New York event pays tribute to Leonard Shure
Most people who knew Leonard Shure felt that he was one of America’s two greatest pianists, says Jerome Rose.
Along with William Kappell, Shure had a performing and teaching career of tremendous impact. His legacy will be celebrated today, when his students and fans come from all over the world for a series of master classes, concerts and events as a part of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College the New School for Music, where Shure once taught.
“Many of the events will basically mirror, elucidate and resuscitate the brilliant career of the artist in his centenary year,” says pianist and IKIF founder-director Jerome Rose.
Shure, who died in 1995, appeared with virtually all major national orchestras and conductors — for example, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Serge Koussevitsky. He was the first piano soloist to perform at the Berkshire Music Festival, Tanglewood’s precursor.
He studied with Austrian piano demigod Artur Schnabel and become his assistant, and later taught acclaimed pianists like Leon Fleisher, Gilbert Kalish and Rose. During today’s event, listeners can experience his teaching style through a three-hour film of his lessons.
“He will completely come alive with his voice, his expression and his pianistic prowess,” says Rose. “He was a man who demonstrated constantly. He would play everything.”
Shure’s recordings will be played as well, and his students will gather to pay tribute. Those appearing include Rose, Ursula Oppens, composer David Del Tredici, Victor Rosenbaum, Phillip Moll, Neal Stulberg, Beth Levin and Edward A. Shure. The repertoire encompasses Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Dvorak, Del Tredici, Carter, Mendelssohn and Chopin.
Shure’s influence manifests in the successes not only of his students, but also of their students. Many pianists Rose has taught in his own 50-year career — the “grandchildren” of Shure’s teaching methods — will play at IKIF.
For Shure, art was sacred — not entertainment, but a lifestyle.
“He treated the text of the music with religious dedication,” says Rose. “There was always the intent to find the profound in any phrase that was played and I would say that he lived a transcendental life in the way he approached music.”
Rose studied with Shure from 1956 to 1960 at Mannes. Memories of his teacher are with him always, whenever he hears music.
As he describes his lessons, “You were working with the supreme master hoping to achieve true mastery over your art.
“You were learning all the time so there is absolutely no way that the influence is not with you constantly. There is not a day of my life as a musician, pianist and artist that the subconscious memory is not being constantly revived.”