DENK, SCHWARTZ, SEBOK

Jeremy Denk wrote a piece in the current New Yorker about two of his piano teachers, one of whom we shared. A friend wrote to ask about my reaction, so I replied:

“Joseph Schwartz was really quite a terrific teacher, and invested in the idea of teaching on an individual level. We were all friendly in his studio and played for one another informally all the time. He had no cult of personality, and although his musicianship had virility and danger, he was a quiet man who acted as though all the great ideas were there for the taking. He exerted a quiet idealism that kept growing on you long after lessons stopped.

“Sebok gave a terrific master class at Eastman, and my teacher there, Rebecca Penneys, had worked with him in Indiana. He had that gentleman’s cigarette holder Denk describes , and every word he uttered seemed fragrant with possibility. I recognize much of his philosophy about motion and physicality from what Penneys taught. Sounds like an incurable eccentric with pedagogical limitations.

“I wish Denk’s piece had been longer…”

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