Pianiste - January/February 2013 - Written by Stéphane Friédérich

Portrait of Jerome Rose: "Une Tradition Romantique"

While visiting Paris we met with the American pianist Jerome Rose whose new recording is devoted to the works of Schumann.

Like many American musicians trained after the war, Jerome Rose benefited from the presence of many artists exiled from Europe:

“My musical tradition is more Russian and German. Russian in the sense that I’ve benefited from a school that knew how to exploit the physical capacities of beginners. I am not talking about style or sound, but of the coordination of body motions.”

The pianist is conscious of the extreme diversity of teachings within the same school.

“I was lucky enough to begin music in Los Angeles. The city was, by then, home of Heifetz, Rubinstein, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Piatigorsky… then, I went to San Francisco, another cultural city, with Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Leon Fleisher. I studied with a student of Joseph Lhévinne, then of Adolphe Baller, a protégé of Arthur Schnable. I also studied with Leonard Shure and Rudolf Serkin.”

Jerome Rose has recorded dozens of CDs of romantic composers.

“To be honest, my interest in this repertoire came fairly late. I became an interpreter of Liszt thanks to my recording contracts! I was better prepared to play Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Scriabin. But I believe that one has to perform other composers than the ones one already knows. Take Serkin, for instance. He was not considered an interpreter of Chopin. Yet, he forced himself to perform all his Etudes in concert.”

Do we have to possess special abilities to interpret Liszt’s music?

“A pianist should be able to play everything,” replies Jerome Rose.

Does he think the same about contemporary music?

“What we once considered “contemporary” has sometimes become “classic” today. Everybody can play the Schoenberg Piano Concerto or works by Dutilleux. The question that arises about contemporary music is somehow quite simple: what does the music mean? Can I memorize it? If not, then I do not see how it could stay in History…”

Jerome Rose’s teaching and especially his masterclasses, are much sough after. What does he get from it?

“As Arthur Schnable explained, I learn more from my students than they learn from me. To teach, is to reflect upon one’s own playing. One cannot teach a work that one has not played.”

Are there interpretative parameters that cannot be taught?

“The way to use one’s own corporeal energy...that cannot be taught. Video recordings constitute a great improvement because the intensity of a performer is immediately caught on camera. Look at Cziffra’s playing...it’s staggering!”

A jury member of numerous prestigious international competitions, Jerome Rose gives us food for thought about competitions:

“Competitions have become, everywhere, a foundation of our society. We always have to be at our best, at any time. But for a jury, what matters is to be convinced that the contestant loves what s/he is playing.”

Are competitions necessary then?

“Yes, if the contestant understands that it represents only a moment in his/her whole career. And among young artists who win competitions, only a few will become great artists, because their interpretations will be enriched by their lives.

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