The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music education: What makes for a great and productive student-teacher relationship in music? Pianists Lang Lang and Gray Graffman answer that question for NPR. Plus, the memorial service for WYSO founder Marvin Rabin is today at 3.

December 29, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

It seems only fitting that today is a day to talk about music education.

After all, the memorial service for Marvin Rabin (below top), the founder and longtime music director and conductor of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will be held today at 3 p.m. in the new Atrium auditorium (below bottom, in a photo by Zane Williams) of the landmark First Unitarian Society, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, at 900 University Bay Drive, near UW Hospital and Clinics.

marvin rabin BW

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

Many young WYSO players will perform at the service and here is a link to a previous story with more about the memorial service, about WYSO and about Marvin Rabin.

So the question that lingers in the air is: What makes for a great teacher-student relationship between musicians?

Recently, NPR’s great lcassical music blog Deceptive Cadence got the young Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang (below top) and his much older former teacher Gary Graffman (below bottom, in a photo by Carol Rosegg) at the Curtis institute of Music, to talk about what makes for a great teacher-student relationship.

lang lang plain

Gary Grafman BIG profile cr Carol Rosegg

The dialogue interview meanders a bit, but it quite informative and even inspirational. It is particularly interesting for two reasons.

One is that Lang Lang seems to be simmering down in his annoying flamboyance and especially in his new release of piano concertos by Sergei Prokofiev and Bela Bartok with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (see the YouTube video at the bottom),  is focusing more on the music. For his part the 85-year-old Graffman, who, like Leon Fleisher, saw his big concert career undone by a major injury, is undergoing a rediscovery though the release of a box set of re-mastered recordings from decades ago.

Lang Lang Prokofiev Bartok CD cover

gary graffman box

Second, The Ear believes that Marvin Rabin had the same gift of being an inspiring teacher and seemed to share the right temperament and similar ideas with Gary Graffman.

So here is a link to the story, which I found better is listen to than to read in transcript:

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