There is never a moment in music when you can say, ‘This is it. Now I have arrived.’ It is a journey with many stops. There are frustrating pauses, whirlwind acceleration — and sometimes, just a sense of having got seriously lost. The key is simple: You just have to keep going. It isn’t a competition — it’s only about yourself, about one practice day after another, about keeping going, and above all, forcing yourself to understand that you never understand it all… Those who delight in the music; in never failing to find refreshment in it; who rejoice in their gift… those are the musicians who have lasted, whose way has been lit by this special lantern of our art.
– Lynn Harrell, May 1994 Commencement Address, Cleveland Institute of Music
Our Video of the Week today pays tribute to one of the lions of the musical world, whose “special lantern” was extinguished this week: the legendary cellist Lynn Harrell, who died Monday at the age of 76. Heifetz Institute Founder Daniel Heifetz has a special, fond remembrance of the time when Harrell came to teach and perform at the Institute during its very first summer in Staunton, VA in 2012:
“It was both a joy and an honor to know Lynn Harrell as a friend and colleague. He accepted my invitation to join the faculty of the Heifetz International Music Institute immediately and enjoyed both his time with us and the beauty of the city and area of Staunton. He was an inspiration to our students and a wonderful colleague, with a warm ready smile for all the other faculty members. One thing most people did not know was that Lynn analyzed the acoustical aspects of the cello. He realized that the sound dampens when the cello endpin is pressed into the wooden floor or onto a concert cello platform. So he always used a large ceramic tile for his endpin whenever he performed! You can see it in this video.
“It was a privilege to perform the Brahms Piano Quartet with Lynn. The magnitude and depth of his artistry inspired all of us in the ensemble. He was so gentle and respectful in rehearsal towards the young viola student I had invited to join us. Our rehearsals were filled with happy exploration of musical ideas, and he was always eagerly willing to try what any of us proposed.
“There was an unaffected dignity and humility about Lynn, which he brought to his artistry. We have all lost a great friend and an artistic energy that will be sorely missed.”
So, to the Heifetz archives we go, to bring you this performance from the 2012 Heifetz Institute of the Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25 by Brahms. Featuring, Daniel Heifetz, violin, Caterina Longhi, viola; Lynn Harrell, cello, and pianist Dina Vainshtein. Captured in performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA.
We’ve got lots more wonderful and touching archival performances from Heifetz summers in Staunton and even earlier, coming this summer as part of the of Rubato, the Heifetz Institute’s new Virtual Concert Hall initiative. You can also click here to subscribe to our Video of the Week feature.