YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl to retire after 30 years, having inspired generations

Peter Frankl

By Lucile Bruce

Peter Frankl will retire at the end of this semester, concluding his remarkable 30 year career at the Yale School of Music, where he has touched the minds — and more important, the hearts — of hundreds of students.A virtuoso performer and beloved teacher, Frankl was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1935, into a musical family. His parents were semi-professional musicians who played piano at home. They took their son to many concerts and he remembers hearing “many great artists like Klemperer, Bernstein, and my idol, the pianist Annie Fischer.”

Frankl began playing the piano at age 5. “It has been my passion in life ever since,” he said.

He made his London debut in 1962 and his New York debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in 1967. Since then, he has played on the world’s top stages with the most celebrated orchestras and eminent conductors, including Abbado, Boulez, Davis, Haitink, Maazel, Masur, Muti, and Solti. His world tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has appeared more than 20 times at London’s BBC Proms and at many major festivals. Inspired as a young musician by the legendary Leó Weiner, his chamber music teacher, Frankl is also a well- known chamber music performer. For years, the Frankl-Pauk- Kirshbaum Trio traveled the world, and Frankl’s many chamber music partners include the world’s most renowned artists.

It was Boris Berman, professor of piano and coordinator of the piano department at YSM, who invited Frankl to come to Yale, first in 1987 as a visiting teaching artist.

Until that time, Frankl’s occupation was mainly concertizing; he rarely taught, even master classes. “It never occurred to me to teach on a regular basis,” he said. “However, Yale’s reputation attracted me greatly and I decided to give it a try.”

He harbored a deeper reason, however, for teaching. “By then I was 52 years old,” he explained. “I had the impression that the young generation of pianists were more interested in reaching technical perfection than in involving themselves in the emotional and spiritual meaning of what each composer wanted to express in their works.

“Somehow I started feeling responsible towards the future of music-making,” he continued. “Instead of grumbling about this, I wanted to do something positive.”

He thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at YSM, including the School’s “relatively intimate size.” As two esteemed piano faculty members were approaching retirement, Yale offered to extend Frankl’s appointment. He gladly accepted.  MORE

Published November 6, 2017
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Achievements celebrated at annual Honors Dinner

Carol Colburn Grigor, recipient of the Samuel Simons Sanford Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Samuel Simons Sanford Award winner Carol Colburn Grigor, and Robert Blocker

The Yale School of Music held its annual Honors Dinner on Sunday, May 7, welcoming students and alumni, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests to the Yale Commons for an evening of celebration. After thanking recently retired staff members for their service and acknowledging the University officers who were in attendance, YSM Dean Robert Blocker presented Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA CBE with the School’s highest honor, the Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Grigor, Blocker, said, “is one of America’s most generous … most thoughtful philanthropists.” Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills congratulated Grigor via video.

Willie Ruff, recipient of the Nathan Hale Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Nathan Hale Award recipient Willie Ruff, and Robert Blocker

Dean Blocker, with University President Peter Salovey and Yale Provost Benjamin Polak at his side, presented longtime YSM professor Willie Ruff ’53BM ’54MM, who will retire at the end of the semester, with the University’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award. “He’s changed all our lives,” Blocker said, before attendees were shown a video tribute to Ruff’s life and work. In a nod to the man who indirectly inspired him decades ago to study at YSM, Ruff said, “I thank, most of all, Charlie Parker.” The jazz office in the Yale School of Music’s Adams Center for Musical Arts was recently named in Ruff’s honor.

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award winner Warren Lee, and Robert Blocker

Blocker presented the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award to pianist Warren Lee ’00MM and the Cultural Leadership Citation to retiring Yale Collection of Musical Instruments curator William Nicholas Renouf ’71MMA. The Collection’s director, William Purvis, accepted the Citation on behalf of Renouf, who was unable to attend the Honors Dinner. Before presenting student prizes, Blocker referenced an impressive number of awards and successes earned and realized this year by students, faculty, and staff. He recognized longtime YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl, who plans to retire in the fall, for his dedication to the School community.

At the end of the evening, Blocker told the students in attendance, “Claim the future. It belongs to you. You will make us better.” What follows is a list of the student prizes awarded during YSM’s 2017 Honors Dinner. MORE

Published May 9, 2017
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Poet laureate Robert Pinsky to set scene for final Laderman work at Yale

Robert Pinsky | Photo by Eric Antoniou

Robert Pinsky | Photo by Eric Antoniou

New Haven Register | By Joe Amarante

Ezra Laderman came out of retirement to work at Yale in 1988. The composer then spent more than a quarter-century at the School of Music, serving six years as dean. He retired from Yale in 2014 and died in 2015.

But his influence continues. Saturday brings a world premiere of his last completed work, Voices, which is based on Dante’s Inferno and will include a libretto by former United States poet laureate to the Library of Congress Robert Pinsky. The free event will be at 7:30 p.m. at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall on College Street.

“I’m glad to learn that the program will include the words of the libretto,” said Pinsky. “I think that will be helpful, as people listen to Ezra’s splendid composition.”

Pinsky, who worked closely with Ezra Laderman on the piece, published (in 1995) his own translation of the 14th-century poet Dante’s odyssey through hell, called The Inferno of Dante. …

FULL ARTICLE

Published October 14, 2016
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Jay Wadley composes score for Sundance hit “Indignation”

Jay Wadley

Jay Wadley

James Schamus’ film Indignation, which is based on Philip Roth’s 2008 novel of the same name, opens tomorrow in theaters across the United States. The film’s score was composed by Jay Wadley ’07MM ’08AD, who studied at the Yale School of Music with Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Ezra Laderman.

“He wanted something that was very classical,” Wadley said of Schamus’ direction, “and he knew that was my background.”

Reached by phone at his New York City-based composer collective/production company Found Objects, which he and fellow Yale School of Music alumnus Trevor Gureckis ’07MM started during graduate school in New Haven, Wadley said he first worked with Schamus when the latter directed “That Film About Money” and “The Second Part of That Film About Money,” two short documentaries released in 2014 as part of Morgan Spurlock’s We the Economy series. When they first met, Wadley said, he and Schamus talked about classical music and about Wadley’s experiences helping to orchestrate Rufus Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna and his song cycle All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

MORE

Published July 28, 2016
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[ concerts ]

Concert remembers composer, former dean Ezra Laderman March 2

Ezra LadermanThe Yale School of Music presents a concert in memory of the late Ezra Laderman on Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 pm. Laderman served as Dean of the Yale School of Music from 1989 to 1995 and on faculty as professor of music until his retirement in 2014.

The concert will feature selections from several of Laderman’s compositions, as well as spoken and video tributes from his Yale colleagues.

The world premiere of Laderman’s Partita for Solo Violin will be performed by alumnus Benjamin Hoffman.

Frank Morelli and Ole Akahoshi, both members of the School of Music faculty, will play movements from the Partitas for solo bassoon and solo cello, respectively. MORE

Published February 23, 2016
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[ concerts ]

CANCELED: Brass of Yale performs at Carnegie Hall Jan. 24

Yale Brass Trio

Yale Brass Trio

Update 1/23: We regret that, because of the severity of the blizzard, this concert has been canceled.

The Yale School of Music continues its acclaimed Yale in New York series on Sunday, January 24 with a program of music for brass. The concert will highlight the school’s acclaimed brass faculty as well as the contributions to the brass repertoire of past and present Yale composers. The program honors the late composers Ezra Laderman and Gunther Schuller, both of whom served on the Yale faculty.

The evening is anchored by the Yale Brass Trio, comprising William Purvis, horn; Allan Dean, trumpet; and Scott Hartman, trombone. They are joined by fellow faculty member Carol Jantsch, tuba, and numerous YSM students and alumni.

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman

A former dean of the Yale School of Music, Ezra Laderman (1924–2015) joined the Yale faculty in 1988 and served as Professor of Music until his retirement in 2013. He also served as the president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. William Purvis, Allan Dean, and Scott Hartman will perform the New York premiere of his Brass Trio, written in 2005. MORE

Published January 5, 2016
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[ concerts ]

Aldo Parisot leads the Yale Cellos in concert on Wednesday, April 15

yale_cellos1Aldo Parisot will lead the Grammy-nominated ensemble that he founded over thirty years ago in a diverse program of music from the baroque to the present day. The works will range from classics by Arcangelo Corelli, J. S. Bach, and Edvard Grieg to newer works by Ezra Laderman and Dave Brubeck. TICKET INFO

The concert begins with the Allegro agitato from Edvard Grieg’s Cello Sonata in A minor, performed by Chang Pan, a second-year master’s student of Aldo Parisot at the Yale School of Music. Assistant professor of cello Ole Akahoshi, who performed a duet with Yo-Yo Ma in Woolsey Hall in January, will then perform the Partita for Solo Cello by Ezra Laderman.

Laderman, who passed away on February 28, was a prolific composer who served as dean of the Yale School of Music from 1989 to 1995 and later as professor of composition until his retirement in 2013. His longtime connection with the Yale Cellos was particularly rich, and over the years Aldo Parisot and the Yale Cellos performed and recorded a number of works Laderman wrote for the ensemble. MORE

Published March 24, 2015
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[ in the press ]

New York Times notes passing of Ezra Laderman

laderman-bwNew York Times | By Margalit Fox

Ezra Laderman, an American composer who became widely known for his 1993 opera, “Marilyn,” which chronicled the waning days of Marilyn Monroe, died on Saturday at his home in New Haven. He was 90.

His death was announced by the Yale School of Music, where he was an emeritus professor and a former dean.

Mr. Laderman was a prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, as well as a bevy of works for traditionally neglected instruments like the viola and the bassoon. But on account of its subject matter, it was “Marilyn,” commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of the New York City Opera, that made him known to the general public. MORE

Published March 5, 2015
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[ in memoriam ]

In memoriam: composer Ezra Laderman, 90

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman

Composer Ezra Laderman died Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the age of 90. His works included twelve string quartets, eleven concertos, and eight symphonies; six dramatic oratorios, music for dance, seven operas, and music for two Academy Award-winning films. In the words of Anthony Tommasini, “Mr. Laderman’s gruff, kinetic music mixes pungently atonal elements into a harmonic language that is tonally rooted and clearly directed.”

Laderman has been quoted as saying: “When I was very young, everything I wrote was tonal; and after that, atonal; and then serial. Finally, I’ve come back to tonality—but in a synthesized form, with the freedom to call upon all techniques.” A biography by Neil Levin notes: “He was led toward this synthesis in 1975, when he was commissioned to write an organ piece and composed a set of twenty-five preludes in different styles, each using a different technical or procedural approach and/or language: atonal, serial, dodecaphonic, tonal, expressionist, polytonal, modal, etc. When he heard those preludes performed without pause as a single work at the premiere, he realized that he could combine them all in a single, unified work. ‘Why segregate these aesthetic elements?” he later recalled asking himself. He described that realization as nothing short of “traumatic … it changed my life.’” MORE

Published March 1, 2015
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[ events ]

School holds opening Convocation Sep. 3

YSM-Convocation-103At the Yale School of Music’s annual Convocation, which took place Wednesday, September 3, 2014 in Morse Recital Hall, Provost Benjamin Polak installed the incoming class of YSM students. Robert Blocker, Dean of the School of Music, hosted the event and honored several attendees.

Gregory E. Sterling, Dean of the Yale Divinity School, gave the invocation. Dean Blocker recognized Paul Berry, Assistant Professor Adjunct of Music History. Berry was one of only ten recipients of the Provost’s inaugural Teaching Prize (story here).

YSM-Convocation-039Dean Blocker conferred the Cultural Leadership Citation upon Dorothy K. Robinson, Vice President and General Counsel of the University. MORE

Published September 5, 2014
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