One of my treasured musical memories is a week of masterclasses by Gyorgy Sebok I attended in Germany one summer during the early 90’s. The comments he made were directly relevant not only to the specific piece the student presented, but also to music, performance and piano playing in general.

A cigarette dangling from a holder, and with plenty of amazing demonstrations, he had the knack of being extremely entertaining while at the same time challenging the student to produce more than they ever thought they were capable of. And sometimes he got results by sleight of hand.

One student got to a chord progression; she was playing it perfectly well, but Sebok wanted more than just the right notes. In the spirit of a game, he asked her to look at a new audience member with each new chord, and make a facial expression that communicated the different shades of meaning in the harmonic progression. She had to feel each chord before she played it so she could project it clearly. The difference was almost miraculous.

I came across this series of masterclasses this past week, and wanted to share them here. I do hope you enjoy Mr. Sebok’s humour, intelligence and expertise. I think he was something of a magician for pianists.

Follow this link to Gyorgy Sebok’s obituary in the Independent

Follow this link to Jeremy Denk’s beautifully written article about his studies with Sebok

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