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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Convocation 2017 defines YSM as place for “Music Among Friends”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker often describes music as “the currency of hope” and has long championed the School’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. That commitment was reiterated emphatically on Thursday night in his 2017 Convocation speech, “Music Among Friends,” in which he celebrated “courage, inclusivity and diversity, connectedness, tolerance and respect, and compassion.” Upon its founding, he said, “the School of Music opened wide its doors and heart to all those who brought their gifts of talent and intellectual curiosity to campus.” Today, Blocker pointed out, the School stands in solidarity with those whose place in our community hangs in the balance.

“All of us bring anxieties, concerns, and even fears about the human condition to this room tonight,” he told new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, “for we live in a time in which human dignity and indeed humanity are being assaulted throughout the world. Nothing, I think, is as incomprehensible and unimaginable as the vengeful rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA. Now, these young people we call Dreamers live with fear rather than hope. This action touches our community profoundly because we are witnesses to the deep grief and stressful uncertainty these Dreamers and their families suddenly face. I do believe reasonable and compassionate leaders among us hear and feel the anguished cries of Dreamers and that they, with our encouragement and support, will find a way to keep their American dream alive.”

Connecting YSM’s values to its mission, Blocker said, “music teaches us that every voice is distinct and important, that each is necessary for harmony, and that is precisely why we know that our combined voices will help repair our troubled world.”

Following University Provost Benjamin Polak’s installation of the incoming class, whose members come from five continents, 25 countries, 26 states, and 58 institutions, Convocation attendees sang Schubert’s An die Musik (with Franz von Schober’s text, as translated by YSM faculty bass-baritone Richard Cross), as is School tradition. Blocker then delivered his remarks before introducing the faculty, alumni, and current students who performed as part of the ceremony.

Violinist Daniel S. Lee ’06MM ’08AD, a newly appointed faculty member in early music whose ensemble, The Sebastians, is in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, performed Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata No. 3 in F major, C. 140 (from Sonatae, violino solo) with faculty harpsichordist Arthur Haas. Bass-baritone Dashon Burton ’11MM sang “Grosser Herr, o starker König,” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and “Mache dich, mein Herze rein,” from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, with pianist David Fung ’11MM ’13MMA ’17DMA. And violinist Sirena Huang ’19AD performed Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34, with pianist Lam Wong ’18MM.

The performances added punctuation to Blocker’s remarks, which concluded with him telling members of the incoming class that “here at YSM, you will experience fully the gift that is ‘Music Among Friends,’ and encouraging all in attendance, referencing a favorite story about Robert Louis Stevenson, to “take hope, and make holes in the dark with the beauty and light of your music.”

Photos by Harold Shapiro

Published September 8, 2017
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[ in the press ]

Concert pianist David Fung to make Franco Center debut on Feb. 15

David Fung, pianistEncore Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Concert artist David Fung will make his Piano Series debut at the Franco Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15. The program will feature works by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, and Schubert.

An official Steinway artist, Fung, 30, is widely recognized for playing that is elegant and refined, yet deeply poetic and intensely expressive. His performance of Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 5 at Weill Recital Hall in New York was described in December 2011 as “stylish and articulate” by the New York Times. MORE

Published February 10, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Review of David Fung’s “Evening Conversations”

By Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition

Originally issued in 2006, this recital recorded 27-29 March 2006 has been reprocessed, using virgin polycarbonate and alloy in a German audiophile pressing that producer Bob Attiyeh claims will “bring you sound as close to the live magic in the concert hall as possible.” The original reviews of Evening Conversations proved quite favorable, with critic James Harrington of the American Record Guide’s commenting that his “reviewing process has produced an overall favorite, and that is David Fung. . .[whose] playing impressed me for its phrasing and musicality.” For me, the recital’s variety and breadth of palette rivals the kind of pianistic spectrum the late Shura Cherkassky would champion.

I concur that Fung (b. 1983) elicits some exquisite sounds from his Steinway instrument, brilliantly captured by Producer and Recording Engineer Bob Attiyeh. The recital itself presents almost limitless opportunities for Fung to display varieties of touch and attack, MORE

Published October 22, 2013
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[ concerts ]

Yale Baroque Ensemble performs Bach Oct. 8

Jurrian 1

Jurrian van der Zanden

The Yale School of Music will present members of the Yale Baroque Ensemble in their first concert of the year on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. The program will focus on chamber music of J.S. Bach.

The Yale Baroque Ensemble (YBE) is a postgraduate ensemble whose members undertake a year of intensive study. The new members featured in this performance are Nayeon Kim, baroque violin, and Jurrian van der Zanden, baroque cello. They will be joined by harpsichordist David Fung. MORE

Published September 16, 2013
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Pianist David Fung reaches finals of Queen Elisabeth Competition

fung_david2Pianist David Fung ’11MM, ’12MMA has been selected to compete in the final round of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. “I am absolutely thrilled and humbled,” he said in an email. Video of his performance in the semifinal around is available here.

Fung will compete in the finals this Friday, May 31 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. He will perform Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major with conductor Marin Alsop and the National Orchestra of Belgium. The final will be streamed live and on demand on the competition’s website.

The finalists were announced round midnight last Saturday, May 18 May. In alphabetical order, they are: Mateusz Borowiak, Tatiana Chernichka, David Fung, Rémi Geniet, Boris Giltburg, Roope Gröndahl, Sean Kennard, Stanislav Khristenko, Sangyoung Kim, Yuntian Liu, Andrew Tyson, and Zhang Zuo. The twelve finalists will compete between May 27 and June 1.

The Queen Elisabeth Competition was founded in 1937 and alternates among the divisions of piano, violin, composition, and voice. Past winners in piano include Emil Gilels, Leon Fleisher, Vladimir Ashkenasy, and Severin von Eckardstein.

Published May 22, 2013
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Yale Baroque Ensemble performs Dussek, Haydn, and Mozart Apr. 4

Concert explores hallmarks of European Classical period

The Yale School of Music will present the Yale Baroque Ensemble on Thursday, April 4, 2013. Directed by faculty member Robert Mealy, the ensemble will perform the works of European musical pioneers Dussek, Haydn, and Mozart.

The Yale Baroque Ensemble (YBE) is a postgraduate ensemble whose members undertake a year of intensive study. This year’s members are Holly Piccoli and Edson Scheid, baroque violin; Soojin Chung, baroque cello; and David Fung, fortepiano. MORE

Published March 22, 2013
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Members of Yale Baroque Ensemble perform Mar. 27

Violinist Edson Scheid, cellist Soo Jin Chung perform Baroque and Classical selections

The Yale Baroque Ensemble. From left: Edson Scheid, violin; Holly Piccoli, violin; Soo Jin Chung, cello; David Fung, keyboards

The Yale School of Music presents a recital by Edson Scheid, baroque violin, and Soo Jin Chung, baroque cello, on Wednesday, March 27 at 5:30 pm. The concert will include music from the Baroque and Classical periods, with selections by J.S. Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Joseph Haydn, and others.

The program includes Corelli’s Sonta for violin and cello, Op. 5, No. 3; Bach’s Sonata in E minor for violin, cello, and harpsichord, BWV 1023; and Haydn’s Trio in A major H.XV:18.

Scheid and Chung are both alumni of the Yale School of Music who are members of the postgraduate Yale Baroque Ensemble. They will be joined by fellow YBE member David Fung, harpsichord and fortepiano. The YBE is the ensemble-in-residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, where the recital will take place.

Admission to the performance is free. The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments is located at 15 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven. For more information, visit music.yale.edu or contact the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.

The Yale Baroque Ensemble, directed by baroque violinist Robert Mealy, is a postgraduate ensemble at the Yale School of Music dedicated to the highest level of study and performance of the Baroque repertoire. Using the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments’ set of new baroque instruments, members of the Ensemble go through an intensive one-year program of study, MORE

Published March 20, 2013
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[ concerts ]

YSM pianists survey Prokofiev’s nine piano sonatas

The Yale School of Music presents all of the Prokofiev Piano Sonatas in two pairs of performances: December 5 and 7 at 8 pm at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall, and December 11 at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.

The concerts, which are presented by Yale in New York and the Horowitz Piano Series, feature performers selected in a competition open to all graduate-level piano students. The events mark the publication of a new performance edition of the sonatas, edited by faculty member and Prokofiev specialist Boris Berman.

The first program (Dec. 5 at 8 pm in New Haven, and Dec. 11 at 5:30 pm in New York) will frame the project by presenting the first and last of Prokofiev’s nine piano sonatas. Naomi Woo ’13MM will perform the Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 1; Euntaek Kim ’13AD will play the Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14; and David Fung ’12MMA will perform the second version of the Sonata No. 5 in C major. The second half of the concert opens with the Sonata No. 9 in C major, Op. 103, performed by Esther Park ’12AD. The concert closes with the Sonata No. 4 in C minor, Op. 29, played by Scott MacIsaac ’14CERT. MORE

Published November 17, 2011
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