Saturday, January 18, 2014

So Much to Think About

Yesterday I attended the funeral for a superb clarinetist who, at age 80, first enrolled in the people-oriented Chamber Music program I coordinated at Mannes for over 35 years.  Over the years I had developed an unwritten rule, to discourage if not downright refuse participation on the part of individuals above a certain age who played treble instruments--violin, say, or clarinet.   Their traditional role as leader of the ensemble plus the sheer wealth of their experience customarily made it difficult for younger players to enjoy their company.

But this man was different.  The moment he picked up his clarinet to play before the assembled would-be-partners everyone wanted to play with him.  His sound embodied generosity.

It was true that he had played "all" the music in the repertoire, but only up to and not including the 20th century.  And so began a wonderful exploration of music by composers totally new to him and, most often, to the coaches as well.   He stayed in the program for several years, on occasion playing such traditional repertoire as Beethoven's Op. 11 Trio for clarinet, cello, and piano.  Once he participated in a fund-raiser playing Mozart 's Clarinet Quintet with a group of professional strings.  I will never forget his playing of those "standards" for which he set a new standard of warmth.

Julien Ander died at the age of 96 having enjoyed and shared many years of the best kind of music-making.  Thank you, Julien.