My Afternoon with Frank Glazer
My day with Frank Glazer was full of smiles when he was speaking, and delight when he was playing. From the moment I met him, I marveled at the energy and life that can be in one person.
I was introduced to Mr. Glazer at the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, where I was blogging for the Young Writers Project: sitting in on rehearsals, attending concerts, and writing poems and prose inspired by what I saw and heard. He is the uncle of the founder of YWP, and I had heard many things about his piano playing long before that day. But when I slipped into the concert hall and sat amid the hush and beauty of the Pathétique second movement, I heard for myself the sheer love and joy that he puts into every piece he plays.
After that rehearsal, I asked him how he kept his love for music fresh. I was especially interested in his answer because, as a piano student, I have encountered that problem. He told me that he played many different pieces, all of different textures—not only romantic, for instance—and strove to never take his moods out on his pieces: “If you are lethargic when you begin to practice Mozart, don’t impose your lethargy onto his music, but let his music wake you up!”
A few hours later, after playing the most achingly beautiful program in concert, he spoke about learning the ways of the piano from the technical as well as musical side. He talked about learning the trade of a piano technician and tuning the piano in Carnegie Hall for his performance during a technician’s strike, and how he studied the ways in which the piano can be manipulated to create new tones.
I was excited to learn that he would be playing Chopin’s first Ballade in g minor—a piece I am currently studying. I asked him what his thoughts on it were, and he inspired me with his answer, saying that since a Ballade is a story, it should be played as one over-arching unit, not in sections like a Sonata: even though there are groups within a Ballade, they must flow from one to the next without interrupting the story. But most of all, he counseled, you must play the way you yourself want to: the composer writes the original idea, but you are the one who must love what you are playing.
It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to meet Frank Glazer, whose ability to speak on any topic to any person reminded me of conversations with my own grandfather, who conveyed his excitement for ideas and love of life in every story he told and question he asked. Without the Young Writers Project and the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, I would have missed a chance to speak with and listen to a truly inspiring person.
I could have listened to Frank Glazer for many more hours, both speaking and playing: he is a master of thought and feeling. I will always value the words in his book—A Philosophy of Artistic Performance (With Some Practical Suggestions)—his variation on Shakespeare’s line:
“If music be the food of life, play on, and on and on, with Love.”