A Conversation with Mood Poem’s Pianist Bruce Leto, Jr.

Meet Bruce Leto, Jr., a pianist and entrepreneur who runs a full-time web design and marketing agency. Graduated from Haverford College and New York University with a music degree and a master’s in Performing Arts Administration, respectively; Bruce is also a graduate of Villanova University with an MBA program. Even though he runs a full-time web design and marketing agency, his passion for being a musician and playing music never stops. He recently released an album, Mood Poems. I particularly enjoy the selections of repertoires in this album, which introduces some less-performed works by Curt Cacioppo as well as works by Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc, and Jean Sibelius.

Pianist Bruce Leto

Bruce Leto

How do you come up with the title of this album and the repertoire?

I created the title by myself because some of these are shorter piano works, like little poems. These pieces are lyrical and poetic, and they draw on different cultures and elements. For example, the first piece is jazz and blues, and the last piece is a tango, believe it or not.

I like the first track of the piece, Drehleier Blues.

That piece is a jazz influence on Schubert’s The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Winterreise, D. 911: No. 24, Der Leiermann), so there is some Schubert influence from his song cycle.

So, do you have a personal relationship with Curt Cacioppo?

Yes, he was my mentor for years. He was in Philadelphia for a number of years and was the department chair at Haverford College. He brought out my musicality and voice as a pianist from an orchestration standpoint. He also taught me to accent and bring out dissonances and different pieces of music. He is now based in Cape Cod. He is known as the last romantic composer, meaning he is a contemporary composer, but he has some elements of romanticism in his works. I love impressionistic music, and his music has particularly inspired me. I have made a little niche for myself performing his works, as they are not performed too often. They are contemporary in nature so there are some elements of tonality as well as dissonance. I love performing these pieces.

When you released this album, did you ask him for advice?

Mood Poems, Bruce Leto Jr. album cover

Absolutely. I did ask for his opinion on some of the works. His pieces derive different elements of the human condition, human nature, and evolution. Some are multicultural, and some are religious. I asked him for advice on timing and interpretations.

How long does it take for you to record this project?

It is the culmination of several years of recording. I had some recordings that I had performed Curt’s from years ago, but most of this was in 2023 and early 2024. So, I would say it was about two years in the making. I took some pieces we are on a self-titled CD that I released this summer and remastered them. They are all impressionistic music, and I like it. The music always reminds me of the ocean and nature and different moods and natural moods, so to speak.

If you can only pick two, what are your two favorite pieces in this album?

I like Ravel’s Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales, M. 61: III. Modéré. I would say that is my favorite piece from this album. It is a very light but lively impressionistic piece that reflects the nice weather we have here now. I also like the Drehleier Blues. I have been playing that piece since 2013, and it has never appeared in many different releases. It is very jazzy, and it has interesting moments.

Do you find some connections between the MBA study and music?

That’s a great question. The marketing and promotional aspects of the MBA have helped me with my albums and as a musical entrepreneur. You learn different ways to self-promote and market your music online from the MBA program, so there’s an entrepreneurial aspect.

How do you balance your work with the music?

When I’m particularly inspired by something, I’ll make time specifically to practice. I do a decent amount of recording in the studio, and I try to come out with a commercial album once every couple of years. I have two with Parma or Navona Records and one with Albany Records. I try to have benchmarks to motivate me, like performing at Carnegie Hall and joining competitions. I have done many virtual and video recording competitions, and I’ve also started doing some live-related competitions, both at professional and amateur levels.

Do you already have some ideas for your next album?

I’m thinking about making an album in the opposite direction. There may be some difficult Chopin ballads, but it will be more of the standard repertory. It’s a balance because I like to create a name for myself in music that is not always performed, but by the same token, I want to ensure that it reaches the right audience and touches the right people. It sounds like you were the right fit.

Indeed, I am the right audience for this album, and I am sure many of us do.

If you are interested in this album, please visit https://www.brucespianoworks.com and https://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6626/.

For more of the best in classical music, sign up for our E-Newsletter

More this Category

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.