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Acting Like a Pianist, Volume 1: Rzewski’s ‘De Profundis’ and ‘Marriage’

Acting Like a Pianist is a multi-volume exploration of repertoire for theatrical pianist, recorded in both audio and BluRay video formats.

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Step 2! On to the video!

Posted on November 17, 2017 by Michael Kirkendoll

I am so excited to share this project with the world soon. I have completed the small bit of audio editing being done for the project and am overjoyed with the incredible recording quality and so grateful to Andreas Meyer for his amazing work. I will be working together with my brilliant videographer, Tina Tallon over the next week to hopefully complete the video editing and am really hoping to release the final product by January 1! Stay tuned!


Acting Like a Pianist, Volume 1 is the first of a planned multi-volume exploration of repertoire for theatrical pianist. Volume 1 will feature two monuments in the genre by Frederic Rzewski:  Marriage (2008, based on Leo Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata) and De Profundis (1992, based on Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis). This project will include, for the first time, high-definition blu-ray video recordings of these works, in addition to audio recordings, and will be released commercially on Meyer Media.  While these works do stand-up as audio-only performances, their true power and ability to provoke deep reactions is only reached in combination with an equally virtuosic theatrical performance. I believe that this repertoire, and these two works of Rzewski in particular, are important in the landscape of contemporary music and in music’s ability to provide commentary on a number of issues and ideas facing the world today.

Repertoire for theatrical pianist has grown since Rzewski’s seminal De Profundis entered the landscape in 1992. However, despite several excellent audio recordings available in the marketplace, to date, no commercial video recording has been done of this or any of the other great works in this style. This repertoire has been the cornerstone of my own research and performance for nearly 10 years. My doctoral dissertation was entitled Acting Like a Pianist and focused on De Profundis and the evolution of the genre throughout the 20th Century. The merging of the truly theatrical aspects of this music with the traditional pianism found in each work is the core focus of my study and performance.

Future volumes of the Acting Like a Pianist series will include existing works by Jerome Kitzke, Martin Bresnick, and Dave Reminick, new works in progress from Forrest Pierce, Stevan Tickmayer, Nicholas Omiccioli, Yangzhi Ma, and new commissions from young Composition Fellows of the Cortona Sessions for New Music.

Project Media

Frederic Rzewski: De Profundis

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Features: Michael Kirkendoll

Live performance of Frederic Rzewski’s “De Profundis” for theatrical pianist. “De Profundis” is based on the prison letters of Oscar Wilde, published under the same title. These letters recount Wilde’s imprisonment in Reading Gaol for ‘gross indecency’. The work is ultimately a tale of the human spirit’s ability to overcome even the darkest of situations with grace and hope, and has the ability to shine a light on all forms of discrimination still present in 21st Century society.

Frederic Rzewski: Marriage

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Features: Michael Kirkendoll

Live performance of “Marriage” by Frederic Rzewski. “Marriage” is Mile 53 of The Road, and is based on Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata”. The work tells the tale of a man recounting how he killed his wife in a vile rant against love, women, and the institution of marriage. It is a dark and powerful commentary about some of mankind’s worst traits – fear, rage, jealousy, and hate.

Start and End Dates



Lawrence, Kansas

1 update
Last update on November 17, 2017

Project Created By

Lawrence, Kansas
Called “the very model of a 21st Century musician” by critics of the Indianapolis Star, pianist Michael Kirkendoll has established himself at the forefront of contemporary pianism. A dedicated advocate for the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Michael has presented over one hundred new works in both solo and collaborative settings. His performances…

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Long Island City, New York
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