Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alexander Brailowsky - A Great Artist with a Kind Heart

I was a sophomore, probably age 15, when this event took place.
During a piano lesson at Eastman (I was in the Prep department at the time) with my teacher, Jerome Diamond (who became veritably a second father to me later on), Mr. Diamond asked me if I had tickets to the Brailowsky recital that week, to take place in the Eastman theater.
I informed Mr. Diamond that I had indeed bought my ticket, and was looking forward to hearing this great pianist, who along with his legendary contemporary, Artur Rubinstein, was thought of as a leading interpreter of Chopin.
Diamond then asked if I would like to meet this man. I was thrilled beyond words, and of course said "yes!"
Later that week, I met Mr. Diamond in a particular location backstage , and proceeded to a small room deep in the bowels of the Eastman theater. Along the way, Diamond informed me that he had known Brailowsky for several years, and were friends - that thrilled me even more.
We waited a short time in this small room. The door then opened, and before me was this man, this living legend. He , of course, was very familiar to me, as I had many of his albums with his face on the covers. I was surprised to see that he was a rather small, actually frail man, with a slight stoop - but that broad smile was there, and he embraced Mr. Diamond, then shook my hand.
I then noticed that he had a bunch of manuscripts under his arm, which he proceeded to lay out over a table. I almost fell over upon noticing that it was music I had written!
He pointed out various aspects on the sheets, none of which I can recall, as I was in shock at the moment. However, I regained enough control to hear him say (with that wonderful twinkle in his eye) that " you have a gift; however, you have trouble committing your ideas onto paper."
These were his exact words, which for a moment I could not understand.
It then dawned on me that the mere transfer of ideas without the attendant knowledge was a fallacy. He was telling me that I must undergo immediately a scholarly study of the language in order to summon reasons for the existence of the notes I produced.
So that short sentence altered my entire life. I soon thereafter began study of the language of music, which has been going on ever since.
Brailowsky, after a few more minutes, took leave with a warm handshake and the kindest wishes for the future. Diamond and I talked for a short time. I thanked him for his support and for his arranging this meeting with Brailowsky.
Diamond then divulged that, over a considerable period of time, he had been sending Brailowsky my compositions, many of which I had performed in the Honor recitals in the Prep department for the past two or so years. What a wonderful compliment my teacher had paid me - imagine!
His sending these little attempts at composition to this great musician, because he thought that they were of sufficient worth.
A day I shall not forget.

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