The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Pianist Frank Glazer, 98, will perform Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt and Barber when he returns to Farley’s House of Pianos this Sunday afternoon.

July 31, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

This Sunday afternoon, Farley’s House of Pianos will play host to a phenomenon.

That phenomenon is a critically acclaimed concert pianist who goes by the name of Frank Glazer.

Frank Glazer at the piano

Glazer is 98 and, after spending almost 60 years as a professional performer, he is still touring and still performing ambitiously big, even exhausting, programs. (Glazer discusses his past in YouTube video at the bottom.)

Consider the works Glazer will play in Madison this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Farley’s, located at 6522 Seybold Road, on the city’s far west side near West Towne, where he will no doubt perform on one of Farley’s wonderfully restored and historic Steinway concert grands (below).

Farley 1877 piano

The first half features two well-matched and complementary works: the dramatic Sonata in E Minor by Franz Josef Haydn coupled with the songful late Sonata in E Major, Op. 109, that uses both theme-and-variations and a fugue, by Ludwig van Beethoven plus Beethoven’s rarely heard Fantasy in G Major, Op. 77. There it is, the counterpoint teacher Haydn and his more famous student Beethoven.


Beethoven big

Then come the “Excursions” of the American composer Samuel Barber (below top) and two pieces (the beautiful “Petrarch Sonnet No. 104” and the “St. Francis Legend No. 1” by Franz Liszt (below middle), including Liszt’s concert paraphrase on Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” that The Ear is guessing is programmed to pay tribute to the bicentennial this October of the birth of  Verdi (below bottom).

Samuel Barber 2 composing

Franz Liszt photo 2

Verdi Giuseppe

Furthermore, by all accounts listening to Glazer does not require the listener to make but small allowances for his age.

True, Arthur Rubinstein concertized until 92 or 93, when he was almost completely blind. And Mieczyslaw Horszowski (below), the teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music of Murray Perahia and many other notable pianists, performed on his 99th birthday. (He died in 1993, just a month shy of his 101st birthday and gave his last piano lesson a week before his death.)

Mieczyslaw Horszowski

But they are all rare exceptions. For the most part it seems that by the 80s, performing careers have generally pretty much ended.

Good genes no doubt play a role in Glazer’s late life success. And so does exercise. Glazer (below) reportedly does yoga and practices the piano for several hours every day and usually stays active until 11 p.m. or so.

Frank Glazer

At 65, at a time when most professional people think of retiring, Glazer agreed to start his career as a mentor for piano students at Bates College in Maine, where he still lives.

If you Google “Frank Glazer” you will find a lot of things to read, almost all of them written with a sense of wonder and admiration or such a first-rate, devoted and long-lived professional musician.

frank glazer 2

On Sunday, there will be a pre-concert lecture at 4 p.m. by Tim Farley and a reception afterwards.

Tickets are $25, $30 at the door, and can be bought in advance or reserved at Farley’s and Orange Tree Imports on Monroe Street. For more information, call (608) 271-2626.

Here is a link to information at Farley’s website:

And here  are links to two good background stories, including one I did when he played in Madison in 2011, that has an interview with Glazer.’s-this-friday-night-to-perform-an-impressive-program-of-bach-mozart-beethoven-chopin-and-liszt/

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