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Thoughts on …
Johann Sebastian Bach
J. S. Bach is a standalone. Like Qomolangma he peaks the enigmatic world only he knows. Bach is Music itself. He purifies, distills and sanctifies human soul and spirit. Only Schubert comes close in his genius albeit his life was too short. And then there are many others … from Haydn and Mozart through Wagner and Tchaikovsky to Schostakovich and Kancheli … wonderful composers.
Richter was like God to most of us, young piano students in Moscow. I learned a lot from him and I met him…a memorable experience. A late rehearsal in ‘Malii’ Hall and I was at the piano while Richter probably ‘lost’ his way out of the hall after the concert. I played a Haydn Sonata and Beethoven’s Op.57. He sat in the last row quietly, listened patiently and…applauded. This one-man explosive applause meant more to me than a standing ovation at a ‘sold-out’ Carnegie Hall and every other hall in the world. I still cherish his photo he signed for me. I learned musical aesthetic from him which I still value and, which I think, is timeless. After all it has been more than 30 years ago! Years played a terrible trick on this musical giant. Richter’s health declined rapidly and so did his art in his late years.
I am often asked which teaching method I use. I am aware of no such method and, therefore, use none. I share my views with younger colleagues whose personalities I like. This means that I teach only those who are ready to learn from me, to teach me and who are on the same wave length with me. My teaching is a time-consuming process but the ends justify the means. Everybody is different. I do not believe in ‘method’. If THIS is a method then I’ve invented one… but I doubt it.
Most seem to complain that the ‘business’ is going down. Is it, and if ‘yes’, why? The answer is not simple, of course. The classical recording industry suffers in spite of all technological progress or may be because of it. Unauthorized copying of recorded material is thriving. Numerous concert series, festivals, big and small, millions of CD’s, DVD’s MP3’s bombard us. Billions are spend to produce and sell all that. The market is oversaturated. Do we really need all these quantities? Most of it sounds the same to an average listener, so the average consumer of classical music responds mostly to the advertising dollars and these are spent mostly unintelligently… Reviews also work as an advertising tool, since many critics are… Well, let’s be civilized.Why are classical music concerts suffer from lowered attendance? Why classical music CD productions and sales are always subsidized either by sponsors or supported by proceeds from sales of other products? How often do you see a “Pepsi” or a “Coke” ad on a classical concert program…and how often do you see that ad at a baseball or a football game? Why is it that a baseball stadium seats on the average 30.000-50.000 and a concert hall seats only 1.500-2.500 and very rarely more? One of the reasons: because classical music is “elite”. And “elite” turned into a dirty word although some would not admit it. But “elite” exists because mass music education does not. One hardly needs a high school diploma to enjoy a baseball game. A similar kick out of a classical music concert requires years of education. Hence the result. We all know that but we are unwilling and/or unable to do anything about it. We complain…