He had already been giving classes at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and now he did so, both there and at the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood, as energetically as if his life depended on it, as it did. He also took up conducting, which—despite the oddity of standing in front of an orchestra—he greatly enjoyed. Both activities plunged him deeper into music, letting him see it through the eyes of other instrumentalists and, when he was teaching, pushing him to pin down the ephemeral beauty of notes with words alone. They went most of the way. Yet still he was not playing.
Stubbornly he went on practising a bit, though it was hopeless and probably did damage, and his attempt at a public two-handed comeback, in 1982, was a failure. Stubbornly, too, he resisted for a long time the left-hand piano repertoire. Though it was wide, most of it was bad. The whole notion seemed gimmicky, as well as an admission that, from now on, a left-handed pianist was all he could be. Old prejudices would keep surfacing.
The right hand was the singer, doing most of the important work and so wearing out faster. The left balanced it and did its share, but inevitably had second billing. The disaster that had befallen him slowly changed that view. He found left-hand masterpieces, notably Ravel’s “Concerto for the Left Hand” and a tranion by Brahms of the Bach D minor Chaconne for solo violin, which became firm favourites. Friends and colleagues wrote new pieces for him. And he discovered that his left hand, even by itself, gave him more to say at the piano.
Wage rates depend on levels of productivity.
The past few days had really worn him out.