All my teachers and mentors meant (and will always mean) a great deal to me personally. I learned music from all of them and, in the process, I learned about myself too.
I wish to summarize just a few thoughts about my learning experiences while paying homage to the important people that shaped my musical journey. It is impossible to list all the wonderful musicians I have interacted with and I will simply mention something about those with whom I worked extensively. Often, I also learned a great deal from encounters with several other pianists including Murray Perahia, Boris Slutsky, Rudolf Firkušný, Jörg Demus, Joaquin Achucarro, and Peter Lang, but these were only sporadic occasions to ponder about my work in master classes or lessons.
When I moved from Italy to the USA, I worked intensely with the American icon, pianist, and conductor Leon Fleisher (1928). His teaching undoubtedly left a most vivid impression upon me and his mentorship made the deepest impact during my later musical development. It is not possible to enlist most of what I remember about Fleisher’s teaching but I can clearly see one phase of my evolution as a musician before meeting him and a very different one after having worked with him. In a sense, he taught me “how” to read a score like a conductor. This seems naive, yet previously my readings lacked a thoughtful understanding of what belongs to what in terms of grouping a given music material. That terrific lesson helped me to confer a purpose to what happens between the notes and among the notes. This is how I would express, in essence, the importance of the trajectory I explored with Leon Fleisher during my mid- and late twenties. As a complete musician (pianist, conductor, chamber musician, and teacher) he is inspiring and able to able to deeply delve into what music is about. Mostly he infused upon me, even more, a true and genuine love for music and its essence.
✅ LEON FLEISHER’S LINEAGE:
A. SCHNABEL ➡️ T. LESCHETIZKY ➡️C. CZERNY ➡️ L. VAN BEETHOVEN
Leon Fleisher also studied with MARIA CURCIO and KARL ULRICH SCHNABEL.
Previously, in Italy, I studied for several years with two Russian concert pianists: Lazar Berman (1930-2005) and Boris Petrushansky (1949). From Berman, I learned some concepts of sound quality simply by watching and listening to him “singing” at the piano. He is the Caruso of the piano for me and it was bewildering to hear his amazing array of colors. I learned a great deal about character and structure from him.
✅ LAZAR BERMAN’S LINEAGE:
A. GOLDENWEISER ➡️ TANEYEV
The lineage of Berman’s teacher, one of Russia’s historical figures, Goldenweiser, is particularly interesting. Goldenweiser studied with V. SAFONOFF and the latter worked both with T. LESCHETIZKY (whose legacy, again, is traced back to Beethoven via Carl Czerny), N. ZAREMBA, as well as L. GRASSIN who was a student of I. MOSCHELES. Yet, Lazar Berman also studied (perhaps less regularly?) with three prominent concert pianists: M. YUDINA, S. RICHTER, who was a student of the great S. NEUHAUS, and V. SOFRONITSKY. In particular, Neuhaus was himself a student of F. Blumenfield who had worked with R. Korsakov and F. Stein. Neuhaus was also a student of K. Szymanowsky and Michailowski (the latter having studied with both Moscheles, Reinecke and Caccius). Finally, SOFRONITSKY studied with SHOSTAKOVICH and M. YUDINA (Berman, as indicated before, also took some lessons from the latter). M. Yudina’s lineage can be traced back to TANEYEV (via L. NIKOLAIEV), F. BLUMENFIELD, and even BEETHOVEN (having studied with ANNA YESIPOVA, herself from the school of T. LESCHETIZKY).
Boris Petrushansky was a very imaginative teacher and when I first met him I was impressed with the ways he would convey his musical thoughts by means of an incredible number of words in Italian! He often showed up to the lessons with a dictionary because he felt that he needed a very specific word in translation from Russian and he would not content himself with just any words since everything he wished to convey had to be very specific! He was as inspirational as he was detailed in his colorful descriptions.
✅ BORIS PETRUSHANSKY’S LINEAGE:
- S. NEUHAUS
- L. NAUMOV (assistant of Neuhaus)
- I. LEVINA
I also learned a great deal from the German concert pianist Alexander Lonquich (1960) who opened my eyes to so many facets of music-making primarily because of his vast culture, an innate ability to connect all types of artistic creations, and his inter-related activities as pianist, chamber musician, and conductor. Lonquich is such a complete musician that he could only set the bar very high for me.
✅ ALEXANDER LONQUICH’S LINEAGE:
- PAUL BADURA
- ANDRZEJ JASINSKI
- ILONKA DECKERS-KUESZLER
I also cannot forget my Italian teachers Franco Scala (1937) and Giuseppe Fricelli (1948). I only worked about one year with Scala but I learned a great deal about my shortcomings and also regarding the tension of a musical line and the rapport between the details in a given piece and how they must always be part of the whole.
✅FRANCO SCALA’S LINEAGE:
- C. ZECCHI
- G. M. CARMIGNANI
Carlo Zecchi had studied with both F. BUSONI and A. SCHNABEL while G. M. Carmignani was a student of A. CASELLA who, himself, had worked with both Rossini’s favorite pianist, L. DIEMER (one of the fathers of the French School) as well as G. FAURE’.
Giuseppe Fricelli was officially my first teacher for seven years and I owe him a lot. He is a musical person and an indefatigable one: I owe him a lot and I still recognize certain traits of his in myself in a sense.
✅GIUSEPPE FRICELLI’S LINEAGE:
- ➡️ P. R. NARDI ➡️ E. CONSOLO ➡️ G. SGAMBATI ➡️ F. LISZT ➡️ C. CZERNY ➡️ L. VAN BEETHOVEN