Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great Minds of Another Time - How Fortunate I Am!

When I recall, in my formative years, the power of spectacular luck, simply by being with a teacher who passed on to me countless aspects of musical and pianistic thinking from two giants born in the 19th century; well, I consider myself anointed with good fortune.
This teacher, with whom I studied for several years, was himself a student of one of the last teaching icons who straddled two centuries; namely Isidor Phillip. Phillip was a giant, especially in his vaunted development and implementation of particularized finger strength, which my teacher passed along to me. Eminent pianists sought out Phillip in order to add to their ways of dealing with the piano.
My teacher also studied with the legendary pianist Josef Lhevinne. Even the great Vladimir Horowitz, in his earlier career, was an open admirer of Lhevinne, who one may argue was the equal, and something more at times, of any of the great post-Lisztian giants of the keyboard. There are recordings of this titan, and one will quickly recognize the nature of Lhevinne's genius. I have a Vorsetzer recording of Czerny's Octave study, which Lhevinne absolutely overwhelms. I have always, in my mind, challenged any of the great pianists of the past century to perform this challenging etude with more elan and ease than does Lhevinne, which he recorded in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Luckily for me, my teacher imparted countless ways of Lhevinne's thought processes endemic to the playing of the piano, which parted many curtains for me.
All in all, I consider myself most fortunate in having become a spoke, however small, in the Wheel of History.

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