It was only recently that I probed into the geneology of my pianistic roots. My paternal grandmother’s cousin who is now 95 studied with James Friskin at Juilliard and then received her graduate degrees from Columbia University. Dr. Sonia Slatin (Slatin-Lewis when she married in her 60s!) taught Schenkerian analysis at Brooklyn College (where I now teach–small world!) and I was told recently that there was a well-known pianist who was my father’s grandmother’s cousin named Herman Kosoff. He was well known in Europe, came to the US, returned to Vienna to study with Leopold Godowsky, returned again to the US and settled in Mount Vernon, New York. Now comes the wild moment: after my recital for Doreen Marx’s prestigious series in Miami (Sunday Afternoon of Music) yesterday, I was introduced to a man whose first words to me were, ‘I studied with Herman Kosoff for four years in Mount Vernon in the 1930s. He prepared me for my auditions to Oberlin’. I didn’t know what to do–I stood frozen, a tear came to my eye, stunned and somewhat touched by this man’s presence–feeling the immortal presence of Herman Kosoff come to life. He shared with me how he remembered nightly chamber music concerts in Kosoff’s home, for Kosoff at that point was playing only chamber music in his home and making a decent living teaching. I wish I had known him–but the fact that Jerome Benson, now 82 years young, came to me and shared this was amazing to me. Dr. Benson became a double major and carved a career in medicine, but his eyes lit up when he recollected about his years with my great-grandmother’s cousin in the 1930s. It was a moment I’ll remember for many years.

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