Anyone who has been fortunate enough to spend even a little time in Charles Rosen’s company will know that he is a formidable companion, who can weave several learned and profound streams of reflection in elegant patterns, strongly preferring to impart information rather than to receive it. Indeed, he soon makes you wonder whether you have any information which he is not familiar with. His apparent omniscience is both exhilarating and daunting. You wonder how it is possible for a person to know so much, as well as to be a virtuoso pianist and a brilliant writer of books on topics that extend considerably beyond music.
I mention what his company is like because reading him has something of the same effect: just as, if you happen to ask him what Mozart meant by ‘andante’, he will move to the piano and illustrate from memory by playing excerpts from sonatas, string quartets, quintets, concertos