In order to understand the full benefits the piano students will receive through the instruction of our piano teaching staff, one must understand the history and the tradition of teaching and performing classical piano music. Lepskaya’s School of Music is the current generation of teachers and performers whose training can be traced directly back to Beethoven.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in 1770 and died in 1827 in Vienna, Austria. From an early age Ludwig’s father made him practice from dawn until dusk. Beethoven’s father wanted to make Ludwig a virtuoso, just as Mozart’s father did. In addition to practicing on the clavier (modern piano), Ludwig learned how to play violin, and also began composing his own music. Presently, Beethoven is considered to be one of the best composers that ever lived. To learn more about Beethoven please click here.
In his older age, Beethoven had students, one of whom was Carl Czerny (1791-1857), Austrian composer and teacher. Upon hearing Carl Czerny, when Carl was only 10 years old, Beethoven was so impressed with young Czerny that he offered to take him as a private student. Carl Czerny became a great performer and concentrated on creating thousands of compositions, which are called etudes (piano studies), to help develop a strong technique of piano playing. These studies focus on the main elements which classical music consists of: scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. Czerny studies present such valuable input in developing the correct technique that from the moment of their creation until the present, every piano student must study these compositions as part of their curriculum.
One of the most celebrated students of Carl Czerny was Ferenz Liszt. Ferenz Liszt was born in 1811 and died in 1886. He was a Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist just as his piano “father” Carl Czerny and his piano “grandfather” Ludwig van Beethoven were.
Liszt became an unrivaled reigning king of classical piano, performing and composing constantly throughout his life. He attained “rock star” status in the 19th century.
The only composer who could rival with Liszt in the composition field was Polish-born pianist Frederic Chopin.
Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915), who lived in Dresden, was also a Polish pianist and composer. Just as Beethoven, Czerny, and Liszt, Leshetizky was recognized as a piano virtuoso at an early age. Leszetizky was also a student of Czerny. In addition to being a composer and pianist, he was also a great teacher. He taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, which he co-founded with the famous Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein.
Later on, Leschetizky taught in Vienna, just as Beethoven and Czerny did in their time. One of his many students was Vassily Safonoff. To find out more about Leschetizky please click here.
Vasily Safonoff, another Russian pianist and composer, was born in 1852 and died at the outbreak of the second Russian Revolution in 1918. Becoming a director of the Moscow Conservatory in Russia in 1889, Safonoff became one of the most prominent teachers in Russia. Safonoff’s musical grandfather, just as Leschtizky’s musical grandfather, remains Ludwig van Beethoven. To find out more about Safonoff, please click here.
Among the roster of brilliant pianists and composers that Safonoff taught were: Alexander Scriabin, Nikolai Medtner, Josef Lhevinne, and Rosina Bessie (later Lhevinne).
Rosina Bessie Lhevinne
Professor Rosina Bessie Lhevinne was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1880 and died in Glendale, California in 1976.
Professor Lhevinne graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1898 winning the gold medal for her graduating year. She was also a professor at the Julliard School of Music for more than half of her life. Lhevinne became the most valued and brilliant teacher in the history of the Julliard School of Music. One of her most noted students was classical concert pianist Van Cliburn. Van Cliburn won 1st place in the International Moscow Tchaikovksy competition in 1958. Rosina’s musical great grandfather, Ludwig van Beethoven, is three musical generations away from his talented daughter.
Professor Donald Walker
One of Rosina’s students, Donald Walker, became a professor of piano at Northern Illinois University in 1967, where he continued to teach until his death in 2002. Professor Walker was known as one of the most prominent teachers in the United States throughout his 35-year teaching career. Yevgeniya (Jane) Lepskaya was a student of Dr. Walker during her studies at NIU from 1997 to 2000. This removes Professor Walker to the fifth and Yevgeniya Lepskaya to the six’musical generations away from Beethoven.
To find out more about Yevgeniya Lepskaya please click here.