September 20, 2010


On my return home trip from Montpelier, Tawna and I were talking about the future of classical music, and what our own personal legacies might be. In the past, artists performed their own music: Bach wrote a new Cantata every week to perform each Sunday. Mozart wrote a new set of symphonies, concertos, sonatas, etc., for each job he applied for. Virtuosos like Paganini and Liszt's compositions are proof of their astounding technical prowess.

Performers usually play the work of others now. And I personally don't have a problem with that. There is enough repertoire out there that I will never be able to learn what has been written already, and I love listening to the works of composers of past ages. I love listening to them more than I love listening to most modern composers, to be frank.

So, what is my legacy going to be? As I told Tawna, I think mine will be narrow in scope, not one that will have any influence on the next one hundred years. Probably not in the next week, even! As far as leaving written evidence of the workings of my mind goes, I think that my hymn arrangements are my best representation. They may only get as far as the ward in which I perform them, but it fulfills a need. My legacy is a very practical one--just as I am a practical person, rather than a dreamer.

There's another legacy we didn't discuss yesterday--that of being a teacher. I am part of Julienne Slaughter's legacy, as well as a product of my current mentor, Geoffrey Trabichoff, and all of their former teachers. Since I quit teaching, I have felt sad for all of the students who would not get to take from me. Because violin playing didn't come easily to me, I think I am a better teacher than some violinists for whom everything came naturally. For instance, I had a terrible time learning vibrato. I think that the methods of teaching vibrato at the time weren't conducive to my physiology. What worked for most kids did not work for me. However, after a long time, and a lot of experimentation, I developed a wonderful vibrato. It's one of the best things about my playing, if I do say so myself. And because of that experience, and many years of working with students, I am an expert at teaching vibrato.

I'm itching to teach again. But this isn't a good time for me or my family. And any time I take to teach will take time away from practicing or composing. I'm not sure what legacy I want to leave, if I have to chose just one--but I must consider teaching as a most noble legacy as I consider the hundreds upon thousands of students who are and will have been the recipients of generous teachers such as Julienne and Geoffrey.

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