Saturday, 6/4/11

by musicclipoftheday

What would it be like to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, then sit down at the piano and try, again, to open this up, let it breathe, let it sing?

David Holzman, piano/recording session, 7/10/10
Music of Stefan Wolpe, Volume 6 (Bridge Records), 2011
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972), Four Studies on Basic Rows (Passacaglia)

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I asked him to teach my class of young English student composers—feeling really that he at least would give the students one worthwhile class. He started talking about his Passacaglia, a piano work built of sections each based on a musical interval—minor second, major second, and so on. At once, sitting at the piano, he was caught up in a meditation on how wonderful these primary materials, intervals, were; playing each over and over again on the piano, singing, roaring, humming them, loudly, softly, quickly, slowly, short and detached or drawn out and expressive. All of us forgot time passing, when the class was to finish. As he led us from the smallest one, a minor second, to the largest, a major seventh—which took all afternoon—music was reborn, new light dawned, we all knew we would never again listen to music as we had. Stefan had made each of us experience very directly the living power of these primary elements. From then on indifference was impossible. Such a lesson most of us never had before or since, I imagine.

Elliott Carter