niedziela, 3 lipca 2022

STEFAN KAMASA, PORTRET Z VIOLĄ

  

STEFAN KAMASA PORTRET Z VIOLĄ

Wysłuchał i opracował Błażej Maliszewski (Pelpin 2021)

  

REFLEKSJE 

Osobowość:

·       Podziw i uznanie towarzyszyły mi nieustannie podczas pasjonującej lektury tej wybornej, znakomitej publikacji, w zachwycającej formie jakby opowieści i zwierzenia samego Stefana Kamasy. Kapitalny pomysł!

·        Wprawdzie ze Stefanem Kamasą łączyła mnie wieloletnia przyjaźń i współpraca muzyczna, ale dopiero podczas lektury eseju, ukazał mi się kompletny, oszałamiający wymiar tej niezwykłej osobowości.

Profesja:

·       Mistrzowsko opanowaną profesję instrumentalną i wykonawczą, Stefan Kamasa z autentycznym sukcesem urzeczywistnił w wielkiej rozmaitości.

·       Był to, godzien najwyższego podziwu, altowiolista uniwersalny.

Inicjator:

·       Swą muzyczną pasję Stefan Kamasa, realizował nie tylko osobistym wykonywaniem, ale również twórczą inicjatywą.

·       To jemu, jego inicjatywie i perswazji, świat zawdzięcza skomponowanie wybitnych dzieł na altówkę i orkiestrę przez Grażynę Bacewicz, Tadeusza Bairda, Romana Palestra, Krzysztofa Pendereckiego i kilku innych twórców.

Refleksja, moja osobista:

·       W areopagu obdarzonych mi przez Los znakomitych partnerów, Stefan Kamasa zajmuje poczesne miejsce.

·       Wydawało mi się, że jego interpretacja nie miała dla mnie tajemnic. Wszystko było zrozumiałe i oczywiste.

·       Miałem wrażenie, że Stefan odczuwał pokrewny komfort w moim graniu.

·       Ten wspomniany komfort opierał się o dominację naturalnego śpiewu.

·       Stefan, śpiewał altówką!

·       Zanim dysfunkcja prawej ręki uniemożliwiła mi w ogóle granie, niekiedy udawało mi się przekonać Steinwaya, żeby zamiast stukać, właśnie zaczął też śpiewać.


                                               Prof.Jerzy Marchwiński

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEFAN KAMASA: PORTRAIT WITH A VIOLA

  

 

STEFAN KAMASA: PORTRAIT WITH A VIOLA

Listened to and compiled by Błażej Maliszewski (Pelpin 2021)

         

         REFLECTIONS

Personality:

·        Reading this exquisite, excellent publication, I was full of admiration and appreciation.

·        Although Stefan Kamasa was my friend of many years, and we had been long working together, I became fully aware of the stunning dimension of his extraordinary personality only after reading this essay.

Profession:

·        A master of his instrument and profession, Stefan Kamasa successfully realized his talent in many ways. 

·        He was a universal viola player, worthy of the highest admiration.

An initiator:

·        Stefan Kamasa realized his musical passion not only when performing music; he was full of initiative.

·        It is to him, to his initiative and persuasion, that the world owes the creation of outstanding works for viola and orchestra by Grażyna Bacewicz, Tadeusz Baird, Roman Palester, Krzysztof Penderecki, and several other artists. 

My personal reflection: 

·        Stefan Kamasa holds a prominent place in the elite of illustrious partners bestowed upon me by Fate.

·        His interpretation always seemed perfectly obvious to me. Everything was comprehensible and crystal clear.

·        I had the impression that Stefan also felt comfortable with my playing.

·        This feeling of comfort was based on natural singing.

·         Stefan sang with his viola!

·        Before my right-hand impairment prevented me from playing at all, I was sometimes able to persuade my  Steinway to start singing instead of simply responding to my tapping.            

                          Prof.Jerzy Marchwiński

środa, 8 czerwca 2022

CHOPIN&SOWIŃSKI, Polskie Tria Romantyczne

 Prof. Jerzy MARCHWIŃSKI

Warszawa. 07.06.2022


CHOPIN&SOWIŃSKI

POLSKIE TRIA ROMANTYCZNE

Anna PROBUCKA-FIRLEJ – fortepian, Paula PREUSS – skrzypce, 

Jan LEWANDOWSKI -wiolonczela


4 REFLEKSJE:

  • Właściwie, powinienem był zatytułować te dywagacje Refleksje osobiste, a nie np. recenzje. Recenzje niech piszą fachowcy od krytyki i teorii. Ja jestem, za przeproszeniem, artystą i mam podzielić się oceną innych artystów, czego dość nie lubię!
  • Pierwsza refleksja, która mi się pojawiła, to rodzaj zdumienia. Słuchałem wszak trojga a miałem wrażenie, że słucham jednego wykonawcy. Nie skrywam, że to znajduje się w moim preferowanym, bardzo pozytywnym odczuciu, kiedy zespół, przy całkowitym zachowaniu odrębności i niezależności, sprawia pozytywne wrażenie naturalnej jedności. Taka właśnie była moja reakcja, po wysłuchaniu obydwu Triów.
  • Inne silne odczucie, to głęboka radość ze słuchania nieznanej mi uprzednio polskiej muzyki. Z zachowaniem oczywistej kultury i taktu, marzy mi się zwiększona podaż mało, albo wręcz nieznanych dzieł polskich twórców, których nazwiska nie wychodzą aktualnie jedynie poza rozmaite almanachy i kroniki, oczekując rycerza, który je obudzi do życia spod zwałów archiwalnego kurzu.
  • Chopin to wiadomo, ale doprawdy byłem zaczarowany Triem Sowińskiego. Muzyka szczera i osobista, klarowna, pełna atrakcyjnej narracji, na dodatek znakomicie wyartykułowana opowieścią wybornych wykonawców.

I właściwie, Drodzy Państwo, są to jedyne refleksje, którymi chcę się z Wami podzielić.  

                                                             

                                    prof. Jerzy Marchwiński                      

                             

niedziela, 29 maja 2022

A Few Reflections on Partnership in Music.

 1. Introduction to partnership in music

Let me present here a handful of personal or even proprietary thoughts. Even though the musical community uses virtually the same terminology,   I have never come across any trace of a reasonably similar or closely related issue. I have never heard it from anyone, and nobody has taught me anything about it, strictly speaking. They are the result of my experience and thoughts, from the times of my intense presence on stage – from which fate has irrevocably removed me – and from the time I have spent in university halls, where, together with my students, we uncover the mysteries of Art, perhaps the most beautiful and refined fruit of the human spirit.

          Motives? I have explained my views on partnership on stage, in studios, and in TV broadcasts. I now explain it to my students. I thought I should leave a written account of my views. Perhaps it will last longer than my concerts and lectures?

          Besides, in my searches in libraries and on the internet, I have not come across any publications about partnerships between people. I am somewhat surprised because I perceive a successful partnership to be essential. It's the prime component in successful co-existence and, in the case of musicians (of whom only a few function as individual artists), the partnership is a leading value in professional life and self-fulfillment. Yet little has been said about the partnership as such!

          Partnership, when we take a closer look at it, is a very extensive concept, although it is difficult to grasp and systematize. In effect, it appears to me as a mosaic composed of many elements, without priority or hierarchy, or as the image we see in a kaleidoscope. So, that is the form of expression I have adopted here.

2. Partnership

    This presentation has originally named the Lecture on Partnership in Music. However, I insisted on replacing its name with the current one: A Few Reflections on Partnership in Music.  

   Lectures are generally associated with the atmosphere of science, and it is commonly expected that the presented concepts will tend towards generalization with the focus on seeking regularities and uniform, patent solutions.

    The atmosphere of reflections is quite different as it flourishes when given a certain degree of freedom; it allows for individual, personal concepts which, even if absolutely right, still ensure some space for spontaneity and individual perception of a problem. I would venture to suggest that reflections allow one to approach a mystery without the obligation to fully explore it and give it a name.

   For my personal convenience, I use a simple, or even simplistic image to compare science with art. It is a crossword puzzle. If you want science, you just need the vertical and horizontal words to fit together. And in art? The horizontal is perfect, the vertical fit fine, but there’s no art whatsoever!

    The reflections which I would like to share with you now belong to the world of art, even if they do not dwell directly in the world of sounds. However, they refer to the unique reality of a group of people marked with the stigma of art and the mysterious capabilities which are called talent or just an ability, irrespective of their depth. In fact, it would be difficult to find the one and only solution which would be totally fair and correct. This space allows for the mystery of intuition and special sensitivity. 

  Naturally, that universe rests upon the foundation of professional skills and special knowledge which can be learned and acquired. You can learn a profession. However, nobody succeeded yet in learning a talent! I am deeply convinced that my reflections fall into the category of profession, and they might prove useful for those who seek their own place in the art world, which is difficult to dwell in.

 Personally, I think that there are three ideas which bind people together and form a significant aspect of their successful living together. They are love which is an emotion, friendship which is an alliance, and partnership which is wisdom.

   The Internet repository clearly points to the privileged position of love in literature. Geniuses of the pen have used a sea of ink for the purpose, starting almost from the dawn of human history, and the trend continues. Just think about the Song of Songs by Solomon, Greek mythology in bulk (or almost), innumerable poems, epics, novels, and parables.

    Although the concept of friendship is present in the Iliad, the Bible, and the works of outstanding writers including Cervantes, Goethe, Krasicki, and Prus to mention some Polish novelists, it is just a fraction in comparison to love.

    How about a partnership? The literature is silent. Only recently, have some journalists begun to mention it. It is quite surprising, considering that human partnership seems to be a patent and efficient guarantee of successful cooperation and coexistence with others and it seems to offer the greatest chance to create a mutual version of reality. Love is not so reliable, as “it is a gypsy's child, and it has never, never known the law.”  For that matter, friendship may also fail to survive the confrontation with various very challenging situations.

   I sometimes think that partnership is still waiting for Shakespeare or a philosopher similar to Kotarbiński. My own Essay is just a tiny, unprecedented, and pioneering prelude to something which has not yet been called into existence. After starting to work on it, I was amazed to realize that the concept of partnership in music is not so distant from the human partnership in general and actually, they seem exactly the same if one sets the paraphernalia of music aside. Therefore, the topic of partnership in music has become for me an excuse or a tool for exploring the fascinating, vast phenomenon of partnership as a universal concept. 

   More than 60 years from now, an outstanding artist Edmund Kossowski who was at the height of his potential at that time, made a recording of the Winterreise with me, a fresh graduate of the State Academy of Music PWSM. That recording, now an archival one, became the leaven of my lifelong passion. From the very beginning of our work together, I have been aware that Franz’s song is a single piece written for two performers – the singer and the pianist, and that both are shouldering the indivisible responsibility for the optimal performance of that masterpiece.

    Another personal discovery was the awareness of the fact that all the performances of music are either solo pieces or teamwork in partnership with others and there is no other option. I am positive that partnership, in contrast to the deformed relation between the soloist and his accompanist,  forms the best and most creative foundation for ensemble performances. 

    Just a few words about the accompaniment and the accompanist and their role as the art and the service. The so-called accompaniment constitutes an integral part of a musical work and similarly to all the other parts it has to be performed impeccably, in the perfect context of the relationship between the leading and supporting element. Let us examine Chopin’s Nocturnes as an example: the right hand there weaves the leading chant of the Nocturne and the left one is the accompaniment that supports it. However, if the left hand’s accompaniment is done poorly, it will spoil even the most exquisite flow of the right hand. Actually, there is no need to analyze the Nocturne as an example. Even the simplest Alberti Bass can be performed shamefully or ideally, it can either corrupt the performance or create it. A pianist who is performing so-called accompaniment should never part with the awareness that he is an artist and a co-creator of the performance who is drawing from the whole palette of his skill as a professional pianist.

    The artistic work should not be marred by any problems stemming from the relationship between the performers, as such a relationship should always be established partnership-wise.  Things get tangled when the relationship between the so-called soloist and accompanist is burdened with negative connotations. In schools of all levels including the academies, the teachers, even the highly respectable ones, commit an alarming mistake when they encode in their students’  perception a concept of a pianist/accompanist who is there just to provide a service. It happens even while working on sonatas which are still commonly defined as instrumental works with piano accompaniment. This scandalous deformation can leave a lifelong scar even on renowned artists.

   Regrettably, the problematic relationship between a privileged performer and an accompanist who is obligatorily subordinated is still an issue, even in the trivial sense.  Such disparate relations between the performers translate into the artistic effect of the performance. There is a noticeable difference in the quality of Mozart’s songs performed by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf with an accompanist, even though he is named the emperor of accompanists and by the same Schwarzkopf with Walter Gieseking, the king of pianists of that era. It seems that the reason is purely psychological: one can either be a partner, understood as one of two equally important performers, or an accompanist, even if his contribution is of perfect quality.

Mosaic

1.   Freedom, the basis for  partnership  

          For any type of partnership! As I comprehend it, partnership functions between free people. Submissiveness, distortions, and deformities of freedom, though common, are of no interest to me.

          Freedom is neither given nor bestowed by grace upon anyone. Freedom is a fundamental need of man which is his due, like light and air, simply by dint of being alive.

          Attempts to restrict or steer freedom unleashes the demons of intolerance and anguish that only man can inflict upon man. So as not to be misunderstood, I would like to stress that I do not consider the changing and evolving requirements of living together in society to be limitations on freedom – rather, I regard them as composing the "culture of co-existence", broadly understood. This culture, if observed by everyone, would render doubtful the need for all legal codes and religious commandments.

                                                                                    Together but free, as I call it with a smile: Zusammen, aber frei. A deep sense of freedom, respect for obvious professional discipline, observance of the aforementioned culture of co-existence, and the insights into the partnership I outline below – form fertile grounds for the success of music that is performed together, artistic success, and self-fulfillment experienced by each of the partners.

2. Partnership. The explanation of the concept

         The Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1990 defines partnership in the following way: “Partnership, a voluntary association of two or more persons for the purpose of managing a business enterprise and sharing its profits or losses”.

          Britannica, possibly the best encyclopedia worldwide, has provided a definition that seems perfect. Nothing more, nothing less. It encompasses everything, clearly and concisely.

          However, just after having read it I recalled an excellent, wise, and significant story about an inquisitive student who asked his master if the whole Torah could be reduced just to one sentence. I suspect that the reply of the master was spiced with a philosophical smile: „Naturally, what is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor’.  This is the whole Torah. The rest is a commentary”.

          The partnership seems to constitute a similar case. The encyclopedic definition provides an essence reduced to one brief sentence, and obviously, it can always be supplemented with a commentary. Naturally, the commentary you are going to read now is personal, as I would never venture to think, even for a moment, about providing a universal one.

          Let me begin with a reflection that nothing happens by itself; all the culture and all creative relations between men require effort, involvement, wisdom, persistence, even devotion, and other similar, related values.

          The indispensable, basic condition for a musician is to achieve the highest possible level of professional skill. 

          I decided to choose twelve of the most important values to discuss in my personal commentary, without arranging them in any hierarchical order. Just a kind of the “Dodecalogue of the Partnership in Music”.  I hope they may serve as a list of elements necessary to create a reasonably coherent whole.

          Here they are:

The first value: Shared responsibility for the whole performance

                    To keep things orderly, let me first quote a great definition of the music work by the wonderful, invaluable professor Kazimierz Sikorski: „Although a music work is a unity, it consists of many elements: melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, agogics, articulation, counterpoint, form, and emotional contents”.

          A soloist performs all elements of musical work on his own, at his sole responsibility. His is the success and he is the failure. He does not have to reckon with anybody or anything.

          The responsibility for a partner-like ensemble performance is of dual character: besides the part of the work performed by an individual artist, it concerns also the value of the whole work. The performer is constantly aware that his contribution, if meager, will degrade the whole performance by depreciating the effort and involvement of the other participants.

The second value: Reciprocity

          It is impossible to imagine a one-sided partnership, or, similarly, a friendship. Only unrequited love is imaginable in some sense. Any expectations of happiness and success on the part of an infatuated person are his or her personal problem, and the responsibility is also his or hers.

          I have always thought - allow me to quote myself - that the fact that I love you does not oblige you to anything and does not authorize me to anything.

The third value:  Understanding the partner

                    Understanding is meant here both in the literal and wider sense. Understanding in the literal, simple sense also seems quite significant, perhaps contrary to appearances.  Every person, even if speaking a common, native language, expresses his thoughts and chooses his vocabulary following a characteristic pattern; each of us has an individual sense of humor and a style of approaching others. Various, quite common misunderstandings which often are so irritating, result precisely from such seemingly trifling details.

          The wider meaning of this aspect which reaches deeper into the domain of psychology embraces the knowledge of individual features of a partner including his temperament and personality. Gender differences are also significant. Musical partnership with a man or a woman has always felt different to me. It may be considered insignificant from a purely professional viewpoint, but at the same time, it is one of the nuances which affect the comfort of being together.

The fourth value: Openness to dialogue

           I quite enjoy the adage that two monologues do not make up a dialogue. True enough, when each of the partners is focused only on his part without any contact with the utterances of the other partner, the dialogue simply is not there. This concerns equally the musical dialogue and dialogue of our everyday co-existence with another person.

The fifth value: Readiness to understand the otherness of the partner

          Although it is generally known that every person is unique and one of a kind, this fact is surprisingly often forgotten in everyday relations. This is particularly true for a long-lasting arrangement with one or more partners. The understandable differences may turn into a problem when initial attraction gives way to unavoidable irritation.

          Also, it is not so easy to accept the fact that the readiness to understand the otherness of the partner should be reciprocal; our partner should be equally willing to understand our idiosyncrasies.

          The awareness of this phenomenon is invaluable as it greatly facilitates all and any ventures into this delicate and extremely sensitive territory.

The sixth value: Internal space

          I mean primarily the space for thoughts that allows for relatively conflict-free existence and collaboration with a partner, free from doctrines, narrowed aesthetic preferences, world-outlook bias, moral and even historic encumbrances, not to mention traces of racial connotations.

          Such space provides a considerable luxury and comfort of being together and working with a partner, ensuring an almost absolute guarantee of the freedom of artistic expression without any risk to the comfort of being together.

The seventh value is: Ability to hear the partner and oneself at the same time

          This ability is one of the fundamental differences between solo and ensemble performances. The fact that the soloist hears only himself is by no means a discovery. In turn, an ensemble performer must – really must – hear himself perfectly and at the same time hear and understand the part played by his partner.

          I am sure that it is not only an ability but also a skill that can be taught.

          I do not see any special reason to explain how important and valuable such hearing for the fascination in the creation of performative art and everyday life is. Well, this obligation of simultaneous hearing and understanding oneself and the partner should actually refer both to playing together and to ordinary, every day being together with another person, shouldn't it?

The eighth value: Good manners in togetherness

           It might be worthwhile to remind those good manners are obligatory for being together with another person in any circumstances, both professional and in private life.  Any joint or shared activity demands good-mannered behavior and reciprocal communication, particularly in an atmosphere of tension and involvement in the work. 

The ninth value: Tactful reduction of tension       

            It seems obvious to me that certain tensions are unavoidable in any partnership, even the most comprehensive and perfect. It would be naïve to think that partnership is just cakes and ale forever.

          The tensions may stem from the richness of human nature, but they may also result from seemingly trifling situations which sometimes carry a hidden potential for a more serious conflict.

          When such tensions do emerge, the ability to solve them tactfully is simply priceless. Perhaps it is worth remembering that certain discomfort experienced in the proximity of another person can be mutual, and the partner may also feel uncomfortable with me. Ah, the reciprocity requirement in partnership never ends!

The tenth value: The ability to accept compromise

          It seems an obvious approach to the sensitive issue of divergent aesthetic preferences. I find it highly comfortable to acknowledge that the interpretation of a musical phrase does not necessarily have to be identical for all the performers in the ensemble;  all of them are professionals and, obviously, none will propose any musical nonsense. Certain divergences and interpretation nuances stem from understandable individual differences, and they can even make the performance more attractive and colorful.

          Any attempts at uniformity usually end up in failure. This is the very space for compromise which allows for the otherness and the freedom of speech. 

The eleventh value: Respect and confidence in the partner

In addition to the obvious respect for professional skill, this refers also to purely humanistic values, to the approach to life, interactions with others as well as the ability to cope with challenges and various co-existential problems – in brief, to all the facets which combine into a full personality.

          The confidence in the professionalism of the partner seems self-evident, similar to the confidence in his general approach to life. 

The twelfth value: Understand the imperfections of your partner... and yourself

          The English adage Nobody is perfect is not just a handy phrase. The understanding and acknowledgment of this obvious, albeit inconspicuous truth protects against harmful irritation, let’s keep the distance from one's own imperfections and possibly prevent destructive frustration and excessive quandary.

          As it has already been said, my commentary on the encyclopedic definition is personal or even authorial. The dimension of the concept of partnership and partnership in music, in particular, is huge and it seems necessary to arrange its various elements in the order of importance. The ones which have been presented here for my purpose hopefully provide a compact and precise image of this absolutely fascinating relationship gracing our professional and private life.

          I am aware of the fact that my concept of   Partnership in Music may be considered idealistic and it may not necessarily find its full reflection in reality.  However, in my personal struggle I sometimes console myself with the thought that even the Decalogue with its Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery or  Thou shalt not steal quite often fails to reflect the actual relations between people.  Following my private Decalogue, I have been calling and promoting in my practice,  “Thou shalt be a partner”, for more than half of a century now, and yet “Be an accompanist” is what I still hear much too often! And not only in music!

31. Teaching partnership

          Every person learns the wisdom of partnership by himself, on his own account, all life long. But I assert that the professional basis for musical partnership and its psychological determinants – like anything else, except for talent – can be taught. This is exactly what I am trying to prove by my work at the Academy. I do not, strictly speaking, teach students how to play the piano; instead, I teach the profession and, above all, partnership. Intentionally and with commitment.

          I try to make my young students aware – usually with a positive result – that ensemble performance is on par with individual performance, in terms of professional requirements and artistic expectations. I persuade them that one is an artist when playing alone as well as when playing with another musician. The only difference between artists is their talent and level of professional perfection.

          I also try to instill in them the conviction that when they become fully-fledged artists in the future, working primarily as ensemble musicians (and teachers), they will have all the necessary conditions to do so with satisfaction and without frustration, a feeling of degradation or a sense of having been wronged by fate. Indeed, it seems impossible to overestimate this psychological aspect of the partnership.

          A few words about the special professional situation of pianists. The piano belongs to the small group of instruments (organ, harpsichord, accordion, orchestra) which make it possible for one musician to perform an entire work, with all of its elements. It's easy to imagine pianists whose careers will bring them worldwide fame without any singing, playing, or conducting partners.

          There is no doubt that all other musicians are dependent on the pianist. In fact, a sizeable proportion of the concert activity of instrumentalists, those who play string instruments in particular, would be impossible without the participation of a partnering pianist. How many programs consisting of solo pieces for violinists or cellists could be put together? The situation of vocalists is even more drastic, as they would be unable to build a single recital on capella pieces alone.

It should also be kept in mind that teaching any musicians, especially singers, would be difficult to imagine without a pianist.

          This places special demands on the education of pianists. Professional instrumental perfection is something absolutely obvious, and the effort to achieve it should be continued, without exception, until graduation (and thereafter, throughout one's professional life!). Pianists should be prepared to meet the aforementioned requirements of partnership, professional and above all psychological, in various proportions throughout the entire period of their training, at least in secondary school and music academy (university).

          The need to instill the attitude in students that their value is determined only by the quality of their performance and not by whether they are ensemble players or soloists, together with the fact that only a minute percentage of them will go on to have careers as individual performers, makes the teaching of partnership all the more important.

          In this context, the failure to understand the artistic equality of solo and ensemble playing exhibited by a substantial portion of the pedagogic milieu is keenly regrettable, even embarrassing. They continue, openly or more stealthily, to transmit to their students a sense of contempt of ensemble performances, which they relegate to a lower category of art. In my view,  this attitude is reprehensible and unpardonable. This problem concerns all disciplines, not just the piano.

          At this point, I must pay tribute to enlightened members of the artistic community who, understanding the professional equality and career importance of ensemble playing, have begun to participate in the “struggle to emancipate” the chamber performance. The evolution of these views and the readiness to correct them is among the most positive and promising phenomena in the world of classical music. The polarization of attitudes in this matter – provided that the irritation and aggression it engenders remain in check – has also had a creative effect as it stimulated the search for optimal ideas and solutions. All of this has demonstrated that dialogue (not two monologues, which do not, after all, make a dialogue) is the most effective form of communication. I am filled with joy to see it.

        So as to avoid any misunderstandings, I want to emphasize once more that I consider instrumental perfection and the pursuit thereof to be a sine qua non of success and prime values in the ensemble as well as individual performance.

           Here is something along the lines of my pedagogic credo:

          There are two kinds of musical performance: individual (soloist) and ensemble (chamber). Every musician can perform both types of music, though in different proportions, depending on their own choice and other conditions.

          It is the duty of the Academy (University) - for the good of Art and the student, the object of our efforts -  to provide optimal training in both types of performance to all students of the performing arts.

          Experts in individual and ensemble performance should teach each type of these two forms of performance. In the case of orchestra instrumentalists and singers, the same professors can play this role; in the case of pianists, in view of the importance of the problem and its particular character, there is a justified need to provide two different instructors. This necessity, depending on honesty and artistic responsibility together with professional preferences does not exclude in exceptional cases the possibility to train in both,   solo and chamber music, by one pedagogue. 

          A basic – perhaps the most important – duty of a chamber performance instructor, apart from teaching the fundamentals of cooperation, is teaching respect for this type of performance.

          The reason for the weakness of ensemble performers, including orchestra musicians and all types of pianist-teachers, lies not in the profession itself but in the psychological sphere and professional attitudes. The standards of preparation for soloist and ensemble pieces should be identical; in reality, these standards differ drastically, to the detriment of chamber performance. I dare say that this is a negative characteristic and weakness of the present-day culture of ensemble playing.

          It is untrue that weak performers of chamber music have not been sufficiently prepared for playing this kind of music. They simply do not prepare themselves well. In general, they work on Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata in a different way than on his Kreutzer Sonata; they treat Schubert’s Impromptu differently than his Lieder, they approach Paganini’s Caprices in one way and his orchestra parts in another. Only when asked if they would dare present a solo piece to a professor or perform it on stage without any preparation do they react with embarrassment.  But this is how ensemble music is performed all too often.

          During the several decades of my pedagogic activity, I have never come across a "disinclination" to ensemble playing. However, I have often encountered catastrophically inadequate ensemble skills among pianists and their singing and instrumentalist partners.

Instead of playing many chamber pieces, it is much more effective and useful to master only a few pieces during one's studies to serve as a pattern and point of reference for all pieces that will be prepared individually in the future.

          In the case of teaching pianists, terms such as “accompanist” and “accompaniment” should be avoided. These terms are archaic and anachronistic, and often generate associations that are neither creative nor positive. The division into “chamber music” and “accompaniment” is also misleading, even scholastic.

          A pianist, whether playing alone or with another musician, should always be called a “pianist” – just as a violinist, whether playing in an orchestra or standing in front of an orchestra, playing alone or in a duo, always remains a “violinist”.

 The more universal descriptions:  INDIVIDUAL (SOLO) PERFORMANCE and ENSEMBLE (CHAMBER) PERFORMANCE are closer to the truth. Likewise, the relationship between ensemble artists should be described as PARTNERSHIP and not SOLOIST-ACCOMPANIST.

          The creation of specializations is an unnecessary, perhaps even harmful construction of artificial structures.  Instead of specialization, it is fundamentally important to teach respect for ensemble performance and to inculcate the imperative of adhering to the highest standards in the preparation, regardless of the type of performance it is for.

           The Academy - which has university status, thus unrestricted horizons when it comes to thought  – should educate artists, not produce vocational school graduates. Throughout the entire course of their studies, all music students should be trained equally in both individual and ensemble performance, at the most demanding level. In essence, a graduate receives a minimum level of skills in soloist and chamber performance, as well as professional consciousness. This forms a foundation that should enable him to make initial decisions as to various specializations and other choices in life.

          Efforts should be made to offer a wider range of courses for pianists at the Academy, particularly with respect to ensemble performance.  I suggest that such subjects be offered as score reading, counterpoint, elements of composition, conducting, and even voice emission. In my view, it would be crucial for any future decisions concerning specialization, further development of one’s talent, and also for making university courses more student-friendly, and enhancing any individualized education plans. (Bachelor's Programme and Master's Programme). 

The Collaborative Pianist vs The Collaborative Partner

          In English-speaking countries, the term collaborative pianist has been cultivated for quite a long time, assumedly to replace the earlier hegemony of the term accompanist.

          This is undoubtedly a positive step towards progress, in view of the long-standing backward concept of calling the pianist who performs with another performer just an accompanist, regardless of the repertoire. In fact, the echoes of these absurdities continue to resound to this day, even in the leading music hubs of the world. Only a few years ago,  I heard in New York the word accompanist in relation to a pianist who co-performed the Piano Quintet!!

          I confess that I oppose the notion of the collaborative pianist, and absolutely opt for the collaborative partner. The collaborative pianist sounds to me like a  camouflaged performer of service that the pianist is obliged to deliver to the co-performer. The collaborative partner, or rather the collaborative partnership, defines the relationship of the performers as reciprocal.  In my perception, there are two fundamental types of relationships between people coexistence or inaction,  that function creatively only if they are mutual. These are friendship and partnership. I am not able to imagine a one-way friendship or partnership. They would be (or perhaps are?)  twisted and false.  Unfortunately, during my half-century-long association with ensemble playing involving the piano, not once have I encountered the term collaborative co-performer, which in my view is the only correct definition of the relationship with the pianist or, the collaborative singer, (violinist, cellist, etc.).  And since the collaborative pianist is non-reciprocal, perhaps its effect will also be twisted and false? 

          In my view, the Collaborative Partner is the only creative relationship between the pianist and the partner, whether the latter is an instrumentalist or a singer. It has never been a problem for me to realize that musical pieces are written for two performers, and not for a soloist and an accompanist. The value of performing a work composed for more than one musician depends on the professional skills and abilities of the performer. In Chopin's Polonaise for cello and piano, the so-called piano accompaniment, played by Martha, actually places the leading element of Mischa's cello in the background. This is undoubtedly the mystery of talent.

          I happened to come across a mockery on the part of an American author. He was ridiculing the expectation which in my opinion is entirely correct, namely that the singer has a duty to collaborate with the pianist as much as the pianist has a duty to collaborate with the singer. Dear Esteemed Author, he really has to do it, right from the very beginning of a song! I was easily able to convince my students and even participants in my in-master classes that a song does not begin with the singing but with the pianist. Indeed, I have yet to hear Gute Nacht initiated by a pianist, not by a singer, even if one of them was Alfred and the other Dietrich.

          In my view, the collaborative pianist in a duo performs a practical function supporting the non-pianist, while the collaborative partner directly participates in the joint artistic creation of both performers.

          Although I am aware that the subject sketched here would need,  well, maybe not a trilogy, at least an essay or a column, I decided to use my favorite, compact form presenting just facts and reflections, without any literary adornments. And besides, the old saying "a word is enough to the wise" still echoes in my head.