Mark was born in 1956 and started piano lessons at age six at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music in Pennsylvania, where he continued until age 18, first under the tutelage of Mme. Baroni, and later under Taylor Redden. He applied to, but was not accepted to Oberlin Conservatory and Northwestern University, and went to college at Tulane University. It was his intention his freshman year to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in piano performance and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. However, in talking with some of the upperclassman music majors, he discovered two alarming facts: (1) the music majors had come to be so critical about performances that they could only hear the mistakes after a while, and no longer could enjoy music, and (2) there is an inherent trade-off between being a musician and earning enough to be able to eat. Accordingly, Mark dropped the piano major and instead did a triple major in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. He eventually went on to get a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University, and has worked in the semiconductor industry since 1995. He has been living in Austin with his wife and children since 1996.
It is actually a good thing that Mark decided not to pursue music as a career, because, frankly, he was not very good at it when he was in college. Although he had been practicing 6 to 8 hours per day in high school, nevertheless he had poor technique that led to his having a very heavy, wooden touch.
When Mark was in his 30s, his grandfather passed away, and left him enough inheritance money to buy a new Baldwin baby grand piano. At that point, he decided to take some lessons, and engaged the services of Robbert de Vries in the Boston area. During his first 90-minute lesson, his teacher talked about Mark's posture, his shoulders, his elbows, his wrists, and his thumbs. Fingers were not even mentioned during that first lesson. Essentially, Robbert took a bulldozer to Mark's technique and started from the ground up, teaching him how to keep the tension out of his hands and to play with minimal effort. As a result, Mark was able to develop the light touch that had eluded him up until then.
Although Mark only took lessons from Robbert for a couple of years, he has continued playing the piano for fun. Over the last decade or so, Mark has learned all the Mozart sonatas, most of the Beethoven sonatas, most of the Chopin repertoire, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Glinka, Franck, Fauré, and most recently Field. He also has season tickets to the Austin Symphony, and has a hobby that whenever the orchestra plays a piano concerto, he learns the piano part prior to the concert. The concertos so far are the Grieg, Liszt #2, Beethoven #2, Rachmaninoff #2, Tchaikovsky #1, Brahms #1, Prokofiev #4, Schumann, and now Mozart #25.