Well, it’s all over for another year. The eagerly-anticipated Summer School for Pianists 2014 finished yesterday, and what a fabulous week! A terrific group of piano-loving participants, 5 tutors working flat out giving recitals as well as masterclasses, private lessons and presentations, Steinways galore for practice, duets, accompaniment, socialising, a swimming pool …. And we’re planning next year’s course already. Watch this space!
At this year’s Forum we honoured concert pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, born in 1903, who died in February aged 110. Her great age was remarkable; perhaps one of her secrets was her habit of practising Bach every day. But more than that – with her husband and six-year-old son she was deported to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War 2. Having spent a year learning the Chopin Etudes prior to her deportation, she gave more than a hundred concerts for her fellow prisoners, and at more than twenty she played the Etudes.
Below is a quote from Alice’s Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer by Alice Herz-Sommer, Melissa Mueller and Reinhard Piechocki.
She said: ‘Music gave heart to many of the prisoners, if only temporarily. In retrospect I am certain that it was music that strengthened my innate optimism and saved my life and that of my son. It was our food; and it protected us from hate and literally nourished our souls.
There in the darkest corners of the world it removed our fears and reminded us of the beauty around us. Music supported me as I turned my back on my home town of Prague for the last time … and I am thankful for it too, at my great age, when I spend many hours alone. It hardly matters where I am; I am not prone to loneliness. Although I no longer travel any more, through music I can see the world.’