Interview with pianist Jerome Rose by Gary R. Lemco

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Interview with pianist Jerome Rose by Gary R. Lemco

Post by Lance » Sun May 30, 2010 12:58 pm

Jerome Rose, pianist

“The Last Romantic Pianist” - An Interview with Jerome Rose
By Gary Lemco

I had the occasion to interview veteran pianist Jerome Rose (b. 1938) by telephone after having reviewed his all-Beethoven DVD on the Medici label. Associated with the Mannes School of Music, Rose insisted that I include the July 18-August 1 International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York City—now in its 12th season—as part of my copious notes.

GL: You were a pupil of Adolf Baller, a name virtually forgotten by today’s active pianists and concertgoers.

JR: Baller was associated with Stanford University, and he was the first to import the Bösendorfer as his chosen instrument. Baller remains among my most “transformative” of musical influences, along with people like Rudolf Serkin, Leonard Shure, and another forgotten name, that of Harold Logan, a pupil of another giant, Egon Petri. Logan fought against what he termed “institutional teaching,” which he considered the bane of artistic individualism. What I sought were musicians who were not interested--as are too many contemporary pianists--with sheer athleticism. I wanted mastery, not prowess.

GL: Baller had been tortured by the Nazis, his hands crushed, and he had to retrain himself.

JR: Not too many know those painful facts about Baller. You know, he became known for his work with Menuhin, but he helped form the Alma Trio, with the likes of Roman Totenberg, André Toth, and Maurice Wilk. Baller, too, lamented those keyboard personalities who become entertainers rather than artists. The latter continue with intellectual growth; they don’t dote on the public nor do they engage in ‘empire building’ for its own sake.

GL: You mean personalities like Karajan, of whom Haitink once quipped, “He is a great musician when he’s not busy building his empire.”

JR: You ought to acquaint your self with the efforts of Valery Gergiev. Karajan appears a mere amateur when it comes to self-promotion, where Gergiev is concerned. But when it comes to careers, it is all very political, and careers are a strange and tightrope topic. Look at someone like Roy Bogas, a gifted Baller pupil. Whatever became of him?

GL: You’ve got me there. But you were a contemporary of artists like William Kapell and Julius Katchen, yes?

JR: I deeply admired William Kapell. When Europeans claim Americans have no real virtuosos or sincere pianists, I have them audition anything played by Kapell. As for Julius Katchen, I knew him quite well in London, especially near the end, when the prostate cancer was already killing him. He said he wanted to spend time with his son, that he did not want more time to pass without some stronger bond between them.

GL: You played at Marlboro in Vermont, yes?

JR: Rudolf Serkin invited me to come to Marlboro, and I played with likes of Hermann Busch, the brother of Adolf Busch. I felt I was a recipient of a tradition that extended back into something like “authentic” nineteenth century music-practice. I also recall performing the Franck Piano Quintet. . .

GL: That’s a coincidence! A student of mine, as part of my Advanced Placement Lit Class, just investigated this piece as part of the “humanities” portion of my course sequence.

JR: Dang! Why aren’t you teaching in New York?

GL: Well, I go where I get paid; although Leon Botstein at Bard College once made some overtures. . .

JR: Nope. There’s only room for one superstar where Leon is concerned.

GL: How about yourself? What are your upcoming projects?

JR: Four of the later Schubert sonatas, from the G Major through the three opus posthumous, are waiting for my recording. Do you include films in your literature surveys?

GL: Yes, as a matter of fact I run a film club at my high school.

JR: You know, there’s a movie I am really fond of. It’s a boxing movie with Robert Ryan, and the gangsters break his wrists or something when he doesn’t throw a fight. . .

GL: You mean The Set Up, directed by Robert Wise (1949), with Audrey Totter and Alan Baxter.

JR: Hey, that’s pretty good. I love Robert Ryan. A master. I love all mastery, and I tire of superficiality.

GL: I hear you loud and clear. ♫

Dr. Gary R. Lemco is a regular contributor to
Classical Music Guide. He resides in California.

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Re: Interview with pianist Jerome Rose by Gary R. Lemco

Post by Seán » Sun May 30, 2010 1:35 pm

That is an interesting piece I was particularly taken with his comments on HvK and the comparison with Gergiev.

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

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Re: Interview with pianist Jerome Rose by Gary R. Lemco

Post by MarkC » Sun May 30, 2010 10:45 pm

Thanks for posting it, Lance.

Years ago I had the great opportunity not only to hear Jerome Rose play the Brahms D minor Concerto, but also........
The night before, he dropped in on a master class given by a friend of his in that town, and I happened to be there. He joined in hearing some of us play, then (at my suggestion and request......actually demand) :) played the last movement of the Brahms, with his friend playing the orchestra part on a second piano.

I also have two friends who studied with Adolf Baller. He'll never be forgotten as far as they're concerned, nor I.

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