University of California Berkeley
Western Jewish History Center
Judah Magnes Museum
DEAN OF TANGLEWOOD (1946 - 1964)
PIANO SOLOIST, ACCOMPANIST AND TEACHER
ADMINISTRATOR AND LECTURER
An Interview Conducted by
1989 - 1991
Copyright 1991 by the Western Jewish History Center
Judah Magnes Museum
TABLE OF CONTENTS
GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SHEET
INTERVIEWER'S INTRODUCTION 1
The Curtis Institute 1
Student Years 1
Faculty Years 3
The Visual Arts 4
The Barnes Foundation 5
Influences and Mediums 5
His Early Years 6
Touring Together 7
Executive Assistant to Koussevitzky 8
Becoming Dean of Tanglewood 1
The Departments 11
Background of the General Area 1 2
Eleanor Roosevelt 13
On the Faculty 1 3
Song Repertoire Department 13
The Faculty Board 14
Duties as Dean 1 5
The Artists 16
Making the Recordings 17
LIVE PERFORMANCE 18
"A TELEPHONE CALL" 1 9
ONLY GOOD MUSIC 20
The Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra 22
The June Music Festival 23
TEACHING PIANO 24
LOOKING BACK 25
"Would You Do It Again?" 25
Artistic Temperment 26
WORLD WAR II 27
Working in a War Factory 27
Touring Difficulties 28
Plight of the Jewish People 28
PHOTOS, PAINTINGS AND OTHER WORKS 29
PROGRAM FROM EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
TEN YEARS AT TANGLEWOOD
WHAT EVERY ACCOMPANIST KNOWS
LETTER FROM LOS ANGELES
ORIGINAL MUSIC FOR FOUR HANDS
RALPH BERKOWITZ-HE'S WORN MANY HATS
INTERVIEWER'S BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
ST JOHN'S COLLEGE
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO 87501-4599 (505) 982-3691
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND 21404 (301) 263-2371
FAX (505) 989-9269
January 10, 1991
Ralph Berkowitz is an extraordinary musician and teacher who has, over
the years, championed musical interpretations which are direct and
unaffected. He has shown me--and many other musicianswhat such
unidiosyncratic readings of masterworks might reveal. He has urged us to
reconsider our quirky rubatos in favor of a noble straightforwardness,
to moderate our immoderate tempi, to soften the prolonged and deadening
loudness that tempts the enthusiastic pianist. Paites simplelike
Escoffier, Mr. Berkowitz knows that simplicity is the mark of highest
His bearing is equally rare and fine. By his warmth, generosity, and
largeness of spirit he shows himself to be not of the current world of
musicians, who are too often rather narrow and not possessed of the
depth of soul needed to bring the great masterworks to life again. In
his teaching, particularly, he combines keen criticality with the
support iveness and sympathy that encourages and enables. Both through
his present example and his marvellous recordings he shows forth the
soul of musical art and of warm humanity.
Peter D. Pesic
St. John's College
Santa Fe, New Mexico
GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SHEET
Name of interviewee: Ralph Berkowitz
Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York
Date of birth: September 5, 1 91
Mother's father: Kalman
Place of birth: Romania
Name of mother: Matilda
Place of birth: Bucarest, Romania
Date of birth: 1886
Name of father: William
Place of birth: Roman, Romania
Date of birth: 1883
Date of first marriage: 1 932
Place of marriage: Philadelphia
Name of spouse: Freda
Place of birth: New Jersey
Date of birth: 1910
Children: Ellen and Joan
Dates of birth: 1 935 and 1 941
Date of second marriage: June 1 7, 1 965
Place of marriage: Albuquerque
Name of spouse: Beth
When did the first member of your family come to this country?
My father's brother came first in 1907 from Romania. My
father joined him in 1908 in New York City where he met my
Why did that person come? To look for a better life.
My high school chorus teacher in Albuquerque, George Collear, had
mentioned Ralph Berkowitz to me several times and always with high
praise. However, it was only after attending college for a couple of
years in California and returning to Albuquerque that my curiosity
about him was piqued by observing the tremendous progress of one
of his students who was an acquaintance of mine. At that time (about
1973), I contacted Mr. Berkowitz about lessons. I studied with him
approximately three months and then returned to northern California.
During that summer I felt I had learned more about piano than I had in
the previous fifteen years. Mr. Berkowitz's encouraging, positive
approach as well as his emphasis on technique and unaffected
interpretation quickly improved my playing and made me want to
teacn piano which I have enjoyed doing since that time. I continue to
take lessons from him whenever I visit Albuquerque.
After studying oral history for a semester with Elaine Dorfman at Vista
College in Berkeley, I decided Mr. Berkowitz was an ideal subject to
interview. We began work in his lovely home in July of 1989. The
interview took place in his spacious hvingroom near his beautiful
grand piano. The lid is kept down and is covered with inscribed
photographs of musicians that Mr. Berkowitz has worked with and
come to know over the years. The walls are covered with oil paintings,
mostly his own work. It is a room that I had been in many times before,
but always at the piano. It seemed odd to be sitting in an easy chair
across from my teacher. My inexperience as an interviewer made me
nervous, but I soon became totally engrossed in Mr. Berkowitz's
narration. His experience as a lecturer was evident in his delivery and
made my subsequent editing job very easy.
Several months later I persuaded him to allow me to photograph his
art work and photos to use along with the material gathered in the
interview. All the photos were under glass which made them difficult to
photograph. I also tried to take pictures and record his comments at
the same time. This resulted in the tape not being turned soon
enough and so some commentary was missed. Consequently, I was
delighted when my friend Julia Eastberg, a painter and photographer,
was able to visit Mr. Berkowitz with me in May of 1 991 . She reshot
some of the photos and pictures for me while I recorded the narration
that had been lost during our previous session.
When I first began this project I had only a vague idea of Mr.
Berkowitz's career. It has been a privilege to find out about his many
and diverse accomplishments which he related to me with genuine
modesty. I am honored that we have become friends through this
process and that I have come to know him more fully not only as a
marvelous musician, but as an engaging conversationalist whose
depth of thought is counterbalanced by his lively sense of humor.
Copies of this transcript are available for examination at the Judah
Magnes Museum in Berkeley and at the Regional Oral History Office
at U.C. Berkeley. The tapes are housed at the Judah Magnes
Museum including a tape of Mr. Berkowitz's transcription of "Carnival
of the Animals" for two pianos as performed at a concert given in
honor of his eightieth birthday. Preceding each movement Mr.
Berkowitz narrated the delightful verses that were composed for the
piece some years ago by Ogden Nash.
My name is Carolyn Erbele. It is the 7th of July 1989. I
am in the home of Ralph Berkowitz in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. We will be talking about his long career
as a classical musician.
The Curtis Institute
Would you tell me how you got started in music as a
I started like most children at the age of six or seven
and had the usual piano lessons, didn't like to
practice, and that's the end of it.
Did you have any teachers that you think were
particularly helpful to you?
Yes, I had a number of piano teachers, but when I
was about fifteen, I studied with Emil J. Polak, who
had been a student of Dvorak's in New York City, and
it was he who really made me feel that I should
pursue music. And it was because of him I went to an
audition at the Curtis Institute in 1928 when I was
eighteen. It was the first year that the Curtis
announced it would be an all-scholarship school.
That's why I tried out for it. They accepted me and I
graduated in '32, I believe, and then stayed on the
staff 'til 1940.
It must have been very helpful to have a scholarship
during the Depression years.
Berkowitz: Yes, as a matter of fact, the school had so much
money because of their endowment that many
students received a monthly stipend of eighty dollars,
which in those days was colossal. I became a staff
accompanist, so that paid also. And as I say, I stayed
In that year, Piatigorsky invited me to play with him
because his pianist, Valentine Pavlovsky, was a very
sick man. And so in 1940 that began a relationship of
C.E.: When you were at the Curtis Institute as a student,
were there other students there that were a big
influence on you?
Berkowitz: Well, we made very good friends, of course, over the
years. There were pianists iike Jorge Bolet, Abbey
Simon and Eugene Istomin, Leonard Bernstein, other
students, like Gian-Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber,
many singers, conductors, composers. The school
attracted enormously gifted people. Since I was there
from '28 til '40, I had many friends and colleagues
who were lifelong friends.
C.E.: Who was your greatest teacher at the Curtis Institute?
Berkowitz: My piano teacher was Isabella Vengerova, and I was
much influenced by the English cellist, Felix Salmond.
He was one of the great musicians of this century. His
pupils, like Leonard Rose, Frank Miller, Samuel
Mayes, and Orlando Cole, became teachers and
influenced cellists right down to today, so that a great
cellist, like Yo Yo Ma, was a student of Leonard Rose
who was a student of Felix Salmond. The great
teacher produces great students who become great
C.E.: I notice that you've done a lot of accompanying in
your career. At what point did you decide you wanted
to spend time doing that?
Berkowitz: It was in my early years at the Curtis when I felt that
only practicing solo music wasn't what I really wanted.
I shifted over to the chamber music and to the
accompanying departments so that I played a greater
variety of music and, of course, met many faculty
Berkowitz: members such as Sembrich, de Gogorza and
Zimbalist. All together, it was a much more vivid and
energetic life than just practicing solo music, and I
never regretted that.
C.E.: Do you have a favorite instrument that you like to
Berkowitz: It's not the instrument so much; it's the music. There's
an enormous repertoire for violin and for cello, and of
course, for wind instruments, not to speak of the great
song repertoire which is endless. All of those
experiences for any young musician are extremely
important. They color your life as a professional.
That's what they did for me so that when I began
playing for Piatigorsky in 1 940, I had a large
background of chamber music and ensemble playing.
I notice that when you were on the faculty at the Curtis
Institute that you did vocal coaching, taught form and
analysis, and also directed a historical series of
The Historical Series was an interesting thing which I
inaugerated at the Curtis with my colleagues Joseph
Levine and Vladimir Sokoloff. We decided to make a
kind of living history of music each season so that in
ten or twelve concerts we could go from Corelli,
Vivaldi, Purcell and John Dowland right up to the
present times: Stravinsky, Hindemith and Bartok.
Students were organized to form ensembles or to
play solo works. It was an important thing, not only in
the school, but in Philadephia. As I said, there were
ten, maybe twelve concerts over the season. I also
wrote the program notes for it. It became an actual
demonstration of the history of music.
It sounds very exciting.
Berkowitz: It's good. Many schools probably do things like that.
C.E.: I notice you've done a number of lecture series during
Berkowitz: Yes, later on in Albuquerque I did a series on
television which went around the nation called "The
Arts." I think there were forty-five weeks of programs.
Each was an hour and dealt with some aspect of
painting or music, sometimes literature.
It also included interviews with artists who might be in
Albuquerque at the time. These were important things
for me because I had to prepare each one and speak
about paintings or etchings or lithographs or piano
music or whatever, quite knowingly. It's different than
reading a lecture on the radio where nobody sees
you, but on television you have to look as if you know
what you're talking about.
C.E.: What year did you make that series?
Berkowitz: Those must have been in the early sixties; they were
shown for a couple of seasons. I know they went to
Georgia, Minnesota, other states. It was before what
was known as public television. They were in black
I did other radio series, talks on this and that, and also
lectured in different places over the years. I like to do
that very much.
The Visual Arts
C.E.: In 1940 I see that you began painting.
C.E.: What stimulated that interest?
Berkowitz: Well, I loved painting as far back as I remember.
Living in New York City, of course, there are so
Berkowitz: many great museums and galleries. I went to them
just because I seemed to enjoy it, and then I began to
try drawing myself and painting. I just stuck to it so
that over the years I have produced more than 600
works in my catalog.
The Barnes Foundation
C.E.: Are you self-trained or did you . . .
Berkowitz: I'm self-trained, but I did go to one of the great
schools of America-of the world-the Barnes
Foundation. It was a collection made by Dr. Barnes,
and today it's simply one of the great places of the
world. Their collection of Renoir and Cezanne and
Matisse and Picasso, and many works from the past,
makes it wonderful.
I went there for three years, I believe-they had
classes and lectures. There was no school in the
sense that they taught anybody how to paint; nobody
worked there. But the contact with those pictures and
with the great lecturers was, for anybody who could
get in, very important. You couldn't just get in; you had
to go for an interview. They had to feel you were
serious about studying, and you had to stick with it.
Influences and Mediums
C.E.: What painter do you feel influenced you the most?
Berkowitz: Well, that's hard to say because I'm not a professional
painter, but nobody today can avoid the influence of
Picasso, and then Matisse and Cezanne, not to speak
Berkowitz: of the older great men like Manet, Monet and
Rembrandt and Velasquez and so on. In being a
painter or having any contact with art you have to
realize that you are in the shad9w of these immense
geniuses, and you work accordingly.
C.E.: I see on your wall a great variety of styles and
mediums. What's your favorite medium to work in?
Berkowitz: Well, I've worked in many mediums such as oil
painting and watercplors and pastels and woodcuts
and wood construction. It's more the kind of thing that
a person who's not in the profession can do because
you're not trying to prove anything except to yourself
so you do what you enjoy and what you want to
experiment with. That I've done for many years.
His Early Years
C.E.: I see you started touring with Mr. Piatigorsky the
same year that you started painting. Would you tell us
a little bit about him?
Berkowitz: Piatigorsky was a Russian cellist. He came out of
Russia when he was about eighteen, in Russia, he
was considered one of the most phenomenal talents,
and as a teenager, was the first cellist in the Bolshqi
Opera. He was enormously successful as an artist in
Russia, but he wanted to get out, as many Russians
did in those years, and he went--or escaped actually-
to Poland, and then later, to Berlin. Of course, he was
penniless, a simple, poor, penniless, Russian cellist.
He made his living playing in cafes.
One day, a musician who knew him very well went to
the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, Mr.
Furtwangler, and said, "You know that in Berlin right
Berkowitz: now, there's one of the greatest cellists you'll ever
And Furtwangler said, "Well, find him! Bring him to
me. I want to meet him."
So this man went to all the cafes he could think of, and
finally found Piatigorsky. "Come on. I want somebody
to hear you play.""
He played for Furtwangler. He was then nineteen or
twenty. On the spot. Furtwangler made him the first
cellist of the Berlin Philharmonic, and became like a
father to him. He had him play concertos with the
orchestra and let him travel giving concerts, and so
forth. That's how Piatigorsky made a tremendous
reputation in Europe. *
He came to America first in 1928, and by odd chance,
I heard his first American concert with the
Philadelphia Orchestra. I didn't know him until many
years later, but I remember the impression that this
giant of a man made then.
C.E.: How did you come to work with him?
Berkowitz: Well, I had met him at the Curtis. He was invited to be
on the faculty about 1 938. We had shaken hands and
had a word now and then, but his telephone call to me
in 1 940 came put of the blue. It was because his
pianist at the time was a sick man. He needed
someone to travel with so he invited me. We were
very close for many, many years.
C.E.: How much of the year did you spend touring with
Berkowitz: It varied. It varied much. Some years, we might play
from October through March-that would be a
Berkowitz: season. Some years much less because he didn't like
to travel, but over the years we played hundreds of
concerts. We made a tour to the Orient once which
included a month in Japan and we played in Korea
and the Philippine Islands, Saigon, Singapore, and
the Malaysian peninsula. We also travelled a lot in
Europe. We made a South American tour in
Venezuela and Columbia. We used to play in Mexico
a great deal. We were in Cuba almost every
year... Also Guatamala and Panama. We surely
played in every state in this country, lots in Canada.
We also made many records for Colombia and RCA
Victor. Many recordings.
C.E.: Were these tours exhausting or enjoyable or a
Berkowitz: In those days it wasn't as tiring, more or less, as it
would be today when travel is a very tough thing to do.
A lot of the time before airplanes were used we
travelled by train... It was just normal work. We'd
arrive in a city, usually where we had friends, and
spend a day or two that way, and then play, then go
on to another city. Altogether, as I look back on it, it
was very wonderful... Nothing not to like.
Executive Assistant to Koussevitzkv
C.E.: In 1 946 you became the executive assistant to the
famous conductor Koussevitzky of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra. How did you meet him?
Berkowitz: Well, he was like a father to Piatigorsky. Whenever we
played in Boston, of course, we were with
Koussevitzky. Koussevitzky was a legend. He
conducted the Boston Symphony for twenty-five
years. He made it one of the great orchestras of the
world and he formed what we know now as
Berkowitz: Tanglewood. Tanglewood was a summer festival of
the Boston Symphony, and along side of it was a
music school. It was Koussevitzky's idea to combine a
great school with a great festival.
He needed someone to make the school work on a
day to day basis. The members of the Boston
Symphony, the first desk men, were faculty members
of the school along with other faculty members who
were invited. My job, among other things, was to see
that the teaching schedule of the faculty worked in
relation to their obligations to the Boston Symphony.
Also the students who came--and they came from
around the world-were given chamber music
assignments and other work with faculty members, all
of which I organized.
So when you say, "How did it come about?", the then
assistant manager of the Boston Symphony, Thomas
Perry, had been a piano student of mine in
Philadelphia. We were very close friends.
Once in Boston he said, "You know, there's an
opening in Tanglewood. Would you like to work
I said, "No, no, no. I never sat behind a desk and I
have no way of knowing what to do in that
He said, "I didn't think you would, but I wanted you to
Months later, Piatigorsky and I were in Bogata in
South America. A telegram came from Mr. Perry
saying, "The opening is still available. Would you like
to take it?" Something of that sort.
I went to Piatigorsky's room and said, "Look, they
want me to work in Tanglewood. What do you think?"
He said, "Well, take it! You have nothing to lose. Your
family will have a nice vacation there. It's a beautiful
Becoming Dean of Tanalewood
Berkowitz: So I accepted. That was the beginning of eighteen
years of work there. That was in 1946 that I started.
Dr. Koussevitzky died in '51 . While he was living, I was
his executive assistant. When he died, they named
me dean. The work was the same, but the title was
For me it was a full year of work; it was full-time
employment in the sense that we had to prepare
Tanglewood during the winter months. An audition
committee of three or four men along with myself
went to the major cities, Montreal, Chicago, Detroit,
so forth, listening to applicants for Tanglewood. We
would listen to dozens of clarinets and trombones and
horns and all that.
We chose students and gave scholarships so that in
the spring we had formed an orchestra of about a
hundred which immediately, within a week, was one
of the great orchestras of the nation! And it was that
orchestra which was trained by Koussevitzky, and
later by Bernstein and by Munch and Ozawa,
Leinsdorf, and many younger students, like Maazel,
Mehta and Claudio Abbado.
C.E.: That's very exciting.
Berkowitz: It's still a most exciting place. As I say, I worked there
for eighteen years. Then as I was getting older, I felt
all that was too much because at the same time, as
you know, I was managing the symphony orchestra
here in Albuquerque. I was running the June Music
Festival and playing about... I don't know... twenty,
twenty-five chamber music works each season and
teaching and travelling. It all became too much, and I
slowly resigned from all those posts.
I had played in the June Music Festival for twenty-five
years. I resigned from that. Then I resigned from
eleven years of managing the symphony orchestra
here, and as I say, eighteen years of Tanglewood.
C.E.: I'd like to find out more about Tanglewood. How many
students were accepted?
Berkowitz: Relatively few. There was a symphony orchestra of
about a hundred students. What does that
mean... about three flutes and three clarinets and six
horns. Just an adequate number of students to make
a symphony orchestra.
Then there was a composition department headed by
Aaron Copland. Every year he invited some well-
known composer like Jacques Ibert, Messiaen, Toch,
Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Carlos Chavez, Luigi
Dallapicolla, Petrassi, Sessions-important
composers of the day all taught in Tanglewood. So
there was a group of maybe twelve, fifteen young
composers working under the general leadership of
Copland and these guests.
Then there was a full opera department headed by
Boris Goldovsky. The opera department not only had
singers, but electricians and costume designers and
choral teachers and coaches, and of course,
wonderful singers, many of whom are famous today,
like Sherrill Milnes, Evelyn Lear, Leontyne Price...
What else? There was a choral department headed
by Hugh Ross the conductor of the Schola Cantorum
in New York. The chorus numbered about a hundred
fifty students, and it would sing in the festival concerts
with the Boston Symphony.
Then there was a department, and I think it still exists,
for people who just wanted to go to Tanglewood and
attend rehearsals, listen to classes, listen to concerts,
but they were not active people. They didn't do
anything in the school except audit and observe and
C.E.: So even if you aren't a topflight, professional
musician, you can experience tanglewood.
Berkowitz: Absolutely. That was one of the important aspects of
Tanglewood. These were people who came from
small towns or from abroad... numerous. Mature
people, teachers, scientists, doctors, all who wanted
to have a summer of living in an atmosphere where
music never stopped, lectures never stopped,
concerts never stopped. It was the most stimulating
spot on the planet. And it was the first. You realize all
the great places like Aspen were patterned on what
Tanglewood was doing.
C.E.: How many weeks did it last each summer?
Berkowitz: It was eight or ten weeks. A long time! With that
pressure it was a tremendously long time. The
students were exhausted at the end, but nobody
wanted to leave. They just couldn't believe that they
had to leave that glorious place.
Background of the General Area
Berkowitz: Tanglewood is an extraordinarily beautiful spot in the
Berkshire hills of Massachusetts. It's at the western
edge of Massachusetts. The estate overlooks a
beautiful lake. It has a wonderful old mansion on it.
You know, the great American author, Hawthorne,
lived on that estate. He wrote Tanglewood Tales a
hundred fifty years ago or so. Melville lived nearby
and he knew Tanglewood very well, too. It was an
area of Massachusetts which later became the
playground of millionaries. Numerous mansions were
built. The great writer Edith Wharton had her home
there. President Theodore Roosevelt used to spend
summers there. There was a Carnegie mansion; the
Rockefellers lived there. It was one of those wonderful
playgrounds for the very wealthy.
C.E.: As I recall, you told me that you coached Eleanor
Roosevelt for her performance at Tanglewood as the
narrator in "Peter and the Wolf."
Berkowitz: Dr. Koussevitzky invited Eleanor Roosevelt to perform
Prokofieff's "Peter and the Wolf" with the Boston
Symphony. As she knew nothing about it, he asked
me to go to Hyde Park and coach her, show her how
the piece went. I had a wonderful day there with
Eleanor Roosevelt. As you know, she was one of the
great human beings of our time. She was utterly
simple and generous and friendly.
She was fearful about appearing with the Boston
Symphony Orchestra, having never done anything
like that before. But I had prepared the score for her
with colored pencils which would show her when to
speak and when not to. I played the orchestra part, of
course; and she went through it and read it very
charmingly. She later recorded it with the Boston
Symphony, and I think one can still get those records.
At any rate, she performed it on a Saturday night, and
there were a good fifteen thousand people who were
themselves with enthusiasm. She was most
impressed by the ovation. She said, "Do you really
think that applause is for me?!" (pause) I assured her
On the Faculty
Song Repertoire Department
C.E.: I see that not only were you the dean of Tanglewood,
but you also were on the faculty.
Berkowitz: When I had time I did some chamber music teaching
and also organized a song repertoire department.
The school had all the things I described before,
composition and opera and orchestra and chamber
music, but it didn't nave a department in which
singers could work on songs, on the great lieder of
Brahms and Schubert, Debussy, and so forth. I asked
Dr. Koussevitzky about forming such a department.
He, of course, liked it, and so we did. In recent years-
and when I say recent years that means twenty-five
years ago-it was taken over by the great singer,
Phyllis Curtin. She's doing it to this day, as far as I
The Faculty Board
C.E.: On the faculty board you were surrounded with
luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron
Berkowitz: These people were the heads of their departments.
After Koussevitzky's death in 1951, Charles Munch,
who succeeded him as conductor of the Boston
Symphony, didn't want to devote time to Tanglewood
the way Koussevitzky had, so we proposed that a
faculty board be formed. This board, as I say, had the
heads of each department: Bernstein for conducting,
Copland with composition, Hugh Ross for chorus,
Fritz Kroll for chamber music, Gpldovsky for opera. It
was an amicable group. We all liked each other and
worked well together.
Duties as Dean
C.E.: Were there any difficulties in running such an
Berkowitz: Enormous. Enormous difficulties, for the simple
reason that a faculty of about fifty people and a school
of about three hundred students would have all kinds
of ideas which were brought to my desk. Everybody
busy, everybody active, everybody trying to go their
own road in some way.
imagine that in working with these musicians for so
many years you probably became quite close to a
)er of them.
Oh, yes, we were really friends. Boris Goldovsky, who
is a great opera man-as you know, for many years
he had the intermission feature of the Metropolitan
Opera broadcasts-he and I were friends in the Curtis
Institute from about 1929.
Mr. Copland and I were close friends, indeed.
Bernstein I had been friendly with before he came to
Tanglewood. That was at the Curtis Institute when he
was a student from '38 on. He came to the Curtis as a
graduate of Harvard University. But even then as a
poor, young musician, one knew immediately that this
was going to be a great career. It turned out that way.
You could just see it in the eyes?
C.E.: I notice that you've recorded for a number of
Berkowitz: Piatigorsky and I recorded a great deal for Columbia
Records, and later for RCA Victor, but I've made
records with other artists as well, primarily with a
wonderful violinist, Eudice Shapiro. She is a professor
at DSC, has been for many years, and also was one
of the group of high professional players in the movie
studios. She was the first violinist of Twentieth
Century Fox so when you see or hear old films and
there's any solo violin going on, you can be pretty
sure it's Eudice Shapiro. She and I had a tour in '
Europe many years ago. She also was a Curtis
student. We recorded maybe seven, eight years ago
for Crystal Records, and before that recorded the "
three Brahms sonatas for Vanguard Records.
I also made records with three artists from the Boston
area: Ruth Posellt, a wonderful violinist, and Samuel
Mayes, the first cellist of the Boston Symphony at the
time, and Joseph Pasquale, the first viola player. We
made the Brahms First Piano Quartet, and also the
Clarinet Trio with the first clarinet of the Boston
Symphony, Gino Cioffi. With him I also recorded a
Brahms clarinet and piano sonata.
Records are strange in the sense that they don't live
very long. AN the Piatigorsky records are out of the
catalog. I haven't seen any listed for years. The
present Schwann catalog has a listing of more than
75,000 titles of classical music so you can imagine
that if you can today obtain any one out of 75,000,
there must be twice or three times that which don't
exist, that are out of print.
Making the Recordings
C.E.: What was the difference for you between live
performance and recording experiences?
Berkowitz: Recording is a very difficult thing to do. When we first
started to record in '41 or '42, there was no such thing
as tape. You recorded on a disc and the disc played
four minutes and twenty seconds. You couldn't stop it
and you couldn't correct it. You had to play the
amount of music-at most four minutes and twenty
seconds. If you recorded a sonata, you had to divide it
by timing carefully so that it would work out that way.
When you were playing you were always thinking, "Is
this going to last properly for these four minutes?" A
little slip or so and then you stopped. "OK. Kill it. We'll
do another one." You had to do the side all over again.
When tape came in, it appeared to be much easier
because you could insert one note if you wanted to.
You could patch it from dozens of takes and that's
how recordings largely are done today, although
many artists or orchestras play a full movement or a
full symphony. If they make mistakes, they correct
that area. Anything can be patched up and taped
together, as you know, and as I say, even one note
can be added or taken out. They can do wonderful
things. In a way that makes recording easier. Still,
when you're playing for no public and you know a
microphone is taking it all in, it's a kind of feeling which
is not very pleasant.
C.E.: Have you always enjoyed playing for audiences or do
you get excessively nervous before performances?
Berkowitz: No, no. I am lucky to have the kind of nature that
doesn't get nervous. One gets excited: you're
anticipating playing, but if you feel that you know what
you're doing and you feel that there's a knowing
audience, then it's a gratifying thing and very pleasant
and quite wonderful.
C.E.: I understand this is rather different from Mr.
Horowitz's experiences of pre-concert jitters.
Berkowitz: Well, Horowitz is a very special man. What he says we
don't necessarily have to believe. He's such an
experienced, old artist that if he says he gets very
excited or very frightened, he may g_r may not.
But every artist who's played and who has a
reputation to uphold can't take performing lightly. He
knows he has something on his shoulders that he has
to keep upholding. To that extent the Horowitzes and
Rubinsteins and Heifetzes and Piatigorskys and
many others have an emotion on their minds, on their
hearts, on their feelings, knowing that their
reputation, in a sense, is at stake.
C.E.: I see that in 1954 you were doing some orchestration.
Was that an interest all along?
Berkowitz: Yes, I studied orchestration at the Curtis Institute.
When Piatigorsky and I travelled, I used to carry along
manuscript paper and a bottle of ink and pens and
would orchestrate some great work, usually a work of
Bach. It was a good pastime in hotel rooms while
Berkowitz: waiting for concerts to take place. I did a number of
those and some of them are played.
I noticed the other day that in the Santa Fe Chamber
Music Concerts which take place right now [July],
they're going to play a version of mine of Saint Saens 1
"Carnival of the Animals" for two pianos. You know, I
made many transcriptions for four hands, for two
pianos. Saint Saens 1 "Carnival of the Animals" was
written for two pianos with orchestra and I arranged it
for two pianos without the orchestra. That is a very
effective piece and it's played. I have records of its
being done in Japan not long ago and in Copenhagen
so I was happy to see that they chose to play it here in
I played the "Carnival" with Arthur Fiedler in
Tanglewood once. The other pianist was my dear
friend Seymour Lipkin. Ogden Nash came to read his
own verses at that concert.
C.E.: How exciting!
Berkowitz: He did it.
"A TELEPHONE CALL"
C.E.: In 1957 you had a composition of yours performed in
Berkowitz: It was in Brazil, yes. There's a short story by Dorothy
Parker called "A Telephone Call" and it deals with a
young lady waiting at a telephone for her boyfriend to
call. Of course, the phone never rings. She keeps
thinking, "Maybe he's sick," or "Maybe he forgot," or
"He doesn't love me." I asked Dorothy Parker for
permission to set that to music and she said, "Surely,
So I did it for voice with orchestra. I showed it to my
friend Eleazar de Carvalho who was conductor of
Berkowitz: the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and he went back
there and got somebody to learn it and sing it. I never
heard it, but it was done there.
C.E.: Do you have a recording?
C.E.: Has a recording been made of it?
Berkowitz: No, I doubt it.
C.E.: Have you done any other compositions?
Berkowitz: Not to speak of, no, nothing important at all.
C.E.: This just seized your imagination?
ONLY GOOD MUSIC
C.E.: I see here that you worked with Jan Peerce.
Berkowitz: Yes. I played concerts with a number of my friends
such as Jan Peerce, Raya Garbousoya, Zara
Nelsova, Leonid Kogan, Eudice Shapiro. I became
friendly with Jan Peerce and when he was in this area
he asked me to play with him. Houston, Albuquerque,
Denver, I believe, and Kansas City. Not many
concerts, but over a period of four or five years I did
play with him. He was a great gentleman, a very great
C.E.: Do you prefer opera repertoire or lieder when you
play for singers?
Berkowitz: Only good music.
C.E.: Who are your favorite composers?
Berkowitz: Everybody (laughter - Erbele). Well, Mozart,
Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms.
Berkowitz: The great, great, great classics. Stravinsky,
Hindemith, Tschaikovsky, Shostakowich, Prokofiev.
Any professional artist who says, "I like him, but I don't
like him," is making a mistake. You can have some
affinity for somebody more than for somebody else,
but to say, "I don't like Tschaikovsky," "I don't like
Hindemith," or "I don't like Brahms." that's
preposterous. You have to know you're facing great
mentalities if you face Tschaikovsky or Brahms. You
meet these people halfway and learn from them and
make yourself know that you must appreciate them.
C.E. Do you find that because you taught form and
analysis that this gave you a greater appreciation of
Berkowitz: Well, yes. Any contact with the work of a composer's
mind, which means the form of the thing they're
working on, has to enhance your appreciation and
your understanding of music. Nobody can play music
if they don't know what the form of it is, what the
harmonic structure, what the skeletal idea is. The
composer isn't interested in writing a lot of notes and
very nice tunes. He has to make a structure like an
architect makes a blueprint for a building.
C.E.: What first brought you to Albuquerque?
Berkowitz: Well, I came here in 1958 to manage the symphony
orchestra and because I had made friends here since
1946, when I first played in the June Music Festival [in
Albuquerque]. I wanted to get away from the East
Coast and this was an opportunity to do so since
managing the orchestra would fit in with my work in
Tanglewood, the June Music Festival and with my
travels with Piatigorsky. It was a move that I never
C.E.: What drew you to this part of the country?
Berkowitz: As I say, I had known it since '46. It was a nice place to
come to! When I first came here in 1946 Albuquerque
was a very small town. Central Avenue, as you know,
the main thoroughfare, didn't exist with any buildings
on it beyond the university campus. From there going
east it was just fields with a few little huts. It was the
war [WWII], of course, that brought many people here
to work at Sandia [Airforce Base]. It developed into a
much bigger city then. Now it's about 350,000, isn't it?
C.E.: Half a million, I hear.
Berkowitz: Yes. It's a wonderful place to live. It doesn't have the
great defects of big cities with traffic and smog and
crowds and all the other perils of big city life. Although
I'm a New Yorker, I don't miss New York, except for
great museums, great theaters, great concerts, which
we do not have.
The Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra
C.E.: What were your responsibilities in managing the
Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra [now the New
Berkowitz: Well, there is the matter of the personnel, the
rehearsal schedules, the contacts with the
conductor.--At that time, it was Maurice Bonney, a
very talented young conductor. He was here for
eleven years. He came the same season I did. --And
the choice of soloists to go within the budget of the
orchestra. At that time it was a very modest budget.
Now the orchestra's gone to about a three million
But every orchestra in every city has to start from
something and develop. It can't start full-blown like
Berkowitz: the Boston Symphony with a budget of forty million
dollars a year.
It was made up of amateurs and housewives,
students and doctors and others who could give their
time. They got very, very little money for it, but of
course relatively, they still do. An orchestra is one of
the most expensive beasts that you can think of,
along with opera companies. They have to be
subsidized; they have to be supported by donations.
No matter where it is, if it's Washington or Chicago or
Albuquerque, the problems are the same: raising
money, getting good players, getting a conductor who
can lead it and develop it.
C.E.: Was Maurice Bonney conductor the whole time you
Berkowitz: Yes, yes. We came together and left together.
The June Music Festival
C.E.: What was the June Music Festival all about and what
year did it begin?
Berkowitz: It started before the war, about 1 938 or so. There was
a wealthy man in this city named Albert Simms and he
and his wife loved chamber music. They invited a
group of musicians to give concerts which were free
to the public. One had only to write to Mr. Simms and
he sent tickets. That went on for... five years or so with
a group of artists of which I was not a member. The
person who arranged the concerts was the cellist
George Miquelle whom I knew very well.
He once called me and asked if I would like to come to
Albuquerque to play chamber music. Well, I jumped at
that. Josef Gingold, one of the great teachers of this
nation right now, and George Miquelle, who died a
few years ago-he was a wonderful cellist-and
Berkowitz: other men were invited. There were Ferenc Molnar
and Frank Houser from San Francisco. We arranged
programs of sonatas, trios, quartets, quintets.
After awhile Mr. Simms said he couldn't afford to
subsidize it anymore. Miquelle and Gingold and I
talked it over and decided we would run it because
there had been a nucleus of four or five hundred
people we thought might be willing to pay ten dollars
for a series of concerts. We got a nucleus of
subscribers, backers, donors, and to this day, that's
what the June Music Festival is.
In recent years, it's been the Guarneri String Quartet,
one of the great quartets of the world. Previous to
that, there had been the Fine Arts Quartet for eight,
ten years. In all of the twenty-five years that I played,
the pianist did the bulk of the repertoire because the
public seemed to want piano music so on every
program I played at least two works. If there were
eight concerts, that's sixteen works every season.
That's a lot.
C.E.: I guess all this time since you taught at the Curtis
Institute you've had piano students as well.
Berkowitz: Well, I taught much before I went to the Curtis. I
started teaching when I was fifteen or sixteen and
never stopped. Anybody who wants to be a teacher
should teach from his youngest years. It's very hard to
become a teacher when you're thirty or forty and
actually, it's not fair to students. Teaching is
something you learn to do by teaching and you
cannot learn unless you do it. But of course, if you're a
writer you can only write by writing, etcetera. If you're
a baseball player you really only play baseball by
Berkowitz: In the matter of teaching it's important to have
patience, to know what you're talking about, to try to
be articulate and to be consistent. You cannot one
week say one thing and then contradict it the next. Or
on the other hand, you can't show indifference to
people who are not as gifted as they might be from
God. You have to do the utmost to make everyone
appreciate music, love music and devote their
interest to music unless they don't like jj in which case
they shouldn't study at all.
C.E.: So to some degree it's a task in the psychology of
each student. *
Berkowitz: Sure. You have to know who you're teaching and you
have to want them to like the art of music, not only to
jike it, but to love it and to devote themselves with
integrity. It's easy to say and very hard to do. A
teacher who works eight hours a day all week long is
not likely to have that lovely, noble spirit. He can lose
his temper and so forth; but I don't teach that much
and never have, so that I can really feel, in a sense,
fresh with each student at each session.
"Would You Do It Again?"
Many of the positions you've held in your lifetime have
involved all sorts of scheduling problems and other
organizational matters. Looking back, would you do it
Oh, yes. I would gladly go to the Curtis Institute again.
I would gladly go to work in Tanglewood again, if I
were young, of course, or gladly begin a career
travelling with Piatigorsky again. I don't know about
managing the symphony. That was gratifying in a
way, but that I could have lived without even though I
Berkowitz: enjoyed doing it and I think I contributed something to
the job. It's always an interesting thing to say, "Would I
do all that again?"-"Would I lead my life the same
way?" In the professional part of it, I would pretty
much say, "Yes, I would do it again."
C.E.: So you liked having a variety of activities?
Berkowitz: That certainly, yes. Playing and teaching and studying
and managing and being a dean, all of that I liked very
C.E.: People often think of artists and musicians as
tempermental. Did you experience that in your
Berkowitz: Well, the greater the person the less tempermental.
That's for sure. In any field, if you meet a great
executive of General Motors for instance, you're
going to find a refined gentleman. The tempermental
in the arts is for the fourth raters and the amateurs
and those people who just want to show off. I've never
known an important artist who wasn't a great lady or a
great gentleman. The more important they were, the
more one noticed their sense of humanity and dignity
and integrity-anything farthest removed from what
people usually think of as artistic temperment. That
WORLD WAR II
Working in a War Factory
C.E.: How did World War II affect your career?
Berkowitz: In the early forties there was, as you know, the draft
for all men of age for the army. I was eligible for quite
awhile, but they changed rules every few weeks
according to the needs of the army and navy. At one
time they said that a man with children who had a war
job would not be drafted into the army.
Berkowitz: I knew an important industrialist in Philadelphia. He
took me to a factory where they made war equipment
and introduced me to the owners. They gave me a job
as an inspector so that for about two and a half years
during the war, I actually did work in a war factory.
They were nice enough to let me go off on tour now
and again with Piatigorsky. All of that was legitimate
with my draft board. I had already had what you call
an induction test.
I very much enjoyed that work in a war factory and
made many good friends there... as much as I was
frightened of a factory when I first entered it. The
noise, the clanging, metal machines. It seemed
impossible. How could one live with that eight hours a
day! But you acclimate yourself very well, and of
course, it was a very good lesson. I did it with
C.E.: Was it difficult to travel during the war years?
Berkowitz: Oh, yes. During the war everything was difficult. The
answer that anyone gave you anytime at all to cover
up anything was to say, "Don't you know there's a war
on!" Anything! Bad meals, no service, lost
reservations, anything you want, they would cover up
simply by saying, "Don't you know there's a war on!"
Trains were enormously crowded. Soldiers and
sailors were travelling all the time. They had to. Life in
America was no picnic even though we didn't have
the horrors of war in the way Europe did. Still, the war
years in America were not pleasant.
Plight of the Jewish People
C.E.: Did you know what was happening to the Jewish
people in Germany?
Berkowitz: No, people had no. idea of the severity of that horror.
We knew, of course, the whole world knew, what
Hitler said! He wasn't ashamed to say he wanted to
exterminate the Jewish race. We knew that the Nazi's
policy was that, but there wasn't that knowledge
whicn came later on. But it didn't save six million Jews
from being exterminated. The world will never live that
C.E.: Did you have any relatives. . . ?
Berkowitz: No! Fortunately, no one I knew was in that situation in
C.E.: Well, thank you for this interview and for giving me
your time. Thank you very much.
PHOTOS, PAINTINGS AND OTHER WORKS
C.E.: When did you start painting?
Berkowitz: It must have been about 1 940. (pause) Why?
Because I was travelling so much with Piatigorsky. In
hotel rooms and even on trains I would draw. It was a
good way to spend time.
It was Piatigorsky who said to me, "Why don't you get
some canvas and make bigger paintings?" The usual
thing. I mean everyone goes through the same thing.
Well, I went into it enthusiastically for many years. My
catalog, which I kept methodically, has more than 600
C.E.: (reads) "Chinese Twins, Sea Captain and a Lamp
Post." Oh, I like that.
Berkowitz: That was one of the earliest ones of its kind. . . 1 978,
twelve years ago.
C.E.: So you started the wood construction ones. . .
Berkowitz: About then. I started because a student of mine who
makes violins has millions of pieces of wood. I didn't
do anything except pick them up and put them
C.E.: Her name is Anne Cole?
Berkowitz: Yes. She plays the piano and she's a fine cellist, but
she makes fiddles professionally.
Berkowitz: This is one of a series I call "Oracles." They all are
seated women. Purely abstract. I must have about
twenty of them.
Berkowitz: That's a collage.
C.E.: Does it have a title?
Berkowitz: ISto. It's just a lot of pasted... stuff. There's a lot of nice
things in it. Railway tickets. It really has to do with
C.E.: So it has railway tickets?
Berkowitz: Some little bit there in pink from a sleeper-car ticket,
C.E.: Oh yes.
Berkowitz: And fragments of a music program.
Berkowitz: This is an artist bowing.
C.E.: Do you remember when you did this?
Berkowitz: ...a date. There, in the corner.
C.E.: Yes. '58.
Berkowitz: The artist is bowing; here are the footlights and the
curtain above the stage.
C.E.: Would it be a lot of trouble to move that plant?
Berkowitz: I could move the wall (laughter - C.E.). Just take it with
the plant; it will be lovely. "
Did you do this wooden construction?
Yes! This is supposedly a Japanese teahouse. A
model for one.
I'd like to photograph you holding that.
You can see part of a fiddle that is cut there.
Oh yes. So it looks like you had a lot of fun doing
Tremendous fun. The thing about doing artwork is
that when you've done it, it's there. If you give a
concert in Kansas City, after it's over, so what. It's
gone! The next day a travelling artist goes to
Wyoming. He's got the money, of course. He earns a
living, but the difference in being a creative artist is
immense. That why everybody paints... If you think
how many things are created that didn't exist the day
before-pictures, poetry, compositions, construction,
every day-it's amazing. Isn't it?
And it's always a source of joy to the creator at the
time. Later on I say, "The hell with it!" No interest at all,
but the act of doing it, and the fact that it's there...
Berkowitz: These boxes have different figures. This woman was
a very great painter. Her name was Sofonisba
Anguissola. I put an earring on her. This is a key from
a piano. There are various objects. The main point of
it is that it's a collection of boxes pasted together.
Basically cigar boxes. See here's a name.
C.E.: Did you smoke cigars?
Berkowitz: Present tense. Emerson once said, "Tell me the music
he likes and the cigars he smokes and I'll tell you who
C.E.: What was the woman's name in this box? I forget.
Berkowitz: Sofonisba Anguissola.
C.E.: What a beautiful name!
Berkowitz: You know the writer, of course, Germaine Greer. She
wrote a big book about women artists. You can't
imagine how many there were in the seventeenth,
eighteenth, nineteenth centuries. Their work is in
museums around the world and yet they are
completely unknown. It's a most fascinating book!
C.E.: My friend, Julia, is an artist. She said that when she
was in art school she was told several times by her
male professors that there were no important women
Berkowitz: I would say the same, honestly, about women
composers. There's Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara
Schumann. Nobody the stature of a Beethoven, but in
paintings there were. They weren't Rembrandt or
Titian, but they were great painters and they are
absolutely unknown now. Sofonisba who died in 1635
was one of six sisters, all of whom were fine painters.
She was for twenty years court painter in Spain.
Berkowitz: See this box? It's a construction within a given space
and I put things here made by children. That back
there is a relief made by Michaelangelo. He made that
when he was a child.
C.E.: And what's this one called?
Berkowitz: "Don Quixote." That's a collage. It's all pasted paper.
C.E.: The texture is lovely. It looks so smooth.
Berkowitz: You see, that's Don Quixote riding a horse. See the
reins he's holding? See his face? And this is his
Berkowitz: Dulcinea who he thinks is a princess. Actually she's a
scullery maid. She is on the back of the horse. There's
the horse's mane.
Berkowitz: (holds up a wood construction) This is the Biblical
figure of Job. Doesn't he look like a Job?
C.E.: Yes. Those eyebrows.
Berkowitz: You know, all that's natural wood. I didn't do anything
to it but paste it together. Driftwood.
(He holds up another wood construction.) The hair
goes with this character, too. It's Stravinsky.
Berkowitz: This is a nice box. Inside you see a pussycat.
C.E.: (laughs and looks inside) Oh yes. And a map, some
C.E.: What's the name of this painting?
Berkowitz: It is a woman's head. No special name.
C.E.: It's beautiful. Do you remember when you did it?
Berkowitz: I would say about twenty-five years ago.
What else is here? This is in the program book.
Piatigorsky, Franz Waxman, Isaac Stern and myself.
This photo was taken about 1946 or '47. It's at the
Russian Tearoom in New York, a famous little
restaurant near Carnegie Hall. Why we were all
together I couldn't tell you. The name Waxman
means nothing to you. He was a very important movie
composer in the thirties and forties and was very
highly regarded. He died young.
Did your friend, Eudice Shapiro, ever play in his
orchestras? Didn't you say she did a lot of movie
Berkowitz: Sure. She played everything!
Berkowitz: Here's a very touching picture (looking at
C.E.: It is. How old was he when he died?
Berkowitz: He was in his seventies I would estimate, but he had
worked so hard. He conducted the Boston Symphony
for twenty-five years.
This is your wife, Beth.
Berkowitz: This is Perry, manager (on the right), and Erich
Leinsdorf when he was conductor of the Boston
Symphony (center). Read what he says. It's very cute.
"To smiling Ralph from prayerful Erich." And Perry
writes, "From wary Perry."
Berkowitz: This is in the Curtis Institute. It must be about 1935.
Here is Rosario Scalero who was the teacher of
Samuel Barber and of Gian Carlo Menotti. I also
studied with him. This photo seems to show us
listening to something. We're sort of looking down at a
piece of music.
C.E.: And the one next to you is. . .
Berkowitz: That's Barber. Then Menotti and that's Rosario
Berkowitz: This is the Metropolitan Opera Intermission narrator
Boris Goldovsky. He's a great opera man.
Berkowitz: This is a cute picture. This was taken on
Koussevitzky's birthday. Here's me, Copland,
Koussevitzky and Eleazar de Carvalho, the Brazilian
conductor. And above are men of the Boston
Symphony: first trumpet, first clarinet, bassoon,
C.E.: This man from Brazil performed a piece you wrote,
Berkowitz: That's the one.
C.E.: What was the name of it?
Berkowitz: "The Telephone Call." Eleazar de Carvalho was
conductor of the St. Louis Symphony at one time, and
of the orchestra in Brussels. He's an international
Berkowitz: Below me is Frederick Fennel!. He made many
recordings with the Eastman Symphonic Band.
Berkowitz: That's Jascha Heifetz.
C.E.: "To Ralph Berkowitz with warm greetings and best
Berkowitz: Heifetz wrote a very formal inscription. He didn't go in
for flowery phrases.
C.E.: When did you meet him?
Berkowitz: Oh, I met him first in 1 940, '41 . He was a close friend
of Piatigorsky, of course, so we were together on
many occasions. We were together in Israel in 1970.
The last time Piatigorsky and I sat on a stage was in
Tel Aviv in 1 970. That was the last concert we played
together. Mr. Heifetz was there, too. We played one
night and he played the next. After he played I went
backstage and said to him, "Mr. Heifetz, you play like
He said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Did you ever
hear God play?"
That was his sense of humor. I said, "Never mind. You
play really like a god."
He was an old man then. He was well in his sixties. He
was born in 1903 and this was 1970. He really played
fantastically. He was such a master. He looked like an
Adonis on the stage; the way he held the fiddle.
Berkowitz: This is Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
C.E.: Oh, right. When was this taken?
Berkowitz: Not long ago. That was in L.A., maybe five, six years
ago . He's an old, dear friend. His father was
Efrem Zimbalist, one of the great fiddlers of the world.
When Heifetz was a student of Leopold Auer in
Russia, Auer had three students who were to become
the greatest of the world: Heifetz, Zimbalist and
Would you tell us about this photo?
That's Aaron Copland in the sixties, I think. In 1961 .
By then he was already an old friend because we
started working together in 1946 in Tanglewood. Next
to it is a picture you haven't seen [not shown here].
This was from the memorial concert a few weeks ago,
after his death.
He was ninety years old.
It is amazing that he should die just a few months
after Bernstein because they were great friends.
Copland was a large influence on Bernstein's life.
There was eighteen years difference in their lives-
and they died so close together.
Did they work together for many decades?
Well, work together isn't quite it. They were close
friends. Bernstein played and conducted all of
Copland's music. After all when Bernstein was a
teenager, Copland was a world famous figure.
Do you know when they met?
Bernstein wrote about their meeting at a concert. He
went to a performance in Town Hall in New York. Next
to him was a man he didn't know and somehow or
other he was introduced-"Here's Aaron Copland." It
was by mere chance. I don't know that Copland knew
of Bernstein at that time.
I take it they worked together at Tanglewood for quite
a long time.
Berkowitz: Well, Copland, Bernstein and myself were together
hundreds of times in those eighteen years that I
worked in Tanglewood, at meetings and so forth.
C.E.: The inscription on this one says, "For Ralph with the
affection of his friend. Aaron. 1961."
Here we come to one of your old friends.
What's the inscription on it?
He sent this to me on my seventieth birthday so he
says, "Affectionate congratulations to my dear old
friend Ralph B. who's 70 from Lenny B. who's only 62.
More power to you."
That's a lovely photograph of him.
Oh, it's a great picture.
And he lived to be how old?
Seventy-two. Of course, he lived so many lives at the
same time, he was probably 28p. He lived the life of a
great conductor, the life of a writer, a composer, world
traveller, great teacher. The thing he was most proud
of was his teaching.
Oh yes. The Children's Concerts with the
Philharmonic are historic documents. The many
books he wrote are all based on the teaching he did.
He felt most at home as a teacher. In Europe he's
considered much more of a composer than in
America, although now we're coming to see that he
was an important composer.
I've always been very impressed by his compositions.
I think he wrote the best orchestral score of any
musical ever written.
Berkowitz: West Side Story. Certainly. Candide and On the Town.
Colossal output. That's why I say he lived at least
three lives because all of this was going at the same
C.E.: I remember seeing his children's concerts on TV at
school. They were electrifying. He made the music
Berkowitz: Absolutely. It was memorable.
C.E.: Here we are in front of your lovely house in
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
C/ OF ALBUQUERQUE. INC.
September 5, 1990 at 8:15
Keller Hall, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Ralph Berkowitz born New York
Graduate of Curtis Institute of Music
1935 - Staff until 1940
Joins Gregor Piatigorsky 1940 for 30
years of association Tours in many
parts of the world recordings for
RCA Victor and Columbia Records
Pianist in June Music Festival, Albu
querque 1946-1972 appeared 250
times in 123 works
Executive Assistant to Serge
Koussevitzky 1946, and later Dean
of Boston Symphony Orchestra's
Tanglewood Music Center until 1965
Manager of Albuquerque (now New
Mexico) Symphony Orchestra
Pianist with Felix Salmond, Janos
Starker, Raya Garbousova, Jan Peerce,
Josef Gingold, Leonid Kogan, Joseph
Silverstein, Phyllis Curtin, Zara Nelsova
and Eudice Shapiro in various
Summer 1950 - coaches Eleanor
Roosevelt for her narration of 'Peter
and the Wolf with Serge Koussevitzky
and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Transcriptions and arrangements
published by G Schirmer, Elkan-Vogel,
Associated and Galaxy in USA; in
Europe, Universal Editions, Austria;
Durand et Cie, France; B Schott
Articles published by Penguin Books
(London), Etude Magazine and The
Television programs: "The Arts" 63
half-hour talks on Channel 5
Lectures at Columbia University,
University of Southern California,
Albright Museum, Buffalo; Franklin
Institute, Philadelphia; Tanglewood
One-man shows of paintings:
Philadelphia; Berkshire Museum,
Pittsfield, Mass; Jonson Gallery,
Norman Rockwell and Ralph Berkowitz
Ralph Berkowitz and Erich Leinsdorf
Ralph Berkowitz and Witold Lutoslawski
Ralph Berkmvitz addressing students at Tanglewood.
At Right: Mrs. Serge Koussevitzky and Aaron Copland
Left to Right: Cregor Piatigorsky, Franz Waxman, Isaac Stern and Ralph Berkowitz
Ralph Berkountz and Eugene Ormandy
Left to Right: Lutes
fbss, Ralph Berkowitz,
Leonard Bernstein and
Ralph Berkmvitz and Gregor Piatigorsky in Tokyo
Serge Koussmitzky, Cregor Piatigorsky and Ralph Berkowitz
Eleanor Roosevelt and Ralph Berkowitz
70 AWl VINU
January 12. 1990
Sfng r ^ ich e" r1ch us *"
many of you wit
I could be W i th you on this sisniri,
c n your aothll There . not too
of ou with your brmiint background .y
Tangleivood ivos my musical alma mater, and Ralph Berkowitz one of
my maestri there. I do not remember meeting Ralph, I simply see us
right now in a corner room of the main house, I singing away and
Ralph leading me into the unexplored wonders of Hindemith's Das
Marienleben just as though we had known one another for a long time.
I learned an enormous amount and Ralph fortunately had great
patience and humor. The humor made the great things in the music
we studied together available and vital. Certainly Ralph then, later and
throughout my singing years was there in the humanity of music,
loving it and smiling over all those years. What a delight!
from Phyllis Curtin, Dean, School for the Arts, Boston University
December 1, 1989
NEW YORK. NEW YORK IOI2B
523 14th street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Dear old friend Ralph
Oil 0i US- *
Berkowitz is a wa o/ impeccable man
ners and taste, awesome erudition, unflap
pable temperament, and a pixieish sense of
humor that combine to make him a true
Superman of our time. Long may he enrich
the lives of all who know and love him.
from Martin Bookspan, New York City
Radio and TV commentator
I can't believe its 80! Felicitations, love
and greetings. A toast to our togetherness
of so many years!
from Eudice Shapiro
University of Southern California
Honorary Patrons & Friends
Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Adams
Martin and Phyllis Atkin
Beth Hodgson Berkowitz
Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bookspan
Dr. and Mrs. Albert Carlin
David and Anne Cole
Mr. and Mrs. Maynard Cowan
Mr. and Mrs. John Dalley
Joanna de Keyser
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Dolde
Mrs. Rudolf Dreyer
Mr. and Mrs. Artemus Edwards
Mr. and Mrs. James Esenwein
Leonard and Arlette Felberg
Mrs. Stanley Fletcher
Dr. and Mrs. Kurt Frederick
Mr. and Mrs. Morris Gerber
Mr. and Mrs. Gary Graffman
Ronald F. Grinage
Bennett A. Hammer
Nancy Lee Harper
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hooton
Anthony B. Jeffries and
Mr. and Mrs. Dale Kempter
Drs. Mario and Asja Kornfeld
Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Kubie
Dr. and Mrs. Ulrich Luft
Mr. and Mrs. Rosario Mazzeo
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Monte
Dr. and Mrs. Federico Mora
Mr. and Mrs. Juan R. Mora
Mr. and Mrs. Martin S. Morrison
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Myers
Dr. and Mrs. Avrum Organick
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parnegg
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Perry
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Pesic
Mrs. Gregor Piatigorsky
Mr. and Mrs. Mark Pike
Mr. and Mrs. John Randall
Mrs. Helen Reiser
Mr. and Mrs. John Robb, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. George Robert
Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Rosenberg
Dr. and Mrs. Sol Schoenbach
W. H. Shultz
Mrs. Sherman E. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. David Soyer
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Spiegel
Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Steinhardt
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Stern
Dr. and Mrs. Peter D. Stern
Mr. and Mrs. Neal Stulberg
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Taichert
Mr. and Mrs. Yoshimi Takeda
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Tree
Ray Twohig and Rebecca Sitterly
Mr. and Mrs. William Weinrod
Joanna de Keyser
The June Music Festival wishes to
issue a special thank you to tonight
artists for their donation of time an
talent and to Virginia Mora for her
fund raising efforts for this concert.
Beethoven Trio for Flute, Bassoon and Piano
Thema andante con variazioni
Debussy "Syrinx" for Solo Flute
Faure Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano, Opus 13
Allegro quasi presto
Corelli Adagio for Bassoon and Piano
Arensky Trio in D Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano, Opus 32
Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals: Grand Zoological Fantasia
Introduction & Royal March of the Lions
Roosters and Hens
Personages with Long Ears
Version for Two Pianos
by Ralph Berkowitz
Rhymed Commentaries by Ogden Nash
Narrated by Mr. Berkowitz
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
James K. Walton, President
Michael Langner, Vice President
Lillian Dolde, Secretary
Bruce Howden, Treasurer
Mrs. James Conrad
Col. Stacy Gooch
Carol N. Kinney
Dr. Michael Linver
Col. F. E. Timlin
Harold Van Winkle
HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS
Robert L. Bovinette
Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Clark
Arthur H. Spiegel
THE JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL
50TH ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE
Arlette Felberg, Chairman
Mrs. James Conrad
Carol N. Kinney
Col. F. E. Timlin
James K. Walton
Department of Music,
University of New Mexico
College of Fine Arts,
University of New Mexico
Artists on tonight's concert
This Concert Inaugurates
the 50th Season
The June Music Festival
For more information about the June Music Festival, write:
June Music Festival, P.O. Box 35081, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87176
or call 505 888-1842
Thr Dean of the Berkshire Music Center gives a highly
ter eating behind-the-scene vieiv of the details involved
in getting 400 students lined up for their
summer musical experiences.
by RALPH BERKOWITZ
N 7 INE O'CLOCK on a Monday morning last July, some 400
music students from all corners of the earth began a six
session of study at Tanglewood a place-name which has
ved more fame than any other musical center in our country,
lewood, with its literarj associations going back for a century,
low become a source of vital interest to students of music in
ra. Rio de Janeiro, Tel-Aviv, and Los Angeles. At no time in
:ica s musical growing-up has a school accomplished so much
lickK , nor have influences made themselves so apparent as
emanating from Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center,
e Berkshire Music Center, Serge Koussevitzky's name for
nusic school he founded in association with the Berkshire
val, which had begun the Boston S\ mphony Orchestra summer
:rts in the Berkshire Hills a few years earlier, has recently
'leted its tenth anniversary session.
may be interesting to share a behind-the-sccne view of what
ens in order to get 400 students to begin their summer of
;il experience on that Monday in early July. Work on the
session began directly after the last concert of the Berkshire
lal more than a year ago. Soon after the 10.000 listeners'
use had stopped reverberating in the great Shed, while the
in Symphony musicians were slowly packing their travel
5 and crews began their usual after-concert cleaning-up of
lewood's vast rolling lawns, the school's Faculty Board met
e Library for the last time that summer. This meeting of
les Munch who was to become the Music Center's director,
Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Boris Goldovsky, William
, Hugh Ross, Richard Burgin, Thomas Perry, the executive
tary, and myself, consisted of a critical estimate of the school's
and a man by man platform of what ought to be done for
allowing summer's musical planning,
is necessary to understand that music study at Tanglewood
does not consist of getting lessons in voice or on one's instrument.
It was Koussevilzky's view that qualified young musicians should
come together for ensemble work of a type which no private
teacher or consenatory could offer. So that from the numerous
chamber-music groups up through the larger choruses, the opera
productions and the student symphony orchestra, the young musi
cian at Tanglewood is constantly in a milieu which his winter
study is not likely to afford him. The summer's work is, therefore,
in no sense a form of competition with private or conservatory
stud\, but rather a pendant which broadens the future musician's
The Berkshire Music Center's five departments each in their
way offer this type of music-making. Department One is the
chamber music and orchestral division of the school.
An oboe student in Cleveland, let us say, has heard of Tangle-
wood and wants to come there to play in the orchestra. He wntes
to Symphony Hall in Boston, where each mail from Noveniber
,on brings queries and requests for acceptance. Application forms
are sent along with word that an audition committee from the
Berkshire Music Center will be in Cleveland's Severance Hall
on April 17th from 1 to 4 o'clock. As the weeks go by oboists
in Chicago, New York. Tulsa and Dallas also apply. With one
of the letters will come a recommendation from a 1946 conduct
ing student at Tanglewood that this boy in Kansas City is a
terrific talent and looks like a coming first oboe for any major
orchestra. Several former oboe students' applications also roll in
toward spring and a few European students apply as well.
Guileless in spirit and armed with forms, audition reports and
lots of orchestral music, a committee leaves Boston in April for
a few weeks of auditions in an area bounded by Toronto, St. Louis
and Baltimore. Duly on April 17th at 1 o'clock they are in
Severance Hall in Cleveland and among violinists, sopranos, trum-
n Copland \\ith inembrr* t hi- composition rla-- al ljni:lr
Taniilcwood stml.-iil- relaxing during lunch hour in front of Concert Hall
und tubas the oboe applicant appears. He plays a increment
adandel Coneerto in which the warmth and steadiness of his
are apparent. The stylistic treatment of the music shows a
ml refinement. The quick movement is dashing and spirited,
:rtirulation of some passages is rather lacking in control. He
Ifed to read some music at sight. Has he had orchestral ex-
ik-e? No. He has only been studying three and a half years,
boe part of a Mendelssohn Symphony is placed before him.
j*mically weak but tonally a good result. Another try at it.
itime much better rhythmically but as the passage goes along
eadiness of tone is lost. How about a try at some Brahms?
eirst reading is poor. A few moments to look at it and then
a shines through again. A grasp of the style, good tone, some
It rhythms well achieved.
about ten minutes the auditors know whether this young
lian is likely to hold his own in a first-rate student orchestra.
he have the solid make-up for the first desk? Is he flexible
^h? Is his mastery of the instrument up to following a can-
w'* stick in an unfamiliar work? Can he learn quickly? Is
ftveak talent well-taught or a fine talent poorly-taught? Will
I able to take part in a woodwind quintet working on Hinde-
:lin the afternoon following a morning of orchestral rehearsal
fcthoven and Stravinsky?
lew weeks later in Boston, having listened to several hundred
iants in more than a dozen cities, their audition reports bear-
tile tale of talents high and low, the auditors begin to weed
:ke unprepared as well as the too professional. When the -oboe
on is considered, it is done in collaboration with Louis
lr, the faculty member from the Boston Symphony Orchestra
'tenting that instrument. It is necessary to choose five oboists
of whom shall also pjay the English Horn from the many
ried out, and also, of course, from those too far away to
been able to travel to an audition city,
things considered, the Cleveland oboe student is written
ling him that five oboes have been selected for Tanglewood
liat he is not among them, but that his talent and ability have
him on an alternate list and in the event that someone should
out. etc. etc. Ten days later one of the accepted oboists writes
delighted as he is to have been (Continued on Pace 50)
(above) Charles Munch conducts a rehearsal of the student orchestra,
(below) Leonard Bern?tein conducting the student orchestra.
rui .... educational
a series by
and Ruth Bampton
offer well-known and appealing little pieces
ortunity for young students to gain under-
ml appreciation of the works of famous
contains a simply written biography, a pic-
composer, and scenes from his life. Easy-
ces have heen arranged so that they retain
il elements of the original composition. Also
re directions for constructing a miniature
jestioiis for a musical playlet, and a list of
nrdings. For use in school or at home, for
jom 5 to 12. Each hook $.40.
(O Saviour Sweet, Musette, Minuet in G-minor, While
by (from the "Peasant" Cantata). Piano Duet: My
: BEETHOVEN 410-40024
>1 A Country Dance, Minuet in G, Theme (from the
^ny), The Metronome Theme (from the Eighth Sym-
fale (from the Ninth Symphony). Piano Duet: Al
ii the Seventh Symphony)
iFavorite Waltz (from Waltz in Ab), Waltz, Lullaby,
hdman. Piano Duet: Hungarian Dance No. 5
Nocturne in Eb, Valse in A minor. Prelude, Theme
lliade in Ab major), "Butterfly" Etude. Piano Duet:
(Minuet in F, Air (from Rinaldo), Hornpipe, The Har-
iksmith, Largo (from Xerxes). Piano Duet: Hallelujah
iGypsy Rondo, Minuet and Andante (from the "Sur-
ny), Andante (from the "Clock" Symphony), Beauty
i (The Emperor's Hymn). Piano Duet: The "Toy"
lAllegro and Minuet in F (both composed at age
(Don Juan), Theme (from the Sonata No. 1 1 in A
'from Don Juan). Piano Duet is from No. 39 in
I, composed at age eight.
Hark! Hark! the Lark, Moment Musical, Theme
'hfinished" Symphony). Piano Duet: Military March
t'heme from the "Allegro" of the "Sixth Symphony,"
i"Marche Slav," Theme from "June" (Barcarolle),
he Piano Concerto No. 1. Piano Duet: Troika
:DORE PRESSER co.
fN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA
i!iliili!iililii!iiiiiiiii!ilii!i!n liil. i. 1 . .!.
(Continued from Page
honored by our acceptance and as
much as he has been looking forward
to spending a summer in Tangle-
wood, he has just been offered a job
playing for the summer opera in
New Orleans and since he needs the
money badly he hopes we are not
too inconvenienced by his with
drawal at this time, very truly. Al
ternate lists are brought out and a
telegram goes to Cleveland. Our
young applicant has made it.
The choice of all the other orches
tral students takes place in a like
manner. Auditions, recommendations
by astute musicians, attendance at a
previous Tanglewood session, re
quests from UNESCO, the winning
of a National Federation of Music
Clubs' contest from these and sim
ilar sources the 40 violins. 12 violas.
10 cellos. 10 contrabasses. 5 flutes.
5 oboes. 5 clarinets. 4 bassoons. 8
French Horns. 5 trumpets. 5 trom
bones, the tuba. 3 harps, and 5 per
cussion students are assembled for
work under Leonard Bernstein.
All the orchestral students are
given scholarships but will be obliged
to pay for tlfeir living expenses,
which in the dormitories is $175.
The tuition scholarship in the value
of $150 is part of the Tanglewood
Revolving Scholarship Fund, and
each student signs a promise of will
ingness to repay a like amount when
his circumstances win permit, so
that other orchestras will be able to
assemble in the Shed in years to
come. This intricate procedure of
putting a student orchestra together
from all points of the compass dur
ing the spring weeks, is matched by
other departments and divisions of
Department Two. the choral de
partment, is assembling with a two
fold purpose. It must form a class of
choral conductors for work with
Hugh Ross, and a Small Choir of
40 to 50 choral singers that will
form the nucleus of the great Fes
tival Chorus which will perform
later with the Boston Symphony in
the Berkshire Festival.
Department Three is devoted to
Composition. It is the most restricted
in numbers and accepts students of
what one might call post-graduate
level. After examining a mountainous
heap of scores, about twenty com
posers were accepted in 1952 for
study with either Aaron Copland.
Luigi Dallapicolla or Lukas Foss.
The list of former instructors in
vited from Europe who have been
associated with Copland in Tangle-
wood's Department Three is extraor
dinarily strong in the varied influ
ences which young American com
posers have faced. Past summers
have seen such figures as Hinde-
inirh. Lopatnikoff, Honegger, Mil-
baud, Messiaen, and Ibert in resi
dence at the Berkshire Music Center.
The Opera Department Depart
ment Four of necessity becomes one
of the most complex problems of
assembly. In order to function as a
complete opera theatre, students are
accepted for work here in stage di
recting, scenic design, costuming
and lighting. Student coaches and
stage directors are interviewed. Boris
Goldovsky, the opera's Head, and
other faculty members such as Paul
Ulanovsky and Felix Wolfes listen
to hundreds of singers in various
parts of the country. Those accept
able are assigned to one of three
divisions Active, Associate, or Au
ditor depending upon vocal ability,
knowledge of operatic repertoire,
and character type.
Audition reports, applications, sup
plementary forms with height,
weight, studies, and operatic reper
toire, song repertoire, questionnaires,
and numerous letters, swell the opera
department's files quickly. By June
first they are enormous. But by thai
time there are about fifty singers and
around thirty students chosen for
the other divisions of coaching, stage
directing, and scenic design. These
are all briefed by letter during June
concerning the productions they will
work on during the summer.
At that Faculty Board meeting
more than a year ago. one of the
things most discussed was the choice
of a suitable musician to head De
partment Five. Many musicians and
educators were considered as pos
sible for this invitation until the field
was narrowed down to a California
composer Ingolf Dahl.
Tanglewood's Department Five is
the division to which musical ama
teurs and the less advanced student
are invited. It also is intended for the
music teacher from Arkansas who
wants a clean sweep of new musical
excitement and the New York teacher
who wants to relax under an elm
and listen to the Boston Symphony
Orchestra rehearsing in the distance.
I brought this challenge of the het-
erogenous group to Ingolf Dahl in
California last September, and a
month later we again met in New
York with Aaron Copland. Hugh
Ross, and Thomas Perry to plan a
workable musical activity for De
partment Five renamed the Tan
glewood Study Group.
Enrollment in the Study Group is
simple; it only requires the ability
to read music. In order to keep to
a well-defined and not over-ambitious
project the music to be studied
sung and played was restricted to
16th to 18th century compositions
and simple modern ones adaptable to
groups of various sizes. Here the
amateur flutist during the rest of
the year an industrial engineer, and
the violist who teaches mathematics
at a large university could indulge
in serious music-making under ex
pert guidance, for fun.
Another factor which sought to
the Taniilewood Study Group
oils musical holiday was to per-
wo-week and four-week enroll-
in it, as well as for the usual
eeks of the session. The 110
joined the work with Ingolf
jaUn sanj; in the Festival Chorus
I Charles Munch, listened to
,jn Symphony rehearsals and
iilh it were, a constant bird's-eye
(Mof Tanglewood's numerous ac-
ijljs. The nature of Tanglewood's
I ties its 40 or so student con-
fa its lecture courses is one of
t ominant problems during the
tr mouths of planning.
I nunl Bernstein says he would
he student orchestra to play
Iff' "Don Quixote" at one of
JJekly concerts. Fine. But will we
il a cellist strong enough for
jjlo part? Mr. Munch plans the
ilz "Requiem." Will our brass
Ints be capable of taking part in
I ctra bauds which the score re-
14? Will the choral repertoire
jaogni/anci- of the newest trends
iral writing and still give con
's and -in<rers enough of the
: repertoire? William Kroll
; ts that an American work be
ed on each of the six chamber-
concerts. Is the talent avail
able in the Department to undertak
this? Hugh Ross would like to in
elude a new work on a Small Choi
program which needs 13 instruments
Can some students of orchestra am
chamber-music find lime for this
The opera department's major pro
duclion will be Mo/art's "Titus.
The orchestra for it is small an<
needs few winds. What work can
he found for the remainder of til*
orchestra now largely woodwind
and brass? The Heifet/. Award. th<
I'iatigorsky Prize, the Wechsle
Award must be given to worthy tal
ents at the end of the session. Are
they appearing in the enrollment?
The winter meetings in New York
and Boston for such problems anc
for the discussion of ideas which
occur to thinking musicians seeking
as a group to carry out an ideal
makes the year go by quickly. Tan
glewood's ideal is a living and work
ing in music by a body of musician*
and music students seeking to fur
ther the art they serve, and also to
further the art of this country.
For those of us who work for Tan-
glewood there is not much time to
slow down. July 1953 and Tangle-
wood's eleventh session are almost
here. THE END
SMALL PIPE ORGANS
CAN BE EFFECTIVE
(Continued from Puge 24)
ne era is that, compared with
my orchestras of that day. it
e only instrument capable of
a cathedral with sound,
y instrument has its charac-
tinibre. its individual tone-
An organ which is voiced with
clmique used by Mr. White
to an astonishing degree
we think of as characteristic
tone. It is the sort of tone
;. There is no fat llute tone
ter I lie sound: one is not con-
of loud solo stops as such,
merge* i> a fine "chorus" tone
ed by an unusually small nuin-
luch for the small Miiller. The
is equally worth investigat-
ne of these sjnall organs is
ed in the chapel of the Uni-
of Chicago, another is at the
sity of Michigan, and a third
he Metropolitan Museum of
Rieger is one of the most in-
sly built organs of our time,
rallv any music can be played
as Robert Noeliren of the Uni-
of Michigan proves when he
demonstrates the Rieger.
It may not be quite fair to place
the Rieger in the same category with
the small Miiller and other small
organs now being built in the United
States. The Miiller has about 200
pipes: the Rieger has something
over 1200. Obviously, then, in sheer
physical resources the Rieger has
about a six to one advantage to start
On the other hand, the Rieger can
only be classified as a small iu~lru-
ment. It occupies little more floor
space than a grand piano, its entire
assembly is less than eight feet high,
and il i> semi-portable. Within this
tight space is fitted a complete organ,
two manuals and pedal, with twenty-
one registers and twenty-three ranks
a very respectable total.
Comparing the Miiller and Rieger
instruments, it might be said that
the Miiller represents fine results
achieved with absolute economy of
means, while the Rieger is an in
strument of ample resources tied up
in an unusually neat package. Both
reflect highest credit on the men re
sponsible for their design and con
struction. THE E>n
ERNESTO BERUMEN ENDORSES GUIl
Address. La Forqe-Berumen Studios
1040 Park Aye.. New York 28. N. Y
"Congratulations, Dr. Allison!
To my mind, the outstanding thing about
Guild is the outside adjudication. The stu
becomes accustomed to his teacher's ways
to the repeated commendations and correct
When the adjudicator, who is a stranger, s(
some of the same things in different wore
re-awakens the pupil to renewed efforts."
NATIONAL GUILD OF PIANO TEACHERS
Founded 1929 by hi Allison M.A., Mat. D.
BERKSHIRE MUSIC CENTER
Charles Munch, Director
Aaron Copland, Assistant Director
A summer school of music maintained by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
connection with the Berkshire Festival concerts.
X July 5 to August 16
Courses in Orchestra & Conducting (Leonard Bernstein), Chamber Mi
(William Kroll), Chorus (Hugh Ross), Composition (Aaron Copland S Cai
Chavez), and Opera (Boris Goldovsky). Faculty includes twenty members
the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including the Principals.
, Tanglewood Study Group Ingolf Dahl
A special course for music educators, general music students and amateurs. Enr
ments of two, four, or six weeks.
for Catalog please address Miss E. Bossier
Berkshire Music Center
Symphony Hall. Boston 15. Massachusetts
Solid Silver Flutes Piccolos
108 ffiassadiugfttg Sbe. Boston 15, #1
THE JOY BOOKS by Nell Wait Harvey
JOY BOOK No. One S1.M
Easiest, lorii'al approach to piano pi nine
JOY BOOK No. Two. . il 10
Urlirhlful follow-up book.
JOY BOOK No. Three SIM
Beautiful melodies, (rrat variety In style
and expression. ^ JQy
PtAY FOB JOY I
A beflnninc piano book for older thll
FROM AN OLD LEGEND I
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studies becinninff at Early Intrral
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WHAT EVERY ACCOMPANIST KNOWS 41
si.ic of the net to respond to the demands of the game, so in
evaluation by music-critics, it would seem, the efforts of
both partners in music-making should be considered.
Ihis code towards accompanists is reminiscent of
critical practice a generation ago in the reviewing of string
quartet performances. Until fairly recently the first violinist
'1 a string quartet was considered its 'leader', and one
would read, as for instance in a George Bernard Shaw
mus.c review of ,890, 'every quartet I have heard Joachim
lead this season has renewed and increased my admiration
him . The music critic of to-day, hand-in-hand with all
serious artists, is building a solid musical culture in this
untry. He would not distort for his readers the absolute
equality of a string quartet when wridng, say, of the
Budapest Quartet, by considering solely Mr Josef Rois-
mann, its first violinist. And therefore the plea of the
accompanist to-day is certainly not for undue prominence
It is rather a hope that his work will receive critical evalua
tion commensurate with the part a composer has given him
Because his role is a vital one, the musician at the piano
tries, by a nice combination of qualities, to serve mus i c an d
also enhance the characteristics of the soloist's art. Detailed
and painstaking rehearsab have taken place to establish
correctly the numerous facets which go to make up an
artistic performance. How much care must be exerted to
maintain correct proportions if, for example, in a certain
phrase the piano is to recede to the merest murmur and
then a few moments later by its rhythmic drive to come to
the forefront of the music's expression. And yet after much
consideration, discussion and rehearsal it sometimes
happens that there is, as one hears so bh'thely stated, 'not
enough piano', or 'too much piano'. This is an easy pit-
fall for even the most experienced accompanists and an
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gil Thomson has collected many
rws and reprinted them as they c
the Mew York Herald-Tribune. Ai
found, are not ignored in all of
e space of a few pages evaluates m
ennie Tourel, Efrem Zimbalist, J
Stern. Miss Tourel's programme
songs in which the piano is of pri
the violinists' programmes inc
oven, Mozart, Richard Strauss
his witty and often penetrating
:r did not find it within himself to
erning the accompanist's role at a
happens that the accompanists
:h Itor-Kahn, Vladimir Sok
id Alexander Zakin, four of the
" their confraternity. Whatever
their musical existence at these
works requiring a
formers, no works
panist's name doei
eminent cridc Vir
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Emmanuel Bay ai
flight members oi
formances cannot v
play a set of tennis
WHAT EVERY ACCOMPANIST KNOWS 43
heard it'. On the other hand, there are numerous smaller
halk where the tone appears to stop dead on the stage,
and simply refuses to move to its required destination. In
between there are all sorts of acoustical posers. There is the
stage where one barely hears oneself, yet is assured by
listeners that everything is luscious and brilliant. Con
versely the impression on the stage may be wonderful,
but people arrive back-stage after the concert and com
plain that they didn't hear a note.
Tonal balance, therefore, faces the pair of artists in each
concert hall as a fresh issue. And if they continue to wrangle
over it after two hundred concerts together, don't think
they are temperamental or partially deaf. The fact is that
both are in the worst positions possible to judge of each
other's sound. The soloist, vocal or instrumental, is some
what to the front of the piano, but none the less close to it.
Therefore it usually sounds to him like an augmented
symphony orchestra; so his usual plea is for not too much
piano, and the hope that you will Vemember that he
doesn't want to force his tone, and not to forget that the
although of a familiar timbre, seems to emanate from a
the thought of how comfortably you could carry on a con
versation with someone sitting with his back to you, who
continues speaking while you speak, to realize that when
two performers play superbly well together, and of course,
it is being done at numerous recitals under all sorts of
conditions, both artists are responsible for the solution of
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WHAT EVERY ACCOMPANIST KNOWS 45
part in this decision. The great vocalists and instrument
alists must possess an extraordinary combination within
themselves, and in the proper mixture, of enormous talent,
expert training and knowledge, an ability to work and
S 5 u
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i u * i;
A pianist, therefore, who finds himself deflected from the
narrow and arduous path leading to a solo career, because
of widening interest in the vast fields of chamber-music,
and vocal and instrumental works of all kinds, will as likely
as not find that there are opportunities for him in the field
Soon enough he discovers whether he is born to the task.
In the same manner in which a soloist requires a rare
combination of qualities, the true accompanist finds that
he also needs a certain measure of elements fitting nicely
together which will permit him to function properly. After
the basic one of mastery of his instrument, he requires that
special talent which many piano soloists do not have and
which they generally do not need. This is the ability to play
with someone else. Simple as the requirement sounds, it is
actually the rarest gift even among many very talented
musicians. The day is gone, of course, when one thought
of the accompanist as a musician whose job it was 'to
follow*. Following is the one thing an artist wishes an
accompanist not to do. Actually it is anticipation, together
with the ability to feel and grasp instantaneously those
qualities which go towards making the artist's individuality
stand out in performance. These inflections, nuances and
other means of musical expression, the gifted accompanist
can sense at the very instant they are to be accomplished.
their problems and the successful projection of the com-
We may now very well ask, since from a purely musical
viewpoint it seems unjustifiable, why the accompanist's
name does appear at the bottom of the page in small type.
The engagements of a soloist are obtained on the
strength of his reputation, and the question who the
accompanist for these concerts may be will not have the
slightest bearing on their being secured. An artist and his
manager feel, with the greatest justification, that people
who buy tickets for recitals do so because of the artist's
general appeal to that public, and again, the accompanist s
role here does not aid in the sale of a single ticket - or
perhaps one or two at most. So to give both performers, as
Hollywood says, equal billing, seems entirely unjustified in
respect to those demons which forever prey on the soloist's
mind - reputation and box-office.
An accompanist, therefore, cannot aid the soloist in
obtaining his engagements, nor can he beof any import
ance in the sale of tickets. But he should, and does, play a
vital part in the artistic domain when the engagements are
actually being fulfilled. Thus it is that the relationship
between an artist and his accompanist is a close one in the
reahn of musical artistry, and distant in the material one of
fees, and the size of type in which their names appear.
Accompanists do not like to be classified as disappointed
soloists. Of course they all began the study of the piano and
for years worked at it in the same fashion and perhaps with
the same tnd in view as those who remained in the pro
fession as solo pianists. But somewhere along the road there
were various influences which made themselves felt and
served to deflect their soloistic zeal. Self-knowledge is prob
ably not one of the cardinal virtues of musicians as a class,
yet in many instances where gifted, extremely competent
To follow' after a fait accompli in the soloist's playing or
singing can only be for the auditor a disturbing and useless
effort, even though he may know nothing of the manner in
which artistic performances are created.
The accompanist who develops the 'technique' of his
art finds that he is creating for himself the ability to absoxb
quickly (and master instrumentally) works from eveiv
epoch of musical art. He becomes conversant with opera,
oratorio, cantatas and lieder; he gets to know sonatas,
fantasias and concertos from pre-Handel to post-Copland!
By the very nature of being required to learn a great
amount of music he develops a wider musical vision than
i vouchsafed to the specialists of flying octaves and
His technique also requires that he occasionally transpose
songs to new keys so that a soprano with a touch of stage-
fright may be spared the embarrassment of missing a high
More often than not he is a first-rate chamber-music
player with a real love for piano trios, quartets and quin
tets; so that in addition to knowing the standard repertoire
he can sit down and play at sight some unknown-trio by
Raff or a new sextet by Poulenc.
The abilities just described must be wide enough to
embrace such important factors as a keen sense of rhythm
and a fine ear for tone-colour.
With the accumulation of these qualities he becomes
eligible for the one word which means most to performers
in every category, especially when spoken by a fellow-artist ;
he is a 'musician'.
In addition .to all this an accompanist must have a
psychological viewpoint towards musical interpretation,
which permits him to see virtue in someone else's ideas of
Letter from Los Angeles
The Violoopa in the Hollywood Hills
By Ralph Berkowitz
If you ever write to a musician in Los Angeles don't take the
trouble to look for his address in the telephone book. If your friend
makes more than $475 a week (and which musician out there makes
less?) he will have issued a strict injunction to the telephone people
not to print his name and address. This is de rigueur, and also avoids
unsought meetings with cousins from the hinterlands who happen
to have an Aircoach round-trip with stop-over privileges permitting
a tour of Beverly Hills.
So it is that recently in order to find a Hollywood address I went
straight to the heart of the matter and thumbed through the Mu
sicians' Directory of Local 47, A.F. of M., Los Angeles, California,
a tidy volume which most Los Angelenos would as soon be without
as a pair of turquoise nylon shorts. The little book contains the names
and addresses of musicians who pay their yearly dues to the Los
Angeles Local; its second half lists these same musicians under the
Ralph Berkowitz is Dean of the Berkshire
Music Center at Tanglewood, an institution
which, like Juilliard, evidently does not offer
major instruction in "violoopa" or "jug." A
painter as well as pianist, Mr. Berkowitz has
recently had a one-man exhibition of his work
in Philadelphia. He is this season giving sixty-
four lectures on "Related Arts" at the Phil
adelphia Museum School of Art
Letter from Los Angeles
instrument which they serve in the practice of their art. I was
slightly shaken as I went along, to notice in firm bold print along
with such stand-bys as 'clarinet' and 'string bass' the instruments
'basifon' and 'bass can.'
Now I am a musician from way back who can hold his own with
the Harvard boys in any discussion of hidden fifths in Brahms or
the realization of a figured bass in a Bach Cantata. I can also sound
wise when it comes to the cancrizans of a tone-row in Schoenberg,
but I realized that Local 47, A.F. of M., had me when it came to a
'basifon' or a 'bass can.'
A good musician is an honest soul and one thing, as Cherubini
said, leads to another. Having chanced upon 'basifon' and 'bass can'
under the B's, I thought that the rest of the alphabet would perhaps
reveal a few more instruments native to the Hollywood Hills. Missing
50 or 60 pages in my ardor, I came up suddenly among the V's and
ran my finger slowly down the list. There they all were : 'viola,' 'viola
da gamba,' 'viola de pardessus' how many musicians' unions in the
whole world could boast of listing players of this dignified old
beauty? 'viola d'amour.' Fine: Local 47 was but another proof that
Hollywood had drawn to it the cream of the world's artists. 'Viola
d'amour,' with its lovely name linked in the mind's eye to Bach and
Frederick the Great and Potsdam and Voltaire, was followed, how
ever, by 'violoopa.' Yes, 'violoopa,' and underneath it, the name of
Harry Lewis, its sole practitioner in the vast reaches *of Los Angeles
County. Did Harry invent the 'violoopa' or had he discovered it in
the Copenhagen Museum? Did he work for long years to perfect
this new achievement in man's search for self-expression, or had he
walked into Wurlitzer's and bought one for $79.50, black leatherette
case and music stand included? I don't think I'll ever know. But I
do know that if Jack Warner or Sam Goldwyn want a 'violoopa' in
their next opus, Harry Lewis is their man. Close on Harry's heels
came 'Washboard' and 'Artistic Whistling." Lawrence Vogt is the
'Washboard' boy and even the thought of Larry practicing wasn't
fascinating enough to stop me from reading the six names of the
'Artistic Whistlers.' Nothing could persuade me that three of them
weren't more artistic than the other three. When I engage an Artistic
Whistler my choice will be either Ruby O'Hara, Rubye Whitaker or
As in all other fields of American enterprise, music in Hollywood
is undoubtedly controlled by the laws of supply and demand. Yet one
is given cause for wonder and serious reflection by some of the
statistics in Local 47's directory. There are for instance no less than
2,036 dues-paying clarinet players but only four are listed as avail
able for the contra-bass clarinet. Similarly there are about 2,400
violinists vying for those lush moments accompanying screen credits
at the opening of a picture, but only two of the boys have taken up
the 'electric violin.' For all its vaunted progressiveness I think Holly
wood is lagging here.
Some of the instruments listed in the directory, such as 'Gooch-
Gadget,' 'Cow Bells,' 'Chinese Moon Harp' or 'Goofus Horn' are so
patently required by the wide demands of the film industry that one
easily understands their sharing directory space with the piano,
English concertina, or mandolin. But when you stumble upon a 'Jug'
or 'Music Cutter' the problem becomes deeper. What for instance
does one do with a 'Jug,' and how is it practiced? Is it blown into,
scratched with a mandolin pick or tapped with drum sticks? Sim
ilarly with the work of Louise Field, who is down as the only 'Music
Cutter' in the Local. Does she, I wonder, work with shears or a razor
blade? Is she engaged by slow-witted pianists who don't know what
to leave out in Liszt's 6th Hungarian Rhapsody, or does she get along
entirely on her own, snipping a phrase^here, a cadence there, and in
general reducing compositions to size?
Of all the instruments which have sprouted in the halls of Local
47 down on Vine Street only one has achieved international renown.
This, of course, is the 'bazooka' which Bob Burns immortalized. Its
other exponent, Clyde B. (Rusty) Jones, has not, to my knowledge at
least, developed his public to the point of becoming a household name
who can pull down $2,000 for an appearance. I feel certain that others
among these instrumentalists .are only biding their time, waiting
for the nation to learn the fascination of the 'Drumbukki,' the
'Linnette' or the 'Marimbula.'
On the other hand, such a well-known phenomenon of musical art
as the 'One Man Band,' indigenous to every Amateur Hour, is rep
resented in Southern California by only three union men! Here
again is one of those strangely unbalanced situations. For, while
there are only three 'One Man Bands' paying dues, there are 3,652
Letter from Los Angeles
pianists, enough to give piano recitals in Carnegie Hall every night
including -Sunday s for the next ten years, before one of them has
to learn a new program.
I like to think that, like musicians all over the world, the Holly
wood folk also enjoy getting together now and then for an evening
of chamber music. What repertoire, for instance, wafts out over the
smog when Obed 0. Pickard, Jr. at the 'Autoharp,' Friday Leitner
on the 'Tin Whistle,' H. Garcia Granada on the 'Bandurria,' and
Dorothy Hollowell at the 'Bass Can' get together? Can it be that they
let go on a transcription of Schubert's Death and the Maiden quartet,
or is it now and then a slow movement from one of the opus 18*s?
Or perhaps Irving Riskin, the Local's 'Tune Detective' comes forth
with an original work for the combination, something midway be
tween a Chopin Ballade and the third act of Wozzeck. Whatever the
case may be, I do hope for an invitation to one of these get-togethers
on my next trip to the coast. Come to think of it, I'm going to stop
in at Wurlitzer's in the morning and try to pick up a violoopa. That
way I'd be able to join in the fun.
Original Music for Four Hands
A Reference Article of Real Value to Teachers
Ralph Berkowiti, successful Philadelphia pianist and teacher, is now on a trans
continental tour with the noted violoncellist, Gregor Piatigorsky. EDITOR'S NOTE.
FEW PIANO MASTERWORKS are as little
known as those for two players at one in
strument. Many pianists as well as music
lovers are probably unaware of the richness and
variety of original music for four hands, a reper
toire considerably larger than that for two pianos.
There is a peculiar misconception in most
people's minds concerning piano duets. These are
generally thought to consist of orchestral and
chamber music arrangements, and, perhaps, some
salon pieces by Moszkowski and Scharwenka.
Most duet collections, as a matter of fact, are
made up of these very things. Yet almost all the
great masters composed four-hand music; and
in some instances one may discover truly re
markable works in this medium. The finest of
these compositions are much more than piano
pieces set for a larger range than one pianist
can manage. The great piano duets are essen
tially great pieces of chamber music.
Let us make a brief survey and point out some
of the more important and interesting composi
tions of this repertoire. For a truly rewarding
experience pianists should, of course, play and
study this type of ensemble music for themselves.
In addition to five duo sonatas, Mozart wrote
a charming set of Variations in G, a Fugue in
G minor, and two Fantasias, both in F minor.
These Fantasias, originally composed for a musi
cal clock, were arranged by Mozart himself for
four hands, a setting more in accordance with
their rich musical content. The "F major Sonata"
(K. 497), composed at the height of his creative
life, is one of Mozart's greatest chamber music
works. This "Sonata" is a veritable model for all
other four-hand music and is pervaded by that
atmosphere of sublimity which is felt in Mozart's
greatest products. The "Sonata in C major" (K.
521) is also a vigorous work; stirring, imagina
tive, and rich in melodic beauty.
Beethoven's four-hand works were all written-
in his early years. These include the "Sonata
Opus 6," "Three Marches" and two sets of Varia
tions, one on a theme of Count Waldstein's and
the other on an original song. Both sets of
Variations are filled with a delightful and spon
taneous charm. They are Mozartean in a sense,
but, as in much of Beethoven's early works, there
are moments foreshadowing the Beethoven of
Of all who composed four-hand music, Schu
bert was the most prolific. His works fill four
volumes in Peters' Edition and run to nearly five
hundred pages. Here are compositions from every
period of Schubert's tragically short life, many
of them works of superb beauty and profundity.
"FORWARD MARCH WITH MUSIC" I
JANUARY, 1944 ~1
The Prolific Melodist
The Fantaisie in F minor, Opus 103 begins with
a theme which is perhaps one of the most haunt-
ingly beautiful in all the wealth of Schubertian
melody. The whole Fantaisie is an intensely mov
ing and dramatic work, rich in invention and
beautifully scored for the instrument. Another
work in which the theme itself is unforgettably
beautiful is that of the
Variations in A flat
Op. 35. This is the best
of Schubert's five sets
of duet Variations and
is technically very ex
acting. The work as a
whole is endowed with
a particularly enchant
ing grace, but in some
grave passages there
are moments of har
monic boldness with
which Schubert con
tinues to surprise us
after more than a cen
The "Grand Duo
i Sonata) in C major,
Op. 140" is believed by
some musicologists to
be Schubert's own
ment of his lost "Ga-
stein" Symphony. But
since other authorities
question that a so-
called "Gastein" Symphony was ever written, the
matter is another of those intriguing problems
which constantly confronts musical historians.
There is little doubt, however, that the "Grand
Duo" is more orchestral in conception than any
of Schubert's other four-hand music. It is a
spacious work of symphonic proportions, and on
every page one finds some extraordinary touch
of the inspired Schubert. There is a fine orches
tration of this "Grand Duo" by Joseph Joachim.
And there is one of the F minor Fantaisie by
Ernst von Dohnanyi. Conductors should occa
sionally permit us to hear these works.
It is possible to mention here only a few of the
other Schubert compositions, which present a
wide range of form and style. Of the larger
works there is the tempestuous Allegro, Leben-
stiirme. Op. 144, and the charming "Divertisse
ment a la Hongroise," Op. 54. Among the short
er works are the many "Marches," one of which.
the ever-popular Marche Militiare, is known in*
Brahms' first and only big work for piano duet
is his Variations on a Theme of Schumann, Op.
23. The theme Is Schumann's so-called "last
thought" which he wrote when already mentally
unsound, believing that the spirits of Mendels
sohn and Schubert had sent it to him. Brahms'
Variations are poetic, profound, and masterfu'
From the Master Brahms
It is not generally realized that the "Waltzes
Op. 39" and the "Hungarian Dances" were com
posed as original four-hand music, although
they are now better known in several other ar
rangements. The only other Brahms works for
piano duet are the two sets of "Liebeslieder,"
Op. 52 and Op. 65. These have a quartet of voices
which are, however, not indispensable they are
marked ad libitum in the first set but, of
course, the music gains much by a performance
with the vocal parts.
One of the most attractive pieces in all the
repertoire is Mendelssohn's scintillating Allegro
Brillant, Op. 92. He composed this strikingly
effective work for a performance with Clara
Schumann. An Andante and Variations Op. 83a
is the only other Men
in this medium.
Lake Brahms' "Hun
garian Dances," Dvorak
composed his delight
ful "Slavonic Dancds"
as original four-hand
music. These two cap
tivating volumes, Op.
46 and Op. 72, are ad
mirably designed for
the instrument. Dvorak
maintained a charac
teristically high stand
ard in his duets and
they are a constant
joy for four-hand play
ers. In addition to the
"Slavonic Dances" his
works include the
Legende Op. 59; From
the Bohemian Forest,
Opus 68; a "Suite";
and a Polonaise.
Many modern com
posers have sought to
explore the possibilities
of duet-writing. Their variety and range. of ac
complishment is highly interesting. From the
large number of such compositions there is the
amusing suite "Pupazzetti" by Casella; Rach
maninoff's "Six Morceaux', Op. 11"; and Stravin
sky's "Trois Pieces Faciles," afld Francois
Poulenc's witty "Sonata." Ravel's famous "Ma
Mere 1'Oye" is also an original four-hand suite,
and ona of Debussy's maturest works, "Six
fipigraphes Antiques," is a splendid example of
modern craftsmanship in this medium. His
"Petite Suite" is better known in various
Finally, there is the Hindemith "Sonata," a
significant work. This is one of the newest addi
tions to the repertoire, and the product of an
outstanding musical mentality.
Perhaps this brief survey will serve to indicate
the scope and interest of original four-hand
music to those oianists (Continued on Page 61)
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He's Worn Many Hats
Nancy Lee Harper: You are perhaps best known
in your capacity as pianist in collaboration with
Gregor Piatigorsky. How and when did this asso
Ralph Berkowitz: I met Piatigorsky for the first
time in 1940 in Philadelphia. He had been playing
with Valentine Pavlovsky who became very sick,
so he asked if I could join him for a few concerts.
Those few concerts turned into thirty years of
playing together in many parts of the world. I had
heard Piatigorsky in his debut concerts with the
Philadelphia Orchestra in 1 928 when he first came
to the United Slates, but at that time I never
thought that he would become a very close friend,
collaborator, and life-long companion.
NH: Did you ever argue?
KB: No, we didn't really argue. You can play with
some people and have no chemistry or musical
contact. I still remember our first few concerts. The
third or fourth one was in Orchestra Hall in Chi
cago. It was a program which included the
Brahms E minor Sonata. We had not played this
sonata at previous concerts. The days went by and
I finally said, "You know, we really ought to
rehearse that piece." Piatigorsky said, "Yes, of
course we have to." But it never happened. And I
give you my word that we sat on the stage of
Chicago's Orchestra Hall and played that work
together for the first time! Of course he had to have
more confidence in me than 1 in him.
NH: Piatigorsky is quoted as saying, "When you
get to the top of the mountain stay there and look
around for a while." Did he mean this as a refer
ence to a musical phrase, or was there another
RB: (laughing) Well, of course that ought to apply
to a musical phrase! Being a man of wealth (he was
married to Jacqueline de Rothschild), Piatigorsky
could afford not to play when he didn't wish to
and, as a matter of fact, in later years he played
very little. So in that sense "he looked around." He
taught at the University of Southern California
and had a class of devoted young cellists includ
ing Nathaniel Rosen and Lawrence Lesser. His
interest in young people was really very special.
Once when we played in Seoul, a young family, a
father and mother with their three little children,
came to the hotel to meet Piatigorsky. The chil
dren were perhaps four, five and six years old.
One played the cello, one the violin, and the other
played the piano. Piatigorsky was so taken with
the talent of these children that he gave the family
money to come to America. Years later "Grischa"
and I went to a high school in Beverly Hills and
heard those three children who were by then
teenagers. One of the girls was Kyung-Wha
Chung, who is now one of the great violinists of
the world, and the pianist-brother has just been
named the director of the Bastille Opera in Paris.
Piatigorsky was kind to many young people giv
ing them bows, helping them acquire cellos, etc.
He was not only interested in them as musicians
but as human beings.
NH: Did family members travel with Piatigorsky
on your tours?
RB: Mrs. Piatigorsky did, especially in the later
years. Sometimes Pialigorsky would be joined by
his mother-in-law, the Baroness de Rothschild.
She and her husband, Baron Eduard, were very
close to Grischa. Once in Florence we were joined
by the Baroness. She had received an invitation to
the home of Bernard Bcrenson, the legendary art
SPRING 1991 The I'iuno Quarterly No. 153 43
critic. (I Ito villa in Horcncc is now owned by
Harvard University.) Later in the afternoon I had
lea with the Baroness, and I asked her if it had
been a large lunch party. She replied, "Oh, a very
small one, just myself and the Uerensons." And
then she hesitated and said, "No, wait a minute.
The King and Queen of Sweden were also with
NH: The two of you produced an enormous
number of recordings for RCA Victor and Colum
bia. What were some of those recording sessions
RB: We began recording for Columbia perhaps in
1941 or 1942. The first work was Beethoven's
Sonata in D Major, Op. 102/2. That was the time
of the 78' s. The maximum playing time was 4'20"
and the disk had to have no errors on it; otherwise,
you did it again and again and again. You would
have to try again if you exceeded 4'20". Recording
then was much more difficult than recording onto
tape. Still, I remember that when we recorded the
Hindemith Cello Sonata (1948) for RCA (and, by
the way, we premiered the work at Tanglewood )
to everyone's horror it was discovered that eight
bars had been lost in editing the tape. I had to go
from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in order to
record those eight measures.
NH: You were bom on Septembers, 1910, in New
York City, to parents of Rumanian descent. Nei
ther were musicians. Please pick it up from there.
RB: I began piano lessons when I was five or six.
My father especially encouraged me by taking me
to concerts and to the Metropolitan Opera. I par
ticularly remember an early teacher, Emil Polak,
who was a very fine coach and accompanist. He
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had been a pupil of Dvonik in Now York. I must
have been in nw early leena when 1 decided to
become a musician. I told my parents I did not
want to attend regular high school. I wanted to go
to a music school. Around 1924 or 1925 1 went to
the Institute of Musical Art, which later became
the Juilliard School. I took courses in theory, har
mony, and art history, but no piano lessons.
NH: Who were some of the pianists you heard in
your student days?
RB: I was certainly very impressed with
Hermann, Rachmaninoff, and Gieseking. I re
member vividly also the enormous playing of
Moritz Rosenthal. I heard de Pachmann play and
saw his antics on the stage. You know he was one
of those people who acted as if he were crazy. For
instance, he would walk onto the stage of Carne
gie Hall and immediately walk back to the wings
and come out with another man who would lift
the end of the piano and slip a sheet of paper
under the leg to make it more level. Or he would
sometimes, with his right forefinger, point at his
left hand as if to say, "You see what my left hand
can do?" Actually he was a very beautiful pianist.
Other great pianists 1 heard then were Donald
Francis To vey, Ossip Gabrilowitch, Harold Bauer,
Mischa Levitski, who died after a short but bril
liant career, Myra Hess, the wonderful English
pianist, and Guiomar Novaes.
NH: How did you decide upon the Curtis Insti
tute or rather how did it decide on you?
RB: In 1928, the first year the Curtis Institute
offered full tuition (which it still does for all stu
dents), I auditioned and was accepted. They only
took a few pianists in those days. To tell you the
truth, I don't know why they ac
cepted me. I had absolutely no
idea of music. I was truly a musi
cal illiterate, but I must have
shown something, some pianis-
lic talent. The jury included Isa
bella Vengerova, David Saper-
lon, Abram Chasins, and, I be
lieve, Alexander Lambert. If they
chose you, then you had to re
turn to Philadelphia and play for
the director Josef Hofmann. He
was already a legend in those
days. My father had taken me to
Carnegie Hall to hear Hofmann
44 The Piano Quarterly No. 153
many times. I felt about Hofmann what a kid who
loves baseball would have felt if he came face lo
face with Uabe Ruth. Rachmaninoff used to say
that Hofmann was the greatest pianist who ever
I was assigned to study with Isabella
Vengerova. She had been a notable musician in
Russia and was one of the first pianists to play the
works of Brahms in that country, especially his
chamber works. Her instruction was utterly new
to me and utterly strange from a mechanical point
of view. Vengerova was a terribly hard taskmas
ter, very autocratic, and in a sense rather cruel to
her students. She always had her students come
into the studio at the time of their lesson and wait
even if she was not yet finished with the previous
lesson. Samuel Barber use to follow my lesson.
One day Mme. Vengerova was saying something
like, "You know you played the Bach pretty well
today, and such and such is coming along very
nicely." At that moment in walked Sammy Barber
and sat down. As soon as she saw him she said,
"And I don't know why you don't practice. It's
not right for you not to work as hard as you can."
That gave me an insight into her nature. Years
later, Leonard Bcrmilein aid that Mine.
Vengerova was the only person who could terror
ize him! Imagine someone who could terrorize
NH: And did she terrorize vou?
RB: Always. Always.
NH: What was her approach like?
RB: First of all, she was very determined to get the
sound that she was looking for. Tone production
to her was the ne plus ultra of piano playing. She
started every student with very slow scales, an
enormous legato, the fingers overlapping one
another in order to make sounds coalesce.
NH: What were Vengerova's strengths as a
RB: She was a very experienced teacher a great
diagnostician, and she imparted a sense of integ
rity and a sense of the importance of making
music. She was endless in her ambition to keep
students working and devoted to music. Thaf s
quite a contribution to young people.
NH: The name Felix Salmond is not exactly a
household word, and yet you have said that he
was the greatest musical influence on your life.
PIANO PERSPECTIVES '91
For more Information:
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25 School Lane, Scarsdale, NY 10583
A Two-Day Conference Presenting
Perspectives on the Art of Teaching
June 17 & 10, 1991
The State University of New York
The Piano Quarterly
The Hoff-Oarthelson Music School
The Piano Quarterly No. 153 45
RB: Salmond was an Englishman who came to the
Slalcs aboul 1924 or 1925. Me became the head of
the cello department at the Curtis and at the
Juilliard School. He produced many of the great
cellists of yesterday and today. The first cellists of
the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra,
and the Chicago Symphony were students of his.
His knowledge of music and his sense of musical
style were superb. His mother had been a student
of Clara Schumann. And while Felix never played
the piano, he knew the piano repertoire as well as
any pianist. It may interest you to know that many
of the great pianists of the 30s and 40s first played
their programs privately for Felix Salmond and
that included men like Josef Lhevinne and Arthur
Rubinstein. Salmond knew everything by mem
ory, any cello part in any quartet. He knew the
piano and song literature just as well. Were he
alive today he would still be an important musi
cian, cellist, and teacher.
I don't want to overlook the great influence
on me of another sensitive artist and beautiful
pianist, Harry Kaufman. He organized the accom
panying department at Curtis.
NH: You were also the dean at Tanglewood.
Piatigorsky was the head of the chamber music
department. Did he help you get the position?
RB: No. Tanglewood is the summer home of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. The assistant man
ager of the BSO was Thomas Perry, a former pupil
of mine. He asked me to come, but I told him I'd
never worked behind a desk and wouldn't know
what to do. But many months later he sent me a
telegram while I was in Caracas on tour with
Piatigorsky telling me the job was still open. I
discussed it with Piatigorsky who said, "What do
you have to lose? You'll have a nice summer and
your family will enjoy it." So I became Kousse-
vitsky's assistant until his death in 1951, and then
I was named dean of what is now called the
Tanglewood Music Center.
NH: Did those duties intrude upon your concer-
RB: No. I had to be in Boston one week out of the
month to assign scholarships and the like. I was
also a member of the Audition Committee. We
went around to a dozen cities each spring listen
ing to performers. At the same time I was travel
ing with Piatigorsky and I also taught. And I
began going to Albuquerque to play in a chamber
music series called the June Music Festival. I went
Ihcrc for Ihe next for twenty-five years.
NH: You've met some important people at Tan
glewood and throughout your travels.
RB: Of all the conductors with whom I was asso
ciated my closest attachment was to Dr. Kousse-
vitzky. He was not only a musical genius in the
broad sense, and I don't use that word lightly, but
he had a vision, an imagination, and an inspira
tional way with young musicians.
I knew Walter Damrosch slightly when he
was the conductor of the New York Symphony
not the New York Philharmonic. Damrosch was
the man who brought Tschaikovsky to New York
when they opened Carnegie Hall in 1890. He was
a friend of Wagner. He knew Liszt. Mr. Damrosch
heard me play on various occasions. Felix Sal
mond and I played a Brahms sonata at his 75th
birthday celebration in 1937. It was given at the
home of Harry Harkness Flagler, a New York
Pierre Monteux used to come to Tangle-
wood when Charles Munch was the director.
Monteux and Koussevitzky were never close, so
that in all the years of Koussevitzky's reign, Mr.
Monteux never conducted the BSO. I sat with him
once at a concert during which Lukas Foss played
his own Second Piano Concerto. As it was going
on, Mr. Monteux mumbled under his breath, "Oh
terrible! Oh dreadful! Oh terrible!" After the per
formance I said to him, "Mr. Monteux, of course
you remember that when you conducted Strav
insky's Sacre du Prinlcmps in Paris it caused a
scandal and everyone said it was terrible and
dreadful, and now you are saying the same thing
about Lukas Foss' concerto."
"Ah, yes," he said, "they were wrong then
and now I am right."
I was once at a dinner party at the Piati-
gorskys, given for Charlie Chaplin, his wife, and
Arthur Rubinstein. It remains in my memory
mainly because Chaplin spoke until 2 or 3 A.M.,
telling stories of Hollywood and constructing or
making up part of the story of the movie he was
working on called Limelight. He seemed to be
improvising. The extraordinary thing was that he
referred to himself as "he." He never spoke in the
first person. What was most memorable about
Chaplin, close up, was the power of his eyes and
the use of his hands. His hands were always
46 The Piano Quarterly No. 153
mobile, always moving in beautiful balletic mo-
lions. I le i:i one of Ihe few persons of whom one
could say, "This is a genius."
In the summer of 1950 Eleanor Roosevelt
was invited by Koussevitzky to be the narrator in
Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf at Tanglewood.
Koussevitzky asked me to go to Hyde Park to
show Mrs. Roosevelt how the piece went. I gave
her a piano score which I had marked with colored
pencils to indicate the entrances of the speaker. I
played the music for her. She learned the work in
a few hours. At the performance Mrs. Roosevelt's
reading was a triumph for her and for Kousse
NH: In 1951 you wrote an article for Penguin
Books entitled "What Every Accompanist
Knows." Did that article reflect any frustration
with your career?
RB: Yes, in a way. The article discusses the social
aspect of an accompanist's career, relating it to the
soloist. It also discusses fees and the attitudes of
the critics. It tries to reflect an objective view of the
life of an accompanist.
NH: You sum up everything by saying, "By the
very nature of being required to learn a great
amount of music (quickly) he (the accompanist)
develops a wider musical vision than is vouch
safed to the specialists of flying octaves and
machine-gun wrists." You obviously feel that an
accompanist must have many more musical skills
than a soloist.
RB: Without question. All the young musicians
who have changed their focus from soloist to
ensemble player know much more about the art of
music, the history of music, and the repertoire of
music than those pianists who, by the nature of
their profession, have to dwell on solo repertoire.
That's a very limiting life, no matter how talented
or successful the pianist. If the solo pianist is going
to play recitals and concertos with orchestras, he
has to wo rk much more diligently in a much more
restricted field than the pianist who has to play
one day with a singer, the next with a cellist, the
next with a woodwind player and so on.
It's a very underrated profession. Psycho
logically the accompanist plays "second fiddle."
Yet a second fiddle in a string quartet is as impor
tant as the first or the violist or the cellist. But an
accompanist, especially if he plays sonatas or
Lieder, is as important on the stage, from a musi
cal point of view, as the soloist. However, in the
eyes of manngem, the music critics, or many solo
ists, the accompanist's place is in the background.
The other side of the coin is that when a manager
engages a soloist it is of no consequence to him
who the accompanist is. It is also of no interest to
the public to ask when they went to hear Heifetz
or Zimbalist, "Who is the accompanist?" But
when Beethoven wrote a sonata for violin and
piano, he always called it a sonata for piano and
violin. He wasn't writing subsidiary music for the
piano part. It was no obbligato.
When Brahms or Hugo Wolf or Schubert
wrote songs, they didn't think the piano part was
some unimportant background part to fill in for
the soloist. You know the famous story of Rubin
stein. He always insisted when he played trios
with Heifetz and Piatigorsky that the pianist was
named first. Heifetz didn't like this at all and said,
"Don't you think we ought to call it the Heifetz,
Piatigorsky, and Rubinstein Trio?" To which
Rubinstein retorted, "No, even if God were play
ing the violin it would still remain Rubinstein,
God, and Piatigorsky."
Years ago the first violinist of a string quartet
was considered the leader. I recall a review by
George Bernard Shaw in which he speaks of
Joachim as the leader of the Joachim Quartet.
Actually Joachim thought of the quartet in that
way. When he came to England, he would engage
three musicians. They wouldn't be the same three
who played with him in Germany. Times have
changed. Still, in the art of playing with a cellist or
violinist on the stage, the accompanist's role is
and will always be referred to as secondary. After
a concert some people will try to praise the accom
panist by saying, "I listened to you just as much as
I did to the soloist." If they didn't then they were
wasting their money. It's a problem that goes to
the heart of social and economic matters in music.
NH: One of the biggest riddles of the musical
profession is: Why do some musicians make big
careers, while other who are equally, if not more
talented, get lost in the shuffle?
RB: Well, it is one of the great mysteries. Some
careers are meteoric such as that of Van Clibum.
Other careers, like Arthur Rubinstein's, took a
lifetime of building. I must tell you that one day in
the early 1940s Pialigorsky and I were having
lunch in Chicago with Mr. Rubinstein. He asked
The I'iano Quarterly No. 153 47
s, "Do you know when I first played in Chi-
.go?" We didn't hnvc any idea. "In 1904, " he
;plied. Can you imagine?! That was nearly forty
ears prior to that luncheon.
IH: You have also had quite a career as an
rranger and transcriber. One of the most valu-
ble transcriptions you made was a two-piano
ersion of the "Carnival of the Animals" by Saint
.B: There are about forty works of mine pub-
shed for two pianos, or one piano, four hands,
ome of them have remained alive and some have
ied. They were published in this country, in
ranee, and in Germany. The "Carnival of the
mimals" is still very popular. Only recently I
eceived some royalties from Japan for perform-
nces. I made numerous transcriptions of Bach,
xmperin, Tschaikovsky, Gershwin, Ravel, De-
ussy, Haydn, Purcell, Frescobaldi, Weber,
Ihopin, Wagner, etc. When I saw Van Cliburn last
e said to me, "You know, when I was a little boy
.iy mother used to buy your two-piano transcrip-
ions and make me play them. I can still see your
iame in the corner of the page."
<JH: You are also known as a lecturer on both
adio and television.
IB: I used to have a radio program called 'The
ubstance of Music." I remember doing a series of
4 lectures at the Philadelphia Museum School of
^rt. I also gave a series of lectures in Albuquerque
m Public Television called 'The Arts." And I gave
he intermission talks for the Boston Symphony
Orchestra broadcasts in New Mexico.
<JH: You also compose.
IB: I can't call myself a composer although I have
vritten some songs and other pieces. The most
uccessful work I wrote is called "A Telephone
la 11" and is based on a short story by Dorothy
J arker. This work, for soprano and orchestra, was
:onducted by my friend Eleazar de Carvalho in
tio de Janeiro. There was no tape made, so I never
^H: Another side of your life is that you have been
HI active artist. Do you ever wish you had been an
irtist by profession rather than a musician?
RB: It's not something one can wish; either one is
3r one isn't. If you are a writer then you write.
Hans von Biilow was once asked how to become
3 conductor, and he replied, "One fine day you
step onto the podium. If you can, you will, and if
48 The Piano Quarterly No. 153
you can't, you'll never learn."
Nil: What do you feel has been your contribution
to the musical world?
RB: I think as a teacher and a musician devoted to
music. I've been active since the age of sixteen, a
very long time. I've found that you don't learn
anything until you have to teach it. I've never
stopped teaching the piano. I've had some grati
fying results over the years. And I have played
with great artists, like the violinists Eudice
Shapiro and Josef Gingold; great singers like
Phyliss Curtin and Gerard Souzay; and had warm
friendships, among other with Bernstein and
Copland, Barber and Menotti, Bolet and
Leinsdorf, the Guarneri Quartet and Boris Gold-
ovsky, Gary Graffman and Isaac Stern.
NH: Do you have any regrets in your career,
perhaps not being known as a solo pianist?
RB: That is something I have often thought about.
When you are young and ambitious, you hope to
see your name in lights or on billboards in front of
Carnegie Hall or read long articles about your
playing in The New York Titties. Those are childish
pipe dreams. Everyone has them and with luck
most people live through them. The career of a
musician has many sides, but by your twenties
your life has to be settled. Some of my colleagues
never accepted the fact that they wouldn't be
world-beaters. In order to eat they had to take jobs
in universities or colleges of music, and they still
resent it. They feel it is demeaning, and they feel
frustrated. Other musicians have accepted the fact
that they will never be world-famous names or
glorious solo performers, but they have felt that
they can contribute to music in their community
and to younger artists who will carry on the art of
music. They realize they are in a profession of
consequence; they are among the people who
makes a contribution which is more or less lasting
and has a truth connected with it. It is something
which is hard toexplain,and it's incredibly harder
to explain to young people. So that in the years
that I've been an administrator, a manager, a
teacher, a performer, a chamber music player, and
an author all those things have been much
more gratifying than if I had been a solo artist. The
course I have followed has allowed me to get to
know and work with some of the great people of
this century, and for that I consider myself very
INTERVIEWER'S BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Born in upper state New York, consequently lived in rural Illinois and
Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bay Area resident since 1970.
Attended Mills College (Oakland) and San Jose State as a music
major. Attended Vista Community College (Berkeley) to study oral
history with Elaine Dorfman.
Professional music experience includes: teaching, primarily piano, but
also pedagogy, beginning voice and young children's music classes;
performance as a: pianist (solo, four hand piano, ensemble work),
church organist since high school (currently regular substitute
organist for Epworth United Methodist Church, Berkeley, additional
studies in France during the spring of 1988); accompanist (solo voice
and instrumental, choral and opera including work with The California
Bach Society and Oakland Opera Theater); mezzo soprano (formerly
a member of the Pacific Mozart Ensemble and alto soloist in their
presentation of Handel's Israel in Egypt, formerly a member of A Little
Opera in the House, a chamber performance ensemble, featured
primarily in that group as Miss Todd, the lead role in Menotti's The Old
Maid and the Thief.)
Interviewer/transcriber/editor of four other oral histories: 1 . Michael
Mills, Director of Vista's International Trade Institute, Veteran
Teacher and Program Planner. This was the first interview to be
completed for the Vista Community College Oral History Project
(1974 - 1989) and accepted by the Vista Community College library
as well as the Regional Oral History Office at U.C. Berkeley. 2. Sophie
Marmorek Tritsch: The Early Years (Editor only). This interview is a
life history that includes Sophie's many accomplishments such as
being a nurse in WW1 and getting her husband out of Dachau when
Hitler came to power. Copies have been given to family members as
well as the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley and to the Regional
Oral History Office at U.C. Berkeley. 3. Gretta Goldenman,
environmental activist who co-founded the Pesticide Action Network
and currently is serving as a consultant to the Directorate General of
the Environment for the Commission of the European Communities in
Brussels (in progress). 4. Julia Eastburg, local artist and feminist
whose environmental activism originated from seeing her place of
birth, the Santa Clara Valley, destroyed and displaced by the Silicon
Valley (in progress).
Albuquerque 4, 10, 21, 23
Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra 22
Barber 2, 35
Barnes Foundation 5
Berkshire hills 12
Berlin Philharmonic 7
Bernstein 2, 10, 14, 15, 37, 38
Boston Symphony Orchestra 8, 13, 14, 23, 34
"Carnival of the Animals" 1 9
Chavez 1 1
Children's Concerts 38
Cole 2, 29
Copland 11, 14,35,37
Curtis Institute 1, 3, 35
Dallapicolla 1 1
deCarvalho 19, 35
de Gogorza 3
Eastman Symphonic Band 36
Fine Arts Quartet 24
Goldovsky 11, 14, 15,35
Guarneri String Quartet 24
Heifetz 36, 37
Honegger 1 1
Horowitz 1 8
Ibert 1 1
June Music Festival 10, 21, 23
Koussevitzky 8, 10, 13, 14, 34, 35
Lear 1 1
Leinsdorf 10, 34
Mayes 2, 1 6
Menqtti 2, 35
Messiaen 1 1
Milnes 1 1
Munch 10, 14
New York City 4
Parker 1 9
Perry 9, 34
Peter and the Wolf 1 3
Petrassi 1 1
Piatigorsky 2, 6, 8, 16,34,36
Price 1 1
Roosevelt 12, 13
Ross 11. 14
Schola Cantorum 1 1
Sessions 1 1
Shapiro 16, 20
St. Louis Symphony 35
Tanglewood 9, 11, 13
Tanglewood Tales 12
Tel Aviv 36
The Arts 4
The Historical Series 3
Toch 1 1
Wharton 1 2
World War II 27
Zimbalist 3, 37
Zimbalist, Jr. 36