Wednesday, July 08, 2009


In Alex Ross's New Yorker piece on the Marlboro summer music festival (link for subscribers only), Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax reminisce about the teaching styles of their 1970s Marlboro mentors:
Each senior figure had a distinctive approach. Moyse, the master of the French school of flute playing, had his students read through opera arias so that they learned to imitate the human voice. The Polish-born pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski said little, sometimes merely pointing and smiling at a passage in a score. Felix Galimir, a supremely cultivated Viennese violinist who had been Toscanini's concertmaster in the NBC Symphony, coached players in the psychology of chamber music, where, as Ax says, "no one leads and no one follows." Alexander Schneider, of the Budapest Quartet, was a Russian-accented volcano, exhorting and berating his charges. And Isidore Cohen, the longtime violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio, encouraged independence. Ma said, "He'd look at you, smoking a cigarette, and say, 'What do you think? Should there be a decrescendo?' He'd force you to make choices."


  1. I like reading pieces about interesting characters from mid-century...and then I regret that that freewheeling frame of mind has been displaces by the scared-of-own-shadow school of cultural production.