Nagano’s daughter: I hated practising the piano

Nagano’s daughter: I hated practising the piano


norman lebrecht

January 17, 2021

The pianist Karin Kei Nagano, 22, is bringing out her third recording on the Canadian label Analekta.

Daughter of the conductor Kent Nagano and the pianist Mari Kodama, she was put to the piano at age three and made her debut in a Mozart concerto when she was just eight years old.

She doesn’t sound too happy about that: ‘Until I was eleven or twelve, I actually hated practicing, I thought it was terrible… But a short time later, maybe I was 14, I realized that only persistence and perseverance really lead to a high level. She adds: ‘I had a pretty strict daily schedule and my parents attached great importance to a basic cultural education.’

Karin has just graduated from Yale in architecture and is settling into her first job with a design firm.



  • PHF says:

    Playing since 8 and earning her life outside music, very clever. Most of us will have to take a similar path very soon, willingly or not.

  • fflambeau says:

    A 1%er.

    Would she have gotten any album without her last name?

  • fflambeau says:

    An erroneous and unattributed article at Wikipedia says she won the Arthur Rubinstein Piano competition (there is no footnote for this). But she is not among the winners from its official website: International

    • RW2013 says:

      Winner of the First Prize at the Paris International Scriabin Competition at the age of 9 is also quite an unfootnoted achievement.

    • Andrew says:

      fflambeau The article in question says that she won first prize at the Rubinstein International Piano Competition in 2009-2010. No mention of Arthur. Of course this is terribly misleading, but she would have been all of eleven years old at the time, and I think that we would have heard more about it if it was indeed the Arthur Rubinstein competition. I did happen to see that there is an Anton Rubinstein Competition in Düsseldorf for musicians 8-15 years old. More likely it was that one.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    The juxtaposition of Schubert and Messiaen on her album is curious and potentially illuminating.

  • Rogerio says:

    You don’t have to be a certain color to be privileged.

  • May says:

    Sometimes I wish this blog had a filter function for readers who prefer to not be bothered by posts which include the terms “Nagano,” “Parra,” or “Axelrod.”

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is not necessary to have a famous parent forcing you to practice the piano against your inclination. I also hated practicing the piano, all by myself.

  • yujafan says:

    She is her father’s daughter, and this is her third recording. It wouldn’t be hard for her to be a better musician than he is. Yes, she is smart enough to have another career, much to her credit, and she’s better looking than him too. Interesting juxtaposition of repertoire on this disc.

  • sam says:

    “Reincarnation” is the title, a good start would be to reincarnate with a different last name.

  • JussiB says:

    Just my observation, but I find Asian parents put a greater importance on their children’s education and cultural upbringing than black or Hispanic parents. My Mexican gardener, for example, tells his son to go do gigs with him instead of going to college.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Asians are, in general, more civilised because they are more traditional. They don’t get the feeling that if something is old, it has to be thrown away for that very reason. Precious things are preserved, and learned from. This hangs together with the suspicion that Asians are a bit more intelligent than Westerners.

      • Fan says:

        Mr. Borstlap, you can do better than responding to the idiotic comment by JussiB who may or may not have a Mexican gardener but who definitely has a lot of BS.

        • JussiB says:

          I have in fact several investment properties and employ a Mexican gardener and a Peruvian handyman.

          • John Borstlap says:

            The Peruvians are the best.

          • John Borstlap says:

            We have here a bunch of Syrian fugitives doing the gardens & wow how good they are! and happy people as well, on fridays after prayer they make a big party to which all staff is invited. Life has become so much better now. Never hire locals, go for the foreigners!


    • fflambeau says:

      My notion is that Asian families put more emphasis on “success” especially economic “success” meaning money.

  • fflambeau says:

    And good old Norman is protesting against rigged piano juries. Here is someone who is rigging the whole notion of piano competitions and who won them.

  • JussiB says:

    She should become an architect and give up piano as a career. The Nagano name would be a handicap.

    • John Borstlap says:

      His other daughter Nancy, found a practical solution: turning her family name around to Onagan, and became a famous librarian.