My aspiration to become an engaging solo piano performer has always been accompanied by an equal desire to be an engaging and effective teacher. I believe that musical education goes beyond acquiring performance skills. It is a discipline that includes the development of personal character, a honing of organization and communication skills, and a comprehensive study of music history, theory, and literature. It also involves a holistic approach in music making and a contextual view of music in relationship to other branches of humanities. I strive to enrich each student’s life based on this philosophy.
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Pianist and Composer Robert Casadesus: Huit Études, Opus 28 and Toccata, Opus 40 (2012)
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972) was a world-renowned French concert pianist. His brilliant, fifty-year career took him to all corners of the world. Much has been written about his life and his enormous contribution, as a pianist and pedagogue, to the piano legacy. However, Casadesus was also a prolific composer. As was common in European musical training of his time, Casadesus studied harmony and composition at a conservatory (the Paris Conservatory, in Casadesus’s case). Although his composing career paralleled his performing career, it is an enigma why he did not promote his own compositions and publicly introduce himself as a composer until the 1940s. His output for solo piano, composed between 1916 and 1967, is particularly noteworthy. In quality, these works stand alongside works of Milhaud, Poulenc, Copland, and their contemporaries. Casadesus wrote expressively and intelligently for the piano, revealing a keen understanding of the physical demands and enormous color possibilities of the instrument.
This document highlights a selection of Casadesus’s piano music—Huit Études, Op. 28 and the Toccata, Op. 40—all showing a unique compositional voice, displayed in his use of form, tonality, texture, and rhythm, while sharing, to a certain extent, idioms of Ravel, Debussy, Les Six (particularly Milhaud and Honegger), Stravinsky, Villa-Lobos, and Prokofiev. Although the Toccata is relatively popular because of its required performance at the Casadesus Piano Competition (known since 1995 as the Cleveland International Piano Competition), the Eight Etudes of Op. 28 are less known, but equally attractive and valuable. Casadesus scholarship seems to have declined after his wife Gaby’s death in 1999, despite the efforts of his nephew Gréco Casadesus, who established and maintains the website www.robertcasadesus.com, and daughter Thérèse Casadesus Rawson, who is president of the Fountainebleau Association in the United States. The present document is the first in-depth study of the Huit Études and the Toccata, and may serve as a springboard for pianists searching for alternative repertoire of the mid-twentieth century worthy of teaching, research, and performance.
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A Tribute to Pianist and Pedagogue Olga Radosavljevich (2017)
On December 19, 2017, the well-known Cleveland piano pedagogue Olga Radosavljevich, and one my former piano teachers, celebrated her 80th Birthday. She has been on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music for nearly six decades. In honor of her birthday, I spent a few afternoons with her to write her biographical sketch. The result was published by the ClevelandClassical.com.