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Remembering Jeaneane Dowis Lipman and Toscanini

Thank you to faculty member Martin Canin (B.S. and M.S. ’59, piano) for writing a tribute to Jeaneane Dowis Lipman (B.S. ’53, piano) in the September issue of The Journal. I was surprised to find zero comments on it. After graduating from Juilliard, having heard marvelous things about her teaching, I sought her out to teach me. I feel that my subsequent success as a musician/pianist, such as it was and is, was due in large part to my decision to study with her. She remains a vivid presence in my teaching and playing. If you are not familiar with her playing, check out her performance of the Rachmaninoff Trio with James Kreger (B.M. ’69, M.S. ’70, cello) and Walter Schwade, which can be found at wn.com/walter_schwede—it shows such sophisticated, ideal, powerful, committed, and refined pianism. Jeaneane was the real thing!

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—John Van Buskirk (M.M. ’69, piano)

I’m writing in regard to two articles in The Journal. Fred Fox (’35, French horn) and Murray Grodner have written about their experiences in orchestras conducted by Arturo Toscanini in New York.  I also worked under Toscanini—for four years as a member of a special chorus that was created for Toscanini by Peter Wilhousky (Diploma ’24; B.S. ’39, public school music; faculty 1937-47) in productions beginning with the 1944 Red Cross Benefit Concert in Madison Square Garden. My experience with Toscanini was very positive, also because Wilhousky was certainly the best chorus master with whom I had ever worked. 

Your article about the musicologist and pianist Robert Levin also interested me quite directly. He spoke of his work in Vienna with the legendary Hans Swarowsky; I also worked with Swarowsky, between 1949 and 1955. An excellent pianist, he accompanied me for several recitals with the Viennese Radio Station Ravag and also for the U.S.-dominated station Rot-Weiss-Rot. In 1952, Swarowsky also conducted a recording of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in which I sang the role of Sesto, and in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in which I sang Don Ottavio. These recordings and others were organized and directed by the great American Haydn specialist H. C. Robbins Landon, and it was through Landon that Swarowsky and I became interested in performance practice, especially with Baroque music. Swarowsky had invited me to participate in his classes at the Viennese Academy for Music, and Landon and I discussed and recorded many ideas which in the following years became normal performance practice by conductors like Christopher Hogwood and John Eliot Gardiner. I much admire Levin’s approach to his work as a musicologist and I found his comments about his forthcoming classes in Juilliard very interesting. 

As a personal update: in December, I produced an evening dedicated to pupils of Francesco Gasparini: Domenico Scarlatti, Benedetto Marcello, and Johann Joachim Quantz, directed by my assistant Gabriele Micheli, one of Italy’s most important experts on Baroque music. 

—Herbert Handt (B.S. ’47, voice)

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