Monday, March 11, 2019

Grand Teachers

In college, a fellow student referred to him as "grandteacher."

Leon Fleischer was coming for a masterclass, and my teacher had been a student of his. Later I took some lessons directly with "grandteacher." It turns out that my teacher (Thomas Hecht) had a very similar teaching style. No wonder he'd been Fleischer's assistant.

Leon Fleischer, at the ripe old age of six, had begun lessons with Arthur Schnabel, the great Beethoven interpreter. Schnabel didn't normally teach children but he made an exception for little Leon.

Schnabel studied with a man named Leschetizky. I had to look that up to make sure I spelled it correctly.

Now, that would make Schnabel my great-grandteacher, and Leschetizky my Great-great grandteacher. He was born in 1830 and settled in Vienna where he taught many eventually famous students. But it is his teacher we are concerned with.

His name was Carl Czerny. The same fellow who wrote all those fun exercises pianists hate to play. He wrote so many that he would work on several at once, writing part of one while he waited for the ink to dry on another so he could proceed to the next measure.

His teacher was Ludwig van Beethoven.

That makes me (and many other pianists as well) a seventh generation pedagogical descendant of Beethoven. And that would also make Beethoven my--let's see here: Great great great great grandteacher.

I don't know that that has anything to do with the price of Sonatas in Singapore, but it is at least an interesting connection. On Thursday I begin a series of lectures about a man I never knew personally, but who gave the world a great deal musically. I've been playing some of it for most of my life. His influence as a composer has been huge. It's never quite as easy to quantify one's influence as a teacher. But his student's student's student's student's student's student is glad of it anyhow, and will do his best to keep that art alive.

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