It was often, after our rehearsals, that Alan Hovhaness, Larry Sobol, and I would walk the late-night, less-than-prim streets of New York. Larry and I would listen with reverence as Alan told of the wisdom of Francis Bacon, or would humourously remark about an overly-liquified gentleman whose sprawled corpus was blocking the path, "looks like Gottschalk."
One late night, the topic suddenly changed from our usual menu. Alan pointed to the sky which bravely emerged through the neon haze. "You should study astronomy." I wasn't ready for this particular tutorial and replied with a simple "What do you mean?"
The answer was quite to the point. "If you want to be a great musician, a great artist, you must first study astronomy to understand the vastness of all creation. You will realise your own insignificance and then will achieve true humility."
It was the best piano lesson I had ever gotten.