Thanksgiving Day 2014.
Some years ago in New York City, I taught piano in Room 605 of the building that originally housed the Juilliard School of Music, before its move to Lincoln Center. The room had once been the studio of Olga Samaroff Stokowski (1880 – 1948), who gave lessons there to William Kapell, Rosalyn Tureck, Alexis Weissenberg, and many other musicians of note. There was no indication of the room’s illustrious history anywhere within that building, however. Only when my former Piano Literature professor, the erudite and witty Joseph Bloch, came for a visit one September afternoon, did he inform me which footsteps had preceded my own. He too, had taken his lessons in that room, with its sweeping views of Grant’s Tomb and the northern Hudson River. Madame Samaroff wrote down a musical Credo, in an undated letter to one of her pupils. It seems appropriate on this Thanksgiving Day 2014, to copy it here. For it reminds me of all the things I have to be grateful for, in my own life as a musician.
I believe in music as:
one of the loftiest forms of expression known to man.
a necessity in the spiritual life of man.
an endless source of pleasure that does not wane with the passing of time.
one of the things that can most powerfully stir and express the emotions of man.
a great enrichment of the imagination.
a social force possessing in the highest degree the power to induce states of mind that profoundly affect the character, the thoughts, and the actions of man.
So very much to be grateful for, on this day. Thank you, Madame Samaroff.