The master and the student

Gary Graffman with Yuja Wang October 2018

Over the years I’ve picked up the occasional album by pianist Gary Graffman, many of which were recorded in the 1960s and were therefore available at popular prices in the 1980s. He might still be recording today, were it not for this:

In 1977, he sprained the ring finger of his right hand. Because of this injury he began re-fingering some passages for that hand in such a way as to avoid using the affected finger. Unfortunately, this altered technique exacerbated the injury rather than ameliorating it, ultimately forcing him to stop using his right hand altogether by around 1979.

In 1980, he joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he’d studied decades before under Isabelle Vengerova; he was subsequently named director, and later President. He left the administrative posts in 2006, but continues to teach.

Yesterday being his 90th birthday, he got a visit from one of his prize students, the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, who studied with him from 2003 to 2008.

This is one of the Graffman recordings in my collection: Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, recorded with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1964.

In exactly that sleeve, I might add.

2 comments »

  1. Roger Green »

    16 October 2018 · 7:36 am

    It’s still Lenny year. My church choir (!st Pres ALB) is doing Chichester Psalms on November 2

  2. Leonard Bernstein; Oakroom Artists – 1st Pres | Ramblin' with Roger »

    24 October 2018 · 8:49 am

    […] Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Gary Graffman, piano, recorded with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1964. […]

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