“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”


Haydn: Cello Concerto no. 2 - 1st and 2nd movements

Interpretation Class
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Yuri Ahn (cello) with Dina Vainshtein (piano)


(Music Playing)

Great. Well done. Bravo.


You’re great, wonderful. Say, you know why
Hayden puts those trills in, in order
for people to applaud and apparently in
those days people applauded in the
middle of the piece and then maybe if
somebody played beauty they applauded, oh
great, like in a jazz group nowadays. That’s why he put the trill there

Beautiful. Well you’re great and yeah, this is a
very exciting moment because you are like a chrysalis about to become a fabulous butterfly and it’s always very very exciting to watch that moment. You’ve spend an enormous amount of time learning to play beautifully practicing very hard, and playing in tune, and playing everything right and beautiful. Everything is beautiful. And now the question is what is it for and who is it for? It’s not for yourself. It’s for other people so I’m going to invite you to
step out of the comfort of doing things for yourself and start doing things for other people. These kidsHow old are you?

Eleven, ten, twelve

What the hell is a ten-year-old, doing what is a ten-year-old doing on a Saturday morning in a class right? What, why, they’re here they’re here to hear you play. And they want to learn something from you and the thought hadn’t crossed your mind because you were so concerned about how difficult the Haydn Concerto is. And I know it’s very difficult, but I’ve got some good news for you. You can play the Haydn Concerto.

Thank you.

You can play it, you don’t have to worry about it. Now you start concentrating on these people and seeing what do you have to offer them. So you’re sitting a singer, one thing I would suggest incidentally Dina is if, Iwere conducting this I play that a tiny bit faster because if you think oh, if I’m to show you.

(Music and humming)

So it’s easier to sing if it isn’t too slow. And it’s in four not in eight or 16 right. So try from there.


Just imagine going through life with the orchestra doing that before you enter a room right, and you’re sitting there
worrying about your f-sharp and seeing whether it’s in tune. But actually, what an introduction right, so you should
already be getting excited and ready and full of energy and it’s connecting and saying you won’t believe what you’re
about to hear you know. Here we go.


That’s already much much much better we, could do more right. So first of all, the first thing that F sharp is the best note on the cello. Sid you know that? I just as I just invented that right now.


I just swear the best note on the cello it’s such a gorgeous urn and I cannot tell you how many people have told me that cello is their favorite instrument. It’s my instrument, so oh I love the cello, people say oh I love the cello. Why? Because it’s the greatest instrument to sing. Just that F sharp, play that.


Wow isn’t that beautiful. You know there’s a famous story of the cellist, who in Czechoslovakia he was playing in the orchestra and here he played one note, he practiced one note all the time, one note. And his wife stood this for 15 years and then finally she said, “young why do you only playyour colleagues they play up and down the cello, you just play one note”, and he said you don’t understand, they’re looking for it. I found it.


If you could play that note as if you found it ah like that, as if you never had to play another note in your life. All right, should we hear some build up?

(Music and humming)

Yeah that B is so beautiful because it’s such a surprise. Incidentally, whether your company Dina, my recommendation is play the violin part, play it from the beginning.


Just like equal all right. So when the B comes


And if you’re lucky you’ll get a sigh from somebody in the audience. But you all only get it if you look for it.


Oh you’ve got a beautiful smile from somebody in the background. Here we go.


Those gestures, that’s a bowing gesture. 18th-century bowing gesture and you knew exactly how they did it with that, so a little elegance there but that’s coming. That’s beautiful beautiful can you look a little, can you pretend you’re having a good time?

Yeah, yeah

I know you’re thinking all these people, the lights, television cameras. No, it’s just you, sharing this beauty. That’s all it is and you know an occasional smile or something on your face, which suggests I love this. That’s the secret, it’s a secret of many musicians, I mean it’s a secret of yo-yo ma for one thing and he plays the cello well also. But you always have a feeling when you’re listening to yo-yo that he’s having more fun than anybody else around. You know isn’t that great. Jaqueline Despres was the same absolutely. She said “I love my life, I love this music, please listen to me, listen listen how beautiful it is” and it just emulated out of her. Rostropovich the same, all those people we love right? They love music. So if you can be loving music be that who you are being, not I’m a cellist and I’m doing well and I’m practicing and I’m nearly there. No, you’re here.

And make, yeah make it really so grand that she finds it irresistible.

(Music, piano playing)

That the whole purpose of that is to prepare the entrance. It is like what’s the name of the guy who he used to say at the beginning of the Johnny Carson show? “Here’s Johnny!” And then, so that’s here’s Johnny.

(Music Starts)

Here it comes.

(Music playing)

You see now now it makes sense for them to come all the way from Connecticut because anything less than that, they’re wasting their time. But to hear that, you know she’s 13 years old and she got up at 6 o’clock this morning to drive from Connecticut, to be here, to hear you. Now you’ve got to put something out. But that was great, it was beautiful. Nobody was thinking, I’m wasting my time right here. And that’s our job, is to give people the feeling that something’s available in life that they don’t have regularly in their life. Normal life doesn’t produce that. But that was great and your virtuosity was easy for you, it wasn’t an effort. All that work was well, well-spent but now forget about it. It’s like when you listen to a great high-fi set, you know the music is so beautiful, you don’t think, “wow I wonder how they made that speaker”. You know, what kind of machine, what kind of amplifier is that. People don’t think that, right. So that’s technique is like the amplifier and the speaker machine it’s just the thing that the music comes through, it’s not the reason for doing it. You got that? But that was great, and I love the B, the B was so beautiful.

(signing) Was a little free was a little playful? Beautiful. Should we do it one last time? And now put your focus entirely on the people who are in the audience all right, and think how privileged you are that they’re here isn’t that amazing. And you know there are 20,000 people listening through that camera that’s another.

Yeah. You see her face, oh my god no. Instead wow that’s great, you know talking about Jacqueline Duprey, I told the story before but I never get tired of it, this her mother told me this. Jacqueline Duprey was five years old and
she went in for a competition that was her first competition and she was so excited she was running down the corridor with her cello like that and one of the mothers the other mothers said, “I can see that you played” and she said, “No I’m just about to.” Isn’t that incredible, that’s a five year old who cannot wait to give away what she’s got. Isn’t that beautiful? If you could be five again that would be something, all right so this is the last time and then you’ll
go out you’ll be run over by a bus and that’ll be the end. (Laughter) But we’ll be able to tell your parents the last time she played it was so beautiful.

Okay, once again. (Piano playing) This is to get you excited. Are you excited? Yes.

(Music playing)

Who’s there?

Now enjoy.

Here comes the trill.


I’ll let you get through the second piece. The second key right, so just do the intro.

You know I have I am I have a memory when I was a little kid, I played this concerto and my teacher, he found my
playing a little, of that passage, a little dull and he knew that my girlfriend was called Stella but that I had a very
great interest in somebody else. He knew that and while we were playing he sang I remember, I still have it in my ear, (singing) “Stella is my girlfriend but Mary is much nicer”, and every time I hear that phrase I remember Stella, I remember Mary. And so, can you imagine you were telling a story like that, it’s beautiful what you’re doing it still, it’s beautiful what you’re doing, but it doesn’t have character, it has beauty, but not character. So beauty is sound and poise and all those things but, I want to hear a story, I want to hear something that really made a difference to you. Could you do the introduction? Tell us the story.

(Music playing)

That was beautiful, that was beautiful, much nice, much nice. Beautiful, beautiful. And you know you’re amazing, because those kids actually are saying yes, yes they say, I saw it they’re saying wow, this is great, isn’t that beautiful yeah. Wonderful, one more time and make it very special.

My recommendation to you Dina is to keep it moving, so that she can be free. If the tempo gets a little too slow, the problem is the plane gets stuck. So your job is to keep her moving. Now if she does that you can take a little bit more time before you come in there. Lovely, once again.

(Music Playing)

That’s fine, you’re going.

Now we’re really interested to know what’s gonna happen next.

(Music playing)

The trills coming.

Talk to me, talk to me.


Okay now look, remember I said I said at the beginning this is the moment when you stop being chrysalis and start being a butterfly? That just happened. Right, it’s the difference between being a child and being a woman, being an artist or being a student, and it’s a great moment, and everybody here who’s watched this is moved, excited, and grateful. First of all, you play as well as you do, if you don’t play as well as you do, this conversation wouldn’t be relevant. I’d tell you to go and practice. I’m not telling you to go and practice, you’ll practice anyway. the question is whether you can stay in this butterfly state of giving yourself away. That’s the only purpose of a butterfly is to be beautiful, do you know that, and then we go ah so beautiful. It’s the same with an artist, we want you to share yourself and this is a great moment for you. And another question is are you going to go back to school and become a dutiful school girl, or are you going to stay being a butterfly.

Stay being a butterfly.

Great, terrific.


And when you when you do that Yuri, you’ll be able to influence the people around you, because there’s a huge problem for a young musician, is that the environment is not conducive. The trouble is people are competitive and
they’re in the competitions, and I play better than she does, and he plays better than I do, and all that stuff has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Right, nothing. And the trouble is that’s like a magnet it just draws or like like gravity draws you down so there’s a wonderful thing that a great American pianist called Leon Fleisher said, and I this is like, like the Word of God here. He says, “classical music is an act of anti-gravity.” Isn’t that beautiful? That’s why we that’s why they get up at six o’clock in the morning to drive here because of the force of anti-gravity which music provides. That’s our job and it’s a sacred task you know. This is we’re like priests with this work, with this word to give out in the world. Isn’t that great, it’s a beautiful thing, and every morning when you get up you’re like yes I can give it away again, give it away again and again and again, isn’t that wonderful? So do the opening of the slow movement so we hear that because that’s such a
beautiful thing.

(Music Playing)

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, bravo, bravo. (Applause)

You know what gives what gives me great confidence about you is as you played this you didn’t go back into
your other way you stayed being a butterfly and you were very conscious of it. I felt you just giving yourself away which is great, I mean that’s huge what you’re doing now. I have one little thing to add to this which is this is an aria, it’s a song, and the accompaniment is like an opera orchestra and they’ll be as free as you want them to be, so you’re not stuck with the rigidity of an accompaniment. You can be freer. So do the beginning again and think of it in two – and even in one so (humming) and don’t think about being directed by them.

Isn’t that amazing how free that feels because instead of worrying about that you’re thinking of e d C sharp d e f. You’re as free as that and she’ll find a way cuz she’s a great musician too, she’ll find a way. Alright one thing you
know I recommend you start the vibrato just a little before like like a breath of a singer. Do you ever breathe actually? You do? Really great, great I’m just checking because so many instrumentalists don’t breathe they, don’t realize that they’re singers so breathe exactly like a singer and breathe with your breath and also with your bow so you go yes.

(Music playing)

In a great Opera Orchestra they’ll be even freer than that. Can I show you? (Piano playing and humming)

Isn’t that nice when your feel completely free, isn’t that lovely, and you do beautifully, beautifully. And so when you’re playing with the piano, she’s great, you’ll never get a better pianist than Dina, you simply tell your pianist or your orchestra please feel it into and feel free, and then you’ll be as free as that. Shall we do it again, it’ll be great. Just to do the upbeat to that bar if you can.

Really beautiful.


I happen to know that that was about as well as you’ve ever felt playing the cello isn’t that right?

Yeah it is.

You could tell, I’m having such a wonderful time. And it was because of you and it was because of them and you connected with the audience in a way that wasn’t present at all when you began. That’s a huge breakthrough, huge breakthrough. You’re a wonderful young artist and you’ve got a beautiful future as a musician but never lose sight. Don’t ever go back to being a chrysalis. Now you got that, this is a huge thing to discover and the gratitude and love that’s in the room right now as a result of your playing is so precious that it can’t be improved on, isn’t that great and you know when nobody’s thinking she’s better than less well, nobody’s thinking that. It’s not about that, it’s about love, and communication, and expression, and human beings fully open to each other. That’s what it’s about.

Look at the look at her face isn’t that beautiful. That’s her gift to you, isn’t that beautiful, you won’t forget that and
you’re sitting in your practice from a walnut hill, don’t forget that face okay, you got that. Because that’s what it’s
for. Love you well done.


Robert Dawson Scott
Its fantastic, isn't it. The pupil is clearly a reserved kind of person and finds his ebullient manner and even the things he is saying, difficult, even intimidating, to begin with. But, as someone says further down this thread, to get beyond mere technical proficiency, as a musician, you simply have to get rid fo that reserve - when you're playing anyway. To give her her due, she really tries to follow what he is telling her even though she is obviously sceptical. And then something magical happens. The audience notice the difference in her playing even before she does. And then she realises what is happening, that this madman may be right, despite her reservations, and grows into it. And she goes from a chrysalis to a butterfly - just like he says.
Watching this made me totally forget i was having a bad day
Dora Chance
I've been watching a lot of these masterclasses lately, but this one is truly special.it really looks like one of my own lessons when I was studying piano. My teacher was as excited and madly in love with music as Mr. Zander, sometimes she was even more extreme - dancing around the room, stomping feet, singing loudly. She really pulled me out of my impossible shyness and insecurity, layer after layer, year after year. I didn't choose music as my career, but those years shaped the person I am now and I will cherish them for life. Thank you so much for these videos
The Musical Events
An amazing generous, courageous teacher and a student beeing open to get totally transformed by the experience just great!
WOW the difference in her playing after a few wise words from him..Incredible. I Love the way he is so positive and makes this a fun happy class.

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