© 2024 KRWG
News that Matters.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Chess and music: A two-part interview with national chess master Lior Lapid

They say chess is the game of kings, but one can argue that it is also the game of musicians. From 18th century France through composers like Sergei Prokofiev (who kept a chess board on his piano), to jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie (they played each other), to hip-hop artist Rakaa Taylor, musicians from across the centuries, across the continents, and across every musical genre have played chess – for pleasure and sometimes professionally.

Lior Lapid playing chess.
Lior Lapid playing chess.

In this two-part interview, National Master and chess educator Lior Lapid and Intermezzo Leora Zeitlin explore some of the numerous connections between chess and music. “You tend to find child prodigies in only three fields,” Lapid said in the first interview, “and those are chess, math, and music. And maybe not coincidentally, very often children – and adults – who excel in any one of those fields are also at least proficient in the other two.”

Lapid founded the PALS Chess Academy in Denver and is now living in Miami. He grew up in Las Cruces, is a graduate of New Mexico State University, and also happens to be the nephew of Leora Zeitlin.

In Part I (aired on October 5), Lapid and Zeitlin focus on two people for whom both chess and music were central passions: Francois-André Danican Philidor, an early 18th-century composer who was the celebrated composer of more than 20 comic operas as well as the greatest chess player of his time; and Paul Morphy, the foremost chess player of his time and someone who could memorize a piece of music after hearing it only once. They also discuss some of the terminology that both disciplines use, such as tempo, harmony and dissonance.

Lior Lapid in a Zoom call with Leora Zeitlin
Lior Lapid
Lior Lapid in a Zoom call with Leora Zeitlin

Part II will air on October 12, and will be posted on the internet after that.

Musical excerpts used in Part I:
• “Air des Hautbois,” by F.A.D. Philidor, New York Kamermusiker (Dorian 90189);
• “Allegro” by Joseph Aloys Schmittbauer, performed by Dennis James on glass harmonica (Sony 89047);
• Overture to the “Barber of Seville” by Gioacchino Rossini, performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon 415363);
• “Berceuse,” by Frederic Chopin, performed by Orli Shaham (Canary Classics 15).

The passage read from the “First and Last Days of Paul Morphy” manuscript, by Leona Queyrouze, is used by permission from the Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection (accession 83-23-L).