"This uncompromising musical titan influenced myself and countless young musicians to make intelligent, honest musical decisions while, most importantly, remaining faithful to the composer's intent. I am forever indebted to him and will always stand in awe of his formidable musical standards and unshakable musical integrity."
Eliane Lust- Pianist
"I met Leonard Shure when I was 16 years old. I auditioned for NEC while he was at my piano teacher's home - the late Birute Smetona. I feel incredibly honored to have met him and that he accepted me as a student. I have never forgotten this and had him autograph my Mozart score. Although I didn't attend NEC after all, I always wondered what might have been."
Musicologist, Canton Ohio
Member, Akron Symphony Chorus
"Leonard was my great friend and teacher-but of art, not music. He took one look at my early work (abstract expressionist) and said "too obvious, not you." I struggled to change and the work became better as I developed my own vision. He also started to draw and of course, it was beautiful. He was a great man and a true poet and mentor."
Mira Lehr - Artist, Miami Beach, Florida
"On the first page of my score of the Mahler 6th I have a single word written, and the word is “Shure.” That is a reminder to create in my mind the granitic power than he could produce on a piano. That is the best way I could create it in my mind that strength and formidable power, and there it sits forever."
"Leonard Shure's best playing not only "held" you, it held you in a full-nelson and declaimed at every moment: "THIS is the way the music goes; it goes IN NO OTHER WAY." One has to go artists like Maria Callas and Orson Welles to find such strongly opinionated performances. It will seem strange to many, I suppose, but the pianist who, to me, seems most like Shure is Cortot. Neither ever conceded an inch in their view of the music to the relatively mundane vicissitudes of moving ten fingers over a keyboard, and both, at their best, appeared nearly to transform music into something like verbal utterance. For Cortot it was poetry; for Shure, prose as eloquent and convincing as Lincoln's and Jefferson's."
Critic: The Jewish Advocate (1977-1990)
Teacher of English: Buckingham Browne & Nichols School Cambridge, MA. (1970-2006)
I consider Leonard Shure to be one of the titans of the piano in the twentieth century. I had the privilege of playing with him and hearing him perform and teach. Any musician who had the experience of hearing him analyze a musical score could never approach music again without an entirely new insight into interpretation.
I feel that my association with Leonard, both as a friend and musical partner was one of the outstanding points of my life. He always treated me like a doting big brother and during a period when I was in emotional stress, he took me to his house in Nantucket for a week, just to cheer me up. When we were both at the University of Texas, John Silber left to become President of Boston University and asked Leonard to come with him to head the piano department. Leonard told him that he would only come if the offer extended to me as well. I owe the rich experience of the last thirty some years to Leonard Shure.
With admiration and gratitude,
George Neikrug - Professor of Cello, Boston University
Pianist Leonard Shure was a part of American music’s “Greatest Generation.” He was a giant in the Boston musical community when I was growing up. In college I used to audit his master classes in chamber music. Walking into that classroom was like entering a church, and he presided like a prelate. He performed with the Akron Symphony in the early to mid 1950’s, also in Canton, and often with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Fittingly, Benjamin Zander, Leonard Shure’s colleague at the New Conservatory, here offers his own reflections:
“Leonard Shure was one of the great influences of my life, and was insufficiently recognized as one of the giants. Koussevitzky saw this early on, and invited him to play the first Brahms with the Boston Symphony. He approached that music with the most titanic, granitic sound I ever heard, making every other performance seem slight by comparison. There were also parts of his teaching that I have absorbed into my DNA. He was the link to Schnabel, who was the greatest figure of the previous generation. Schnabel named Shure his assistant. For an American musician to reach that prominence at that time was really extraordinary. Leonard Shure stopped at nothing to get truth from the music. You’d have to go to Toscanini, Bernstein, Mitropoulos, Serkin to find a match for him. His greatest playing was the greatest playing I have ever heard on the piano.
Music Director, Akron Symphony Orchestra
Music Director, Orlando Philharmonic
(Reprinted with permission by Christopher Wilkins and taken from the “Prelude-A Note From the Maestro” page in the Akron Symphony Orchestra's program book on March 13, 2010, the night that Benjamin Zander guest conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 9.)
I only studied with Leonard for a few months during 1963-64, while he was temporarily at Eastman, but those lessons constitute by far the most significant pedagogical influence of my formal musical education. To say he was dogmatic is of course an understatement, as is any assertion that he (or for that matter, his mentor Schnabel) was always correct about what he preached. Still, he could teach you to THINK at the keyboard like no other musician I'd previously come across, and with his strong persona, he drove home his points in a manner that indelibly branded them into your consciousness. It would take decades before aspects of musical structure that he routinely taught would make their way into (good) general North American pedagogical practice.
Many years ago, I was invited to give the initial Cecile Genhart Memorial concert at Eastman, and the next morning, to address piano students who by that time had never had the opportunity to meet her, let alone study with her. She was a very fine teacher, stressing many important issues that Leonard may have thought unimportant, and the occasion demanded that I talk mostly about her strengths. However, toward the conclusion, I felt compelled to say that, deeply appreciative as I was, I had worked with other great musicians who also had influenced my development, perhaps even in more important ways. At the conclusion, a fellow walked over to me and introduced himself as an ESM doctoral student who had just completed his Master's with Leonard at Boston. Then he said "When I heard you last night, I said to myself, "this guy sounds like a Shure student, not anything like (the current Eastman faculty member who is a noted Genhart acolyte).
And for anyone who does not know, my recording of the Diabelli Variations is dedicated to Leonard's memory. Whether or not he would have approved.
Robert Silverman - Pianist
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