Performers are always seeking the most effective and compelling ways to bring a composer’s musical ideas to life. I stress the plural, “ways,” because there’s never just one way. Some musicians sometimes forget this, unfortunately, but the best musicians, and the best teachers never do. When I was a graduate student, the string quartet I played in was working on a Bartók string quartet, and our faculty coach was Robert Mann, founder and first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet.
Now, if ever there was a musician who was entitled to say of a Bartók quartet, “This is the way it goes,” it was Robert Mann. He knew those quartets inside out, and had recorded them more than once. But he never imposed his ideas. He was much more interested in our ideas, and how we might best articulate and convey them—and that’s one of the reasons Robert Mann was not just a great performer, but also a remarkable teacher.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.