Every so often, when I’m driving through Vermont in the afternoon, I find myself listening to the NPR program, “The Story.” Recently, host Dick Gordon interviewed Frank Glazer, someone I knew nothing about except that I remember his name on an LP somewhere in my collection. Glazer is a pianist, and one who’s had quite an illustrious career, making his debut at New York’s Town Hall and playing with the Boston Symphony, with an extended professional career at Eastman School of Music. For the last thirty plus years he’s been “artist in residence” at Bates College in Maine. But that’s not why Gordon was talking to him. It seems that Mr. Glazer is 97 and still teaching and performing.
Most wonderfully, from my point of view, he’s still getting better. Last year he played all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in performance. That’s an extraordinary feat for any musician, much less one of 97.
Asked why he hasn’t retired, he responds,
“The reason I’m still doing it—all my life I wanted to be able to like what I heard when I play. Now I like it. Why should I quit now when I’m hearing what I always wanted to hear, but didn’t always hear?
My technique is as good as it’s ever been. I’m still getting better. I know better how to learn a piece, how to let it speak so that I finally get it. And the audience gets it—the essence and spirit of the music.”
What about arthritis? Nearly everyone is at least a little arthritic in their old age. He says his was never so bad that he couldn’t play through it, and now it’s gone altogether. Even the wear and tear that once affected his playing has diminished.
Glazer hopes to perform all 51 of Chopin’s Mazurkas and all of Bach’s Preludes and Fugues in eight programs in his 100th year.
And I hope to be able to enjoy hearing myself play when I reach 97.