GO EAST YOUNG MAN

Once I told Piatigorsky that I was going to move to NY city to continue my music studies he never called on me to play in his master class again (he would always choose who and when students would play.) My mom, seeing the situation, made me an offer. Previously, her attempts to help me with anything cellistic were not successful. She suggested to me that since I was going to NY, where classical music was much more prevalent than LA, it would be helpful if she took me through some of the cello repertoire I hadn't yet studied. I studied several important works with her for about 6 months (Schelomo was one of her specialties.)

And she took me to concerts. I still remember when the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by George Szell, performed in Glendale. The Shrine auditorium, where the LA Philharmonic performed, was for some reason reserved only for the LA Phil. Perhaps this was because the LA Phil, especially in those days, was vastly inferior to the great orchestras on the East Coast. They performed Hindemith's "Symphonic Metamorphosis," a work I had heard performed by the LA Phil. The precision of the playing was way beyond anything I had heard in person; I had just assumed that the string parts had to be faked.

Next, she took me to a concert of the Bach Aria Group. They were a magnificent ensemble, superstar singers and musicians. Their cellist was Bernard Greenhouse, who studied with Felix Salmond, at the same time as my mom. Bernie was a close friend/colleague of my mom. The group played beautifully and Greenhouse's performance of this repertoire was elegant. He was a fine cellist. At the conclusion of the concert, my mother took me backstage (I think this may have been all pre-arranged.) Bernie was very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in me. He took out his Strad and let me play on it! [He also told me a most amusing story about some woman who had come backstage after one of his performances and asked him the all-too-common question, "What kind of cello do you play?" When Greenhouse beamed and told her it is a Stradavarius she exclaimed, "No Wonder!"]

After playing for him, my mom suggested I ask Bernie about some difficulties I was having with my vibrato. Greenhouse carefully gave me a very detailed, analytic explanation of some of his theories of this all-important technique. I was particularly taken with the analytic part of it because Piatigorsky, for whatever great talents he may have possessed, was a "natural," and did not have the ability to communicate and explain many things about cello technique. I decided, I think on the spot, that I wanted to study with him. He told me that he taught at SUNY Stonybrook, Hartt College, and Manhattan School of Music, and that he would see what he could do. Within a short period of time, I was accepted, on full scholarship, to Manhattan School of Music.

When I arrived in NYC, I stayed with my brother for about a week, until I found housing, with two musician/roommates, on Claremont Avenue, near 125th and Broadway. This wasn't too convenient, since MSM was then located on the East Side, 103rd St. and 2nd Avenue. It was quite a schlep, with my cello and briefcase, involving two buses. On one occasion, I was attempting to exit the bus, with a heavy cello and briefcase, when I literally fell out the door, landing in the snow with all my schleppings. The bus pulled out, never noticed me.


Go East Young Man
Mr B, the Duke and Me
Grandpa Grisha
A Perfect Pitch Diversion
Banging My Head On My Pillow
All content © 2020 Frederick Zlotkin