Alfred Cortot

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Alfred Denis Cortot (26 September 187715 June 1962) was a Franco-Swiss pianist and conductor.

Quotes[edit]

  • Infant prodigies do not necessarily become great musicians. I have had over three thousand pupils, and I am convinced that the proficiency which some display is no more than a manifestation of dexterity and an extraordinary natural imitative faculty of children.
    • "Do Infant Prodigies Become Great Musicians?", Music & Letters (Apr., 1935)
  • The musician's technique, in fact, should be as protean as the actor's. The best method of attaining this is by combining the qualities of the artist and the technician. To do this it is essential, that in addition to concentrating upon musical technique, one should keep in touch with the other arts. They provide that general culture to the musician without which he will never become a great artist.
    • "Do Infant Prodigies Become Great Musicians?", Music & Letters (Apr., 1935)
  • It seems to me that this last piece, The Poet Speaks, which is the title Schumann gave to this immortal work, should be a transition into a kind of intimate reverie. It is not just about making a beautiful sound and expressive phrasing. You also need to create a sense of dreaming. The truth is, you need to dream this piece, rather than play it.
    Will you allow me to take your place?

    These two phrases are not connected. They are two different elements… of the same musical state. Here, like a question… And here again, another, tenderly asking the way. And from this moment, you should convey the music not just through the notes but through some kind of inspiration drawn from its immortal spirit. Now the sonorities should fade away…grow fainter and dimmer…and you are left simply in the presence of a reminiscent dream.

  • Russian students? you ask. Yes, we have white Russians but not the Soviets. They have a wonderful school of their own which has produced superb musicians such as Sviatoslav Richter, Oistrakh, and Rostropovich. Those Russians that we have here chose freedom, but their Slavic temperament manifests itself just the same, and they have a marked talent for music.
    • in "Visit with Alfred Cortot" by Alexander Kosloff, Music Educators Journal (Feb.-Mar., 1962)

Quotes about Cortot[edit]

  • Alfred Cortot was always a controversial pianist. Some listeners revered his playing, particularly of Chopin, as the embodiment of essential Gallic virtues, intelligence, clarity and elegance. Others thought it pallid, mannered and inaccurate, particularly in his later years.
    • Cyril Ehrlich, The Musical Times (Jan., 1981)
  • The outstanding exponent of the French school after Pugno was Alfred Cortot, a remarkable and unusual pianist. … After graduating from the Conservatoire, Cortot plunged into the musical life of Europe, and not only as a pianist. …
    How could he possibly find time to keep his fingers in shape? The answer is simple: he didn't. Cortot was always making mistakes or having memory slips. These would have been fatal with a lesser man. With Cortot they made no difference. One accepted them, as one accepts scars or defects in a painting by an old master. …
    There was in his playing a combination of intellectual authority, aristocracy, masculinity and poetry. Cortot had a unique style, and a Cortot performance could always (and still can be recognized from his records; he made hundreds) by its sharpness, point, clarity of line, unmistakable rubato, sheer intelligence—yes, and by its wrong notes, too.
    • Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Pianists

External links[edit]

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