there, and I have a lot of people who call themselves my friends, but I am miserable" - Elvis Presley speaking to a pastor in 1957. Hold on to your hats while you traverse this impeccably researched, absolutely impartial and eminently enjoyable biography of "The King." In this first volume Guralnick gently gides his readers through the tidal wave that was Elvis' meteoric rise to fame in popular music. Drawing on first hand accounts, we meet all the familiar characters, yet coursing through it is the undertone that such tenuously constructed fame may not last (chronicled in volume 2) and Guralnick deftly portrays the differences between Elvis Presley the real person and Elvis the icon.

Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley
Peter Guralnick
(New York: Back Bay Books, 2000)

In the foreword to this second volume of Guralnick's biography of Elvis Presley, he warns the reader to expect nothing less than a tragedy. After the euphoria of the unprecented leap to stardom, we learn of the career miscalculations, the sad string of B movies, the bizarre obsessions (not to mention all the other well worn stuff). It traverses Elvis' life and career from his time spent in the army through his Vegas period and his early death (in a hail storm of prescription drugs provided by his own personal physician Dr. Nick).

Flowers in the Attic
Virginia Andrews
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979)

While this gothic novel will never be mistaken for great literature, it is a lot of fun. It is hard to describe without giving too many of its secrets away, although much of what transpires is predictable (and sometimes even the chapter title gives away what is to come) there are still some unexpected twists and turns, not to mention the ending. Even if you accept it as good, campy fun, there are a few chapters after which you may want to take a shower.


a la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers
Hillary Carlip
(New York: Virgin Books, 2008)

If you've ever looked over a fellow shopper's grocery cart to get an impression of who they are, then this hilarious book is for you. Taking real discarded lists (reproduced in the book) left behind by shoppers at the grocery store. Hillary Carlip works like an almost maniacal detective, sifting through the items juxtaposed on each list (which include everything imaginable from everyday staples to things as far afield as a portable urinal) to assemble a "profile" for the sort of person she envisioned as compiling each list (something put to the test recently on NPR's Day to Day). Items found on one list: "mousetraps, cheese, mouse."

Too Old for MySpace Too Young for Medicare
Alan Corcoran and Joey Green
(Riverside, NJ: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008)

According to the preface to this humorous book, every two seconds a baby-boomer hits middle age. And when that happens, you definitely should have this guide on hand!

Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America
Bill Geist
(New York: Broadway, 2007)

Bill Geist, the popular CBS correspondent, dishes up an assortment of offbeat locales across the country (mostly from the "fly over") that are sure to bring a laugh. If you don't take it too seriously, it's pure enjoyment from beginning to end.
The Interrogative Mood
Padgett Powell
(New York: Ecco, 2009)

"Why won't the aliens step forward to help us?" Get ready to ponder this and thousands of other questions if you venture into this novel? Could you read a book in which every sentence is a question? Would you want to read such a book? If so, why or why not? More from Padgett: "Do you trust even yourself? Isn't it—forgive me this pop locution—hard being you? If you could trade out and be, say, Godzilla, wouldn't you jump on it, dear? Couldn't you then forgo your bad haircuts and dour wardrobe and moping ways and being to have some fun, as Godzilla?"
Maniford Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine
Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008)

Are you ready for this? A cook book that gives the cooking time in mileage? I can't say I have tried any of the recipes, but the book is a hilarious read. Most all the recipes rely on packing ingredients in aluminum foil, finding a hot spot on the engine and hitting the open road.
Tartine Bread
Chad Robertson and Eric Wolfinger
(San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010)

If there can be such a thing as a sexy book about making bread, this is about as close as you can get. This is not a book for beginners looking to learn the art of making bread: it presupposes an already intimate knowledge of bread making. Nor is it full of recipes for a wide variety of breads, focusing instead on perfecting a few basic breads. The remainder of the book is given over to some very interesting recipes for foods that accompany great breads.
RECIPES
Cooking is my favorite form of relaxation and has a lot in common with giving a musical performance - both involve preparation and presentation. Click on the links below to view the ever-expanding body of animated recipes.

RECIPES BY COURSE

RECIPES BY CUISINE

MOST RECENT
VIDEOS
From artisan pizza to a Chinese feast, the cooking videos are coming soon!

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KITCHEN GALLERY
Enter the gallery for photographs and information on some of my favorite kitchen gear. I'm not one for gadgets and gimmicks but this collection I find indispensable. Coming soon, cooking videos!

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FAVORITE COOKBOOKS
FOOD LINKS
A periodically updated collection of some of my favorite online haunts, from sources for professional ingredients to exotic, special interest or novelty food items.

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HORSE LIFE
Horses came roaring into my life about eight years ago and they're here to stay! Whether charging over a course of fences, hacking around in the open pasture at sunset, or even grabbing a sandwich, a bag of carrots, and having "lunch" with the herd ...

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GALLERY
Enter the gallery for pictures not only of my horse, but two dogs and a cow as well!

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VIDEOS
Videos of my horse in action.

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HORSE LINKS
Here are links to some of my favorite horse sites, for tack, apparel and more.

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