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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000337.txt from 2004/08

From: "Blake Arrington" <klarinetteman@-----.com>
Subj: FW: [kl] Abe Galper
Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 00:49:21 -0400

I didn't know if this made it to the list, but it definitely needed to.

Thanks for the wonderful email Michael.

>From: <mrusinek@-----.net>
>Reply-To: klarinet@-----.org
>To: <klarinet@-----.org>
>Subject: [kl] Abe Galper
>Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2004 23:23:56 -0500
>
>August 11, 2004
>
>It was with indescribable sadness that I learned today of Abe's passing. I
>received a phone call as my girlfriend Nancy and I were driving from Napa
>Valley, where we had just performed, to the Santa Fe chamber festival,
>where
>we are about to perform.
>
>After many miles of sadness and silence, Nancy and I started to talk about
>Abe; his life, his family, his musicianship, and his legacy. (Nancy is the
>principal bassoonist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Although she wasn’t able
>to
>go with me a few weeks ago, she has had the good fortune of meeting both
>Abe
>and Charna on a few visits she has made with me from Pittsburgh to Toronto.
>She also got to know him through many of my anecdotes.) I would like to
>share
>a few thoughts that Nancy and I talked about today, as outside of my
>parents,
>Abe certainly had a more profound impact on my life than anybody.
>
>I began studying with Abe at the age of ten. Initially, he was reluctant.
>But
>agreed to teach me after some not so gentle prodding from my mother. I
>studied with him continuously until I left for Curtis when I was 19. Even
>after Curtis, even after joining the National Symphony, even after joining
>the Pittsburgh Symphony, he continued to shape my playing on my regular
>visits to him. Whenever I would play for him, he had an uncanny ability to
>diagnose problems and pinpoint areas of my playing that needed attention.
>(Always, it was back to basics.)
>
>The devotion that I felt coming from both Abe and Charna for the past 25
>yrs
>was unwavering. He and Charna came to every performance. Even my
>appearances
>at the local Kiwanis competitions would be attended, and then dissected at
>my
>next lesson. When my performances required travelling out of town, both
>Charna and Abe would be there. On one occasion, when my parents weren't
>able
>to, driving me to a competition at the Oberlin conservatory south of
>Cleveland. They even shared their hotel room with me when they discovered
>that my accommodations in the dormitory were too warm to be conducive to
>performing well. During the summer of 1987, he and Charna shared their
>journey to Israel with me as well. I went with them in order to prepare for
>the 1987 Belgrade competition. His devotion became his family's when, first
>his daughter Chaya, and then his niece Ruth housed me and took care of me
>for
>2 months. His devotion required devotion on my part as well. Quitting my
>junior soccer and hockey career in order to avoid injury and foregoing
>summer
>jobs in order to practice were insisted upon. My lessons were exercises of
>devotion in themselves. Often they were marathon lessons, lasting up to 2
>hours. Charna would thankfully come to my rescue by knocking on the door
>and
>telling Abe that enough was enough. At that point I would always be invited
>into the kitchen, where I was made to drink a glass of milk ("milk gives
>you
>good tone") and offered some of Charna's delicious goodies. This would be
>repeated not just once a week, but later in my high school career, three
>times a week. Don't get me wrong, the lessons were tough. Questions such as
>"Did you practice this, this week?" had no good answer, and I also learned
>that the answer to the question "How are your reeds?" should be "good",
>lest
>I be told, with a chuckle, that when you practice a lot, you don't have bad
>reeds. The lessons were tough, but fair, and I took deep pride when all
>that
>took place after playing an etude was a turn of the page followed by him
>saying "…next".
>
>Although I met Abe after he left the Toronto Symphony, I still got to hear
>him play, in recital, on records, and in lessons. It was the playing in
>lessons that was most impressive. Even very recently I would hear him in
>his
>studio and be totally incredulous at the refinement and control with which
>he
>could still play. To this day, when I think of how the clarinet should
>sound,
>I think of his sound.
>
>All of this has made me feel like I never stopped having an active teacher.
>It helped that when Abe would call, his messages on my machine began with,
>"Hello, it's your teacher calling.." When I won the audition for the
>Pittsburgh Symphony, the first call I made from backstage was to Abe.
>Parenthetically, I say “Abe”. But even as I write this it seems odd to say.
>It was always Mr. Galper. I spoke to Charna and she told me that he was in
>the hospital and that I should call him there. I did so, and in a tired
>voice, he began to question me about the audition. "What did you have to
>play?"
>I told him.
>When the list came to Prokofiev's 5th symphony. He inquired "Which
>fingering
>did you use for the high F#?"
>I told him.
>"...Of course!" came his reply. My next conversation with him started with
>something I never thought I would hear. "You have a big job now, you can
>call
>me Abe". I laughed to myself. That was never going to happen.
>
>There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about or put into
>practice
>lessons that I learned from him. Whether it is in my playing or my
>teaching,
>his influence is abundantly clear. I can often hear his voice as I talk to
>my
>students, most of the time quoting him directly. And so, as Nancy and I
>were
>driving today, and I kept an endless stream of Galperisms flowing, a smile
>came over my face and warmth in my heart. And I realized that although I am
>no longer able to go to him for advice, or to share stories, his sound I
>will
>carry with me forever.
>
>Thank-you for listening….
>
>Michael Rusinek
>
>
>
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>
J. Blake Arrington
Graduate Student--University of North Texas
Principal Bass & Eb Clarinet--Irving Symphony Orchestra

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