Friday, November 25, 2005

The Seminar Will Meet Again

Not that of Jacques Lacan (about which we'll have more to say shortly), but of another great French pedagogue of sorts: Alfred Cortot.

Around and about the same time that Lacan was delivering his famous lectures on psychoanalytic theory at St-Anne Hospital in Paris in the 1950's, Alfred Cortot was busy with a series of his own at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Cortot's classes were, surprisingly enough, recorded by a young engineering student from 1954 to 1961. These have been collected, edited, and reintroduced on a 3 CD set by none other than pianist Murray Perahia. (The link takes you to Sony website for the CD collection. Does nobody pay attention to details? The site invites you to "sign-up" for Cortot's latest tour dates and news. Good grief!).

There is a very interesting write-up about both the collection and Cortot's classes in the Boston Globe by Richard Dyer. Dyer, who attended the classes, provides an interesting glimpse:

"Cortot demanded that a student submit a written analysis of any piece he wanted to play. The pianist, a tiny, elegantly turned-out man, would begin by discussing those analyses; then he would listen to the students play. Finally he would comment on what he had heard, illustrating his points at the piano, sometimes offering lethal imitations of what he didn't want to hear -- and just had. His voice was melodious, his intellect formidable; he was simultaneously intuitive and spontaneous. "

Read the rest here.

A very, very, short excerpt of his remarks/teaching on the Chopin Ballade no1 can be heard here.

You can listen to early 20th century recording of Cortot playing Handel's "Harmonious Blacksmith" and Albeniz' "Malaguena" on this fine site dedicated to the art of Cortot.

And Lacan? He has provided loads of material of the various cottage industries of academe. Lacan's words are also the text for a work by composer Nathan Michael.

See him on tv here.

And music?

It is the dreamwork which does not think.

1 comment:

Josh in SF said...

Great blog! Thanks for the tip about the Cortot.