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BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS As a teacher of many years’ experience I would like to reply to Ingolf Wunder’s despairing cry over the state of music education (‘Are you ready for the future?’, Issue 79, page 26). Following on from Walter Ponce’s The Tyranny of Tradition in Piano Teaching, Wunder laments what he sees as the erasing of true values, of ‘music as a human creation with a divine dimension,’ a ‘dumbing down’ rather than a braining up to a higher level of aspiration. Such limitation was recently confirmed in a pronouncement by an official at the Rubinstein Competition who spoke of the need for ‘perfection’ (‘nothing else will be tolerated’), by which she clearly meant a mechanical expertise that ensures the right notes in the right order. As Alfred Brendel put it, with all his customary eloquence, complexity and ambiguity have come to be viewed with suspicion, resulting in a restriction rather than an expansion of vision.
By contrast, I would assert that there are now many young pianists before the public whose brilliance is complemented by character and originality, suggesting a reaction to such limitations. Can Çakmur, Federico Colli, Lucas Debargue, Benjamin Grosvenor, Alexandre Kantorow, Pavel Kolesnikov, Igor Levit, Beatrice Rana, Alfonso Soldano and Yuja Wang (to name but 10) are all artists of rare distinction,
happy to move beyond the straight and narrow and ‘define who we are as human beings.’ Bryce Morrison, via email
SOURCE OF CONTENTION In his article on Saint-Saëns (‘Ingratiating charm’, Issue 78, page 21), Benjamin Ivry writes: ‘In her 1931 handbook Music at Your Fingertips, pianist Ruth Slenczynska advised students to play through Saint-Saëns concertos, repeating passages “four times (without stopping) at each metronome speed from slow to fast, in order to build up the necessary power of endurance”.’ This quote misrepresents Slenczynska’s words. First of all, her book was published in 1961,
not 1931. On page 40 she makes a passing reference to scales in the last movement of the Saint-Saëns’ G minor Concerto. She then goes on to discuss long octave passages in certain works by Chopin and Liszt, for which she prescribes the practice routine cited by Ivry. Nowhere does Slenczynska ‘advise students to play through SaintSaëns concertos’. Donald Manildi, via email
The editor replies: The quotation in question was sourced from Orpheus wounded: The experience of pain in the professional worlds of the piano by Robert R Alford and Andras Szanto (1996). Thank you for checking Ruth Slenczynska’s original text and highlighting this disparity.
From studying at the Royal Conservatory with Glenn Gould and Mario Bernardi to performing on the concert stage in Germany, Jean Tewsʼ life was living and breathing music until her untimely passing in 1993.
In the 3 years prior to her death, she recorded new interpretations of Brahms, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, and Bachʼs Goldberg Variations on her Kawai EX Concert Grand.
These recordings have been resurrected, remastered, and are now available. Jean Tewsʼ memorable renditions of these piano greats makes this collection a must for any classical music enthusiast.
6 April 2022 International Piano www.international-piano.com