This is the first interview piece I've ever done, so I would really appreciate feedback.
If you’ve been in much contact with musicians, you’ve undoubtedly met people who live their music; who say playing music is their passion. It is a rare thing, however, to meet someone whose passion is not just to live and play their music, but to completely understand it-to live inside it, so to speak. I had the good fortune of meeting one of these rare people recently. His name is Frank Glazer, and he is a professional pianist and teacher. He is ninety seven years old.
I walked into the Elly Long that afternoon to the not uncommon sound of someone playing the piano. As I began to watch the rehearsal, I was struck by the ease with which he moved between composers and styles, and his seeming mastery of every one. I’ve always thought it difficult to switch right from a Baroque piece to a Romantic one, but Frank jumped from Bach to Schubert while retaining the style and nuances of both composers completely.This is almost certainly due, in part, to the fact that he has no favorite composer. He says he’s not the type to pick favorites and never has been.
According to Frank, some people are born understanding certain composers better than others. Perhaps, for example, you’re a Brahms person, but have a lot of difficulty comprehending Haydn. One has to work to master the composers one doesn’t understand, to truly be able to play their pieces with “conviction”. Some people take the easy route. They stick to the composers they comprehend, and make their fortune in this way. Frank’s not like this. He’s worked hard to master the composers, one at a time, and to understand what to bring to the pieces so he could play them with “conviction” ; with true artistry. Some composers, he says, are obvious to anyone: Debussy and Rachmaninoff tell you exactly what they want right on the page, making them more accessible than Mozart, who can be tricky to figure out.
A teacher will tell their student how to play a Mozart concerto, and the student will be able to do it, but the odds are that they won’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, as they might with a more obvious composer. Frank, too, had this experience, but he wondered how the teacher knew what was correct, and why some interpretations were acceptable while others were not. This is what triggered his quest for understanding. Now, he says, it is as though he as an “ultraviolet light to detect what’s invisible on the page”. And as he grows older, that light seems to be growing brighter and brighter.
He referenced an interview he’d heard with Itzhak Perlman, where they said they body peaked at age forty-five. Frank found this curious, seeing as he is getting better all the time. Perhaps, he says, it is because though his body is no longer in peak condition, his spirit is alive and well. In each piece he plays, he’s found he’s been “finding the essence more and more.”