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George Li’s pianistic idol: Russell Sherman

In a compelling personal interview, Georgle Li waxed poetic about Russell Sherman’s artistry:

“I really admire and love his playing. It’s so colorful, yet so unique that it’s totally inspiring. There is so much character, so much drama, and he does things totally unexpected that it takes your breath away.”

George whet my appetite to find a sample of Sherman’s playing, and it landed me squarely at You Tube where I ingested a wondrous reading of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 30, Op. 109, movements 1 and 2.

Naturally, the name Russell Sherman rang a bell. With less than 6 degrees of separation in the musical universe, I was bound to find a link to one of my past piano teachers, their mentors or students.

From the short Wiki bio:

“Russell Sherman is currently artist-in-residence at New England Conservatory, where over thirty years ago he met and instructed Wha Kyung Byun, a woman who later became a well-known piano instructor herself as well as his wife. (And George Li’s teacher)

“Sherman’s efforts as an educator have produced a number of pianists of note, among them, Christopher O’Riley, Tian Ying, Keren Hanan, HaeSun Paik, Minsoo Sohn, Christopher Taylor, Hugh Hinton, Soojin Ahn, Randall Hodgkinson, Rina Dokshitsky, Sergey Schepkin, Kathleen Supové, Ning An, and Craig Smith.

“Sherman’s book of short essays on piano playing related concerns, Piano Pieces, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1996.

“Among Sherman’s observations in Piano Pieces:

“Music dispels the fear of mortality and the need for rigid and permanent identities. Music rejects the nine-to-five schedule, the hunger for cash, the encroachments and limits of crass appetite.”

I made the connection to George Li’s poetic allusions about music-making when he drew upon Bruce Lee’s Eastern-based philosophy.

Likewise, Russell Sherman had imparted more words of wisdom in a Boston Globe interview, on the occasion of his 80th birthday:

“I have always considered the piano a window to the world….Somehow in playing the piano and making music you have an insight into so many different cultures and ways of thinking about the most important things in life. The repertoire is so enormous, and so representative of really the best things that have been accomplished. I have always had the feeling as a pianist that I don’t have to go to the mountain. The mountain is coming to me.’’

A bio at the New England Conservatory’s website filled in more details about the pianist’s background:

“As a Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at NEC, pianist Russell Sherman offers his insights to students through masterclasses, performance seminars, studio classes, and coachings.

“Sherman’s studies with Edward Steuermann place him in the grand Busoni/Liszt tradition, and Franz Liszt is one of the core repertoire composers with whom he is associated as a teacher and as a concert and recording artist. In 2008 Sherman released a DVD of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes that captured a live performance from New York’s Angel Orensanz Center for the Arts.

“Sherman is the first American to record both Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas and the five piano concertos. His GM release The Beethoven Piano Concertos: Live at Monadnock features the all-star Monadnock Festival Orchestra.

“Russell Sherman made his debut at Town Hall at age 15 and has been acclaimed as a soloist with many major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BSO, the Chicago Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has presented recitals throughout the U.S., Europe, South America, and the former Soviet Union.

“Sherman’s 1996 book of short essays on piano playing and allied activities, Piano Pieces, is perennially in print in the U.S. and has been published in Korean translation.”

B.A., Columbia College (N.Y.). Piano with Edward Steuermann; composition with Erich Itor Kahn. Recordings on Advent, Sine Qua Non, Vanguard, Pro Arte, Albany, GM.


I recalled “Edward Steuermann” having popped up in my New York piano teacher’s bio. Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich had studied with him at Juilliard following her years at the Oberlin Conservatory. And her husband, Irwin Freundlich had been a pupil of James Friskin and Edward Steuermann at the Institute of Musical Art which had merged with the Juilliard Graduate School in 1926 to become the current Juilliard School of Music.

Sherman, a next-generation pianist, had probably crossed paths with Lillian and Irwin at Juilliard when he was on the faculty in the 80s. (Lillian had mentioned his playing in glowing terms when I took lessons at her Riverside Drive townhouse)

New York City, being a hub of culture, would probably have found Sherman, and both Freundlichs in a triadic musical relationship.

In the same spirit, George Li, Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun enjoyed a kindred trio in the present, making the circle of keyboard life its own testament to immortality.


A Boston Globe article by Jeremy Eichler, replete with Sherman’s inspired quotes, is worth a read:

RELATED: My interview with George Li

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Why Play Scales?

Scale practicing examples:

The Backdrop:

As a young piano student living in New York City, I remember my reluctance to prepare a mandatory scale each week for my lesson. In fact my first teacher had so many students, she always seemed to forget the scale she had assigned to me, so I remained happily in the key of C for most of the year. (Played on all white keys) Little did I know that C Major was a lot more challenging to practice than the keys of B, F# and C# Major that had nice, regular patterns of double and triple black notes that fit the longer fingers perfectly, with the thumbs meeting in between.

Frederic Chopin was known to teach these three black-key scales before all others. Think about how much easier it would have been for a sightless person to play these step-wise passages with braille-like elevated black notes in regular patterns, as opposed to a sea of white notes without reference points.

Now that I’ve grown up to be a piano teacher and you tube poster, I realize the importance of scale study in the growth and development of musicianship.

Scales are about the “feel” and geography of the keyboard. They are about shaping, phrasing, sculpting. Sometimes they’re practiced with catchy rhythms, crisp and detached (staccato) or as smooth and connected, freely spun out, rolling triplets. You can even reverse the direction of the fingers when practicing scales, having them lightheartedly dance together and apart, in shades of loud, soft, and in between. And you might bring out one voice over another, by drawing more intensity from the left hand, then reversing the process, giving the right hand its place in the sun.

Most importantly, scales help us understand where we are in a piece of music because they define the TONAL CENTER of a composition or a section of it.

I wish I had known about the famous Circle of Fifths when I was beginning my piano studies. The Circle maps out the progression of scales (Major and minor) in an orderly fashion with sharps acquired going clockwise, and flats in reverse. As a student moves from the Key of C, to G, to D, to A, etc. he/she learns not only the new sharp that is picked up in the clockwise journey but comes face to face with fingering adjustments that make the smooth playing of various scales more attainable.

Scales, in summary, are part and parcel of piano study and they feed in and out of the piano repertoire. What could be a better entree to the pieces we most cherish than to find the key they’re in, and dance through a few preliminaries.

Example of a Classical era Sonata by Mozart (first movement) permeated by a series of scales.

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DREAM PIANO: Overview and Acknowledgments

My two-year long romp on the piano finding trail with York as my professional companion and consultant had been worth all the time spent in, around and under pianos. How else would I have acquired knowledge about the piano’s harp, or cast iron plate were it not for his having the bravado to dismantle it from the Proskch 1905 grand and haul it out to the College of the Sequoia’s welding department. In the face of technicians and others who mocked him for his efforts, he persevered; soda blasted the ugly looking frame and dragged it home for a second wind. Rebecca McGregor, a victim of her impulsive sight unseen Internet piano purchase and an unprincipled seller, had written me a thought provoking e-mail after she had hovered over the plate on full view in York’s driveway. It was a funereal scene.

She wrote, “I actually learned something at York’s, and I think you captured the essence of our meeting and the somber mood. Were we paying for his having tried to mend the plate, I would have stopped him, but with York’s willingness to take it on without payment, we’d have been fools not to let him proceed.” (This was before the plate cracked in two other places as York hauled it to his pick-up truck)

Rebecca had linked hands with Terry Barrett and York’s wife in a prayer vigil over the plate and then helped to flip it on its back to survey its underbelly.

The underside of inanimate things always sparked York’s curiosity and it invariably sent him nose diving under pianos to investigate anything from mice, moths and moisture to the storage of $$$ assets in the crannies of a Kawai.

To my educational advantage, he found it necessary to drag me along on his adventures to prove without a doubt that he had the lowdown on each and very piano he tuned, moth proofed and treated for rats.

And I can personally attest that his tattered, age worn diaries were evidence of his meticulous record keeping since 1948. These should someday be enshrined in the Smithsonian or at least in the PTG (Piano Technician’s Guild) Hall of Fame.

While Terry Barrett, RPT (Registered Piano Technician) argued that bridle straps had no importance in the assembly of uprights, and moths were basically harmless to pianos because they would die eating cyanide based hammer felts, York produced incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. He marched valiantly on his truth finding crusade and produced a Kimball made “Whitney” spinet without bridle straps that had a basic action defect, and he plucked a hammer from his pick-up truck that had the most perfect, moth drilled hole I had ever seen! Such was Mother Nature at work.

As an unofficial “apprentice” to the city’s senior piano tuner, I had acquired trade secrets that no piano technology school or correspondence course would ever impart. Would most “registered technicians” anywhere in the universe know to battle moths with a bottle of cloves? York was always far ahead of his time banishing moth balls from his tool box. “They cause cancer,” he said repeatedly when we stumbled upon pianos that were victims of merciless moth attacks. While I hadn’t yet seen examples of chewed up bridle straps from nest seeking rats, York had promised to phone me immediately if he had a scheduled DECON call at a church or elsewhere.

The master tuner without his formal “registration” in the Piano Technician’s Guild showed those who had somehow obtained it that he deserved at least the honorary title because of his decades long association with pianos. Thankfully, the local Fresno chapter honored York by giving him a podium to demonstrate piano restringing, and when he turned up at monthly PTG meetings as a devoted “associate member,” his colleagues always greeted him with a hearty slap on the back.

On the day I had shown up to interview “Laroy Edwards” retired Yamaha senior piano technician, and emissary for the company all over the world, York made his presence known by telling his full length account about the cat that had been trapped under a grand piano lid and miraculously, emerged alive and well, though hairless. York fleshed out, colorful new details each time he spun a piano related tale, though he sometimes forgot that he’d told the story one too many times.

Besides being York’s companion through our two year-long piano adventure, my having compiled these stories was a natural outcome of all the trips made to many homes containing used pianos of an infinite variety–some sold in estate sales and auctions.

And in the course of this learning driven journey, I had hoped that readers would willingly share their own piano memorabilia since a keyboard culture may be dying on the vine if not preserved.

The old upright stories should be written down and treasured. The genealogy of older pianos should be a relentless source of research. Piano owners should learn how to discover the age of their pianos by seeking out the serial numbers on the cast iron plate, and by consulting the Pierce Piano Atlas or the Bluebook of While it’s common for piano owners to throw up their hands and say,”I know virtually nothing about my piano,” it’s time for a new attitude to replace the old. Even “Alice” was exhilarated to know more about her “player piano without a name” when I enlisted her in the fact finding adventure. While the piano had been virtually un-played for 4 years since its purchase from an antique store for $125, she quickly became my “Dr. Watson” beaming a flash light on its cast iron plate; screaming in delight when she discovered the digits that might help date it. In the case of her particular piano, supplementary information acquired from Robert Furst’s Bluebook of led to its more conclusive identity.

Sharing a systemic approach to the whole research undertaking with Alice, I was able to enlist a new partisan in the preservation of old pianos. In fact, she became very reluctant to part with her stately upright once I had breathed life into it as a performing pianist. But at long last, it finally found a worthy owner who had promised to take good care of it and give it a new home.

Another piano, a table style Aeolian with three leaves underwent an equally intense identity crisis as its true birth date was pursued. I couldn’t thank Mr. York enough for his A-1 guesstimate and Terry Barrett for pulling the piano’s action and stumbling upon a note with the date “APR 1936” engraved in the wood. What a miraculous discovery!!

DREAM PIANO had been all about the exciting adventure of pursuing and finding pianos, primarily in the private party, used piano market and how these travels of mine had changed the hearts and minds of the many piano owners that I’d encountered. Just making a routine house call to check on a piano up for sale, I’d invited myself into the lives of so my people who possessed the kindness and generosity to share their piano stories. “Ralph Cato,” whom I’d met at the Guitar Center looking for a keyboard to give his daughter for Christmas shared a heart rending story about his first piano and how he stole into the night to pick the lock and play it. Even a US Olympic Team boxing trainer with the exterior of a lion, softened up to share a tender memoir.

“Caroline Scheer” opened her heart to me and finally imparted the reason she wanted to sell her beloved Knight piano. This had been a mystery all along, but when the truth spilled out one day during a taped phone interview, all the puzzle pieces fit together. I had learned that her father never kept his promise to buy her a grand piano, like the one she had seen at Delaware University, if she obtained all “A’s” on her report card. How many others would want a grand size piano in their home just because they had been deprived of one early in life.

In my travels, I had learned that pianos had a wide variety of meanings for different owners. For some, they were not musical instruments at all, but beautiful pieces of furniture to behold. But that might have been because the buyer or seller didn’t know where to begin in assessing the value of something that at one time had a playing life. And from the countless visits I’d made to homes with old pianos, just by playing them, they acquired a new value and meaning for their owners. Maybe there was an important message to heed. Why not bring a performing musician and piano technician to an establishment or home that housed a piano for sale. Why rely on a visual assessment of something that was meant to elicit tones, harmonics, and chords of beauty?

Perhaps the late Anne Meux, whose esteemed Fresno family had been memorialized in a landmark home preservation, experienced an awakening when her pianos came to life the afternoon I had played them. Prior to my impromptu visit, these musical treasures might well have been regarded as decorative furnishings, appreciated only for their external beauty.

Pianos I’d encountered that were pretty but without musical value:

So many piano owners found themselves with antiques of the square or parlor grand variety that were quite ornate looking but could not play worth a dime. And when it was time to sell them, they confronted the hard reality that as play-less instruments and artifacts of the past, that no one wanted them in the present or future. So what was purchased for $5,000 some years back would sell for $200 or less in the private party marketplace. Some of these age worn and ill maintained pianos might have had to be donated out to a favorite charity. As Terry Barrett poignantly said, “An antique piano was just a different animal.”

“Sam” Torcaso, owner of Chesterfield’s in Fresno, brought it home that the older uprights were just not selling and the whole marketplace of antique pianos was abysmal. She pointed to the bleak housing situation with foreclosures abounding and the dearth of interior decorators that would be consulted to design the insides of newly acquired homes as reflecting part of the problem. But despite her registered cynicism about the universe of antique pianos, she had always known to advise her customers to bring in a technician before they made any kind of “all sales final,” piano purchase at her establishment. This recommendation showed her respect and concern for those who would buy a piano from Chesterfields and then pass it to their children to learn on.

More stories from Dream Piano:

FUJIE had the patience to await the arrival of her dream Kawai K 15 studio upright model piano housed at California Piano,

and “Sharon Cooper” allowed me to include our clandestine tryst in the seedy parking lot beside Ag Hardware where a cash drop was made for a dream piano.

Not to forget Dan Bates, who stole off and bought a Petrof piano, while in the grip of his obsession over the Steinway 1968. May the best piano win!!

And who could forget the Dream Piano I fought for and won, a French Provincial Baldwin Artist Grand.

On the last lap of my journey, I also stumbled upon “Victor Thasia” who was the first person I had ever met who changed his mind about selling his piano, and was ready to love and cherish it forever. Thanks for sharing your epiphany!

And what an opportunity came my way to record on a Dream Piano compliments of the Visalia Piano Gallery:</a

To “Patricia Frederick,” of the Fredericks collection in Ashburnham, Mass., and Thomas Winter, early piano restorer, San Francisco, my sincere appreciation to you for having provided scholarly words of wisdom about period pianos. What a rare opportunity came my way to play a 19th Century Dream Piano that turned up at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop.

And another period piece that was beautiful on the outside but proved to be a pathetic tonal disaster!

Concluding Bonus Chapter:

Extra: York’s World War II Musical Memoir

More People to Thank:

Terry Barrett, RPT, Fresno gave countless hours detailing pianos for me and helped me write about them from a more technical perspective. While he sometimes disagreed with York about the significance of moth damage and the value bridle straps, he contributed loads of piano related information that enhanced my stories and also assisted sellers in learning more about their pianos.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge all those piano students who gave me my first opportunity to help them find their first real, 88 note, playing pianos. “Michelle” now happily practices on a lovely Baldwin, 1970’s console that had its first tuning, and tweaking by YORK, and my youngest pupil, “Claudia” enjoys her resonating Yamaha studio upright 1992 that I found in the former, Old Hilton Hotel in Fresno where a salvaging company was selling it. I remember how I had managed to get there just at the right time before word got out that two practically new pianos were accumulating dust in a second floor banquet room. Oddly, the Yamaha sat for too long after it was purchased and couldn’t get down the elevator to the ground floor until inspections were made and certification papers filed with the County. In the end, when the piano descended to the first floor level for transport, it was shipped gratis to the base of steps leading to the new owner’s second floor apartment. That’s when a challenge arose! “Elaine,” Claudia’s mother could either pay a whopping $400 to move the piano up two flights of stairs or enlist the help of able bodied neighbors. I wish I could have been there to see how they managed to turn the corner on the landings and push the 700 plus pound piano into the apartment. It must have been quite a sight to behold!

Some piano owners had been luckier than others in moving their pianos. York had told me that the Salvaging company owner, who sold Elaine the Yamaha, tipped over a Kawai piano while he was steering it into another banquet room. “The whole thing just came crashin’ down all at once,” he said. I had dispatched him to give the Yamaha a once over appraisal before it was purchased, and according to YORK, “it passed with flyin’ colors.” While he was at the hotel, he happened to look at the action assembly of the neighboring Kawai console and discovered that the hammers were over-sized and not fitting right. York always knew his stuff when it came to pianos and their interiors. He was also an ace evaluator of piano finishes and could rub the tips of his thickly padded fingers against the grain and ascertain what percentage was veneer.

The old man had done just about everything where it came to pianos. He tuned, repaired, refinished, and moved them. He was quite the master of all trades and he allowed me a share of his knowledge under careful supervision!

Finally, thank you to those who might not have gotten into the pages of this book but who added to my knowledge about pianos of all shapes, sizes, and vintage. I am beholden to “Martin Sigley,” a brilliant player piano restorer who loves what he does like a poet who crafts every word as a jewel. I was so impressed by his little shop that housed an old Behr Player and an “Angelus Orchestral,” and how intensely he worked. The world should regard him as a heaven sent angel. In a universe that values big cars, and expansive, designer homes, there is sadly little room to think about old world type restorers who will someday vanish without the appreciation they deserved in life.

In conclusion, a warm and grateful hug for my 96 year old mother, Jessie Taft Smith who sat relentlessly on the phone in the wee hours of the morning and listened to each Dream Piano chapter as it unfolded and voiced hard fought criticism that drove some periodic changes in my writing. I couldn’t have done it without her.

PS Additional acknowledgments: Peter Wolf, recording engineer, Wolf Sound, Fresno, CA
Bill Sayre, owner, Fasttraxx recording studio, Fresno, CA Heyner Oviedo, Fresno Piano,
The late Anne Meux, Fresno, CA

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Piano Instruction: Part one, Harmonic Rhythm and Phrasing, Mozart Sonata in C, K. 545, Shirley Kirsten, Piano  (Part 2)

The attached video contains the first part of a tutorial on the subject of Harmonic Rhythm and Phrasing as applies to Mozart’s popular “drawing room” sonata in C, K. 545. (First Theme) I will be uploading part two which will continue analysis through completion of the Exposition. (first and second theme statements) Part 3 will follow from the Development section to the composition’s conclusion.

The discussion and demonstration in this video circumscribe how to interpret or shape phrases in relation to underlying harmonic movement. I show by example how certain chords “resolve” down to others, and in acquiring awareness of these resolutions, melodic shaping is clarified.

Without getting too bogged down in the theory side of musical analysis, I think the student can develop enough of a trained ear to be sensitive to relationships between chords, and how this awareness can assist with overall interpretation and nuances of phrasing.

Part II, continues through the second theme. Although I have already recorded this segment, the total presentation posed length problems, and for one sitting it may have been too much to absorb.

Feedback is always appreciated.

See Part 2  Video: Mozart Sonata K. 545, Harmonic Rhythm/Phrasing

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Music, life, and memories (Video)

I’m in a Scarlatti phase of music making that hearkens back to my days as a student at the New York City High School of Performing Arts (“Fame I wanna live forever”) when I was studying with Lillian Freundlich at her townhouse off Riverside Drive. The sonata I posted above, was her first musical recommendation to me. She insisted that I purchase the Friskin edition, and start by learning one of the effervescent essercizi in G Major, L. 387.  (K. 14) The rest is history as decades later, I recorded 28 of them for two cd albums.

My lessons with Mrs. Freundlich were an eternal awakening. She would sing over my playing, prod me to shape musical phrases, and encourage my search for oneness with the instrument. Before I met Lillian, I always knew what I wanted to hear inside of me, but, frustrated by technical barriers, I couldn’t play many notes without feeling tight and fatigued. The music I produced was boxed in, wanting desperately to flower.

As fate would have it, my studies with Lillian were all too short. Within two years I was bound for the Oberlin Conservatory, where I felt boxed in again. Practice rooms were stacked high, and Performance Majors seemed assembly line processed. I missed the West Side townhouse, and my lessons in an enormous living room with a cathedral ceiling and the love of music permeating every bit of space.

For the four years I was away at Oberlin, I yearned to return to a welcoming environment that made music spiritual. It was very frustrating to hear my pieces echoed through the walls of conservatory practice rooms. And even more disconcerting to sit through eons of student recitals, where attendance was mandatory. All over again my repertoire was regurgitated to the exponential, and not with the freedom of musical expression that would appeal to me.  Mechanical players abounded, who were happy to get through a composition with the right notes.

Lil’s living room haunted me night and day. It held a gorgeous Mason and Hamlin grand beside a Steinway. And upstairs, there was still another Steinway grand that was used when both Lillian and her husband were teaching private students. Irwin, was at the time Chair of the Piano Department at Juilliard and he had a fine reputation for nursing some very talented performers along. One, named Joseph Schwartz, became a faculty member at Oberlin during the years I attended. What a coincidence to meet him there!

Freundlich’s Sanctuary:

Like it was yesterday, I remember seeing my reflection in a big decorative mirror overshadowing a florid mahogany table that displayed programs of students like Stephen Manes, who were making their Carnegie Recital Hall debuts. They were wide eyed, young musicians, who wanted to make performing their life’s work, and their launch was special to the Freundlichs who made their home a concert hall.

I remember how excited I was to be invited to hear Stephen play, in the midst of so many older Juilliard students. I had just started with Lillian, and felt at the time like a beginner who needed lots of training and encouragement. I would dream that some day I might have a glossy photo attached to a brochure about my forthcoming public concert. That would surely mean, I had arrived.

Christina Petrovsky, one of my classmates at the High School of Performing Arts, just happened to be a student of Irwin, and turned up at one of the Hauskonzerts. She had come down from Canada to study piano.

Performing Arts High or “P.A.” as it was commonly called, was a home to a number of well known musicians, dancers, and actors. Murray Perahia, was a year ahead of me, and was probably the most pervasive musical influence of my life, besides Lillian Freundlich.

He had such a big presence at our high school that I can’t think of my years there, without his name inscribed in my memory forever.

Murray would be invited to play a Continuo part (bass) at the piano as we sat in the orchestra playing a Corelli Concerto Grosso. Since I had been studying violin along with piano, I was embedded in the ensemble drawing long bows, listening attentively to what Murray was doing over at the grand.

Perahia’s continuo just dominated the whole musical experience. He drew a gorgeous tone from the piano, and from my perspective, I saw him turn red in the face with each sonorous bass note.

Other memorable performances were his Beethoven second piano concerto, Chopin E minor,  and Mendelssohn trio in D minor. His chamber music was particularly divine. He drew a crowd of students when he decided to stay after school and read through some scores. During one afternoon, he played a Brahms symphony  accounting for every instrument, and its transposition. I was just bowled over with amazement.

I will always remember the day he ascended the podium to conduct our school orchestra. Perahia was one of a handful of students taking conducting classes with Julius Grossman, our chamber music director and he was scheduled to have his performance exam.

Until Perahia took the baton, most of us were playing as if we suffered with anemia. There was very little spark, and we were ragged out from our long commute to school very early in the morning, compounded by the volume of music and academic classes. These included Sight-singing and Dictation; Music Theory, Music History, Applied Study, Geometry, English, Science, American History, and Economics.

Perahia tweaked our energy levels in no time. He conducted a late Haydn Symphony, and drew every last drop of blood out of us in pursuit of beauty.  We never sounded better as we were drawn out of our malaise.  But then it was back to the mundane and our normal class schedules.

To be truthful, the emphasis at “P.A.” the “Fame” School,  was not on academics, and some students like myself, were ostracized for excelling in English or Math. One afternoon, my books were stolen after I aced an exam that most students failed. It was not my happiest time of life, though the school had wonderful teachers like Shirley Katz and Florence Schwager (Math) as well as Madame Gregg and Stone, (French) who encouraged me along.

The best part of “P.A.” was being in proximity to Perahia, and some other outstanding musicians such as Gerard Schwarz, Ellen Zoe Hassman, Kun-Woo Paik, and Marian Heller. These students were awe inspiring, along with other classmates and faculty members in the Drama and Dance Department: Robin Strasser, Bel Kaufman, and Norman Walker.

Now that I am years removed from Performing Arts High School as well as the Oberlin Conservatory, I still live and breathe music. Picking up a Scarlatti score just now, and recording sonatas that Lillian assigned me as a fledgling rekindles memories that are drawn from a diverse, rich and uncommonly fascinating life.

Post script: I discovered these tributes to my beloved teacher, the late, Lillian Freundlich, at a Peabody Conservatory Internet site: