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A Positive and Encouraging Quote by Gregor Piatigorsky from “Hitler’s Emigres and Exiles in Southern California: A Windfall of Musicians” by Dorothy Lamb Crawford 8/9/11

August 9, 2011

I have been reading a book ” “Hitler’s Emigres and Exiles in Southern California: A Windfall of Musicians” by Dorothy Lamb Crawford, and found a wonderful quote from a great cellist, Piatigorsky. This is from P. 64 to P. 65 in this book.

-You don’t have to be a genius to know your shortcomings, because there are so many of them. But you have to be a mighty intelligent person to know your strong points. That is your obligation to know what is good. And if possible to enjoy. And everything that you don’t like, to convert into something that is likable. That is the only way I know. Otherwise you will live in the negative all your life. You can’t live in that, you can’t prosper in it… I never met a really, truly conceited musician. Because they know what they don’t know – especially before the concert… Music remains above you: you are just striving to reach it. And the better you become at it, the music moves higher, so it becomes unreachable. –

Growing up in the family with blaming and criticizing manner I am easily too negative about me. It is a great quote for me, especially as a performer myself. So this book led me to read the book “The Great Cellists” by Margaret Campbell to learn about Piatigorsky more, and I am reading his autobiography. I understand there will be a big cello conference next spring in LA under the name of Piatigorsky. I am looking forward to attending seminars to learn about Piatigorsky’s pedagogical method and personality.

Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt 11/15/10

November 15, 2010

I am reading a book “Violin Dreams” by Arnold Steinhardt. He writes about his parents as Jewish. It is very touching, and the music in their lives has been deeply attached to their long history. Mr. Steinhardt writes “Jews believed that only music could give these prayers wings strong enough to deliver them to God.” When he first played Ernest Bloch’s Nigun from Baal Shem Suite, his father told him “Two thousand years of Jewish suffering are in those notes. The Nigun is a cry to God himself.” And I started to think about my own heritage, Japanese. What do we believe? What have we been expressing through our emotions? During the WWII, when American troops invaded into Okinawa, located in the south part of Japan, fathers killed their own children and wives, then they killed themselves. What were they thinking? How about Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear bombs?

In the long history, Japanese have been admiring our beautiful four seasons. Haiku and Tanka (poems) have been our ways of expression, using Kigo(seasonal words). We don’t express emotions like Westerners, but we express ourselves through poems and often unspoken words. We don’t cry out and speak loud. We have a court music “Gagaku”, but it was not for civilians first. We don’t have music like Nigun. We have folk songs composed during the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), and we sing those folk songs with melancholy and sentiment. “Unspoken” could be a key to understand Japanese culture.

Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony by Arnold Steinhardt 5/28/10

May 28, 2010

Dear Mr. Steinhardt,

I just finished your book, and I am still very moved and touched. Your book gave me tear, giggle, and smile. You wrote a wonderful book. Toward the end of the book, you talk about Schubert “Death and the Maiden” quartet.  So I pulled the music out of the bookshelf, and played the score as I read. FYI: I am a pianist. As I heard the harmony, moving voices, and melody lines which you describe in the book, it seemed the spirit of Schubert came down to my Southern California house, and the tear came down on my cheek. I have heard many string quartets in my life, but it is the first time to really think about the greatness of this special art, “String Quartet”. I am a bit jealous. I can’t be in string quartet, but I can play with the string quartet.

The beauty of the friendship and musicianship in Guarneri String Quartet is the center of this book, and it drew me into your book. So I lost keeping track to practice my own pieces. It is time to get back to what I have to do. Again thank you for writing this wonderful book for us! I listened Guarneri String Quartet’s Beethoven collection while I was reading your book.