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From: Sherman Friedland stella0733@sympatico.ca
Subject: Re: Death of Rosario Mazzeo

I studied with Rosario Mazzeo from 1957 until 1961. He was ,without a doubt the most influential being in my musical life as well as in all other avenues. He had developed the Mazzeo System clarinet, an instrument that literally freed the player from useless superflua that impeded musics way. I was, at first skeptical, then more accepting until I finally used a set of his own which I found to be a way to achieve a fluidity and a more musical approach to what it is we do, and, although by mechanical means, the results had to do with sensitivity, and musicality

Even though the instruments never came into popular usage, it was not that they were not equal to the task of eliminating certain difficulties, for they were. What prevented wide utilization was availibility of only one make and perhaps one or two to try, rather than the wide array of instruments available. During my retirement concert on June 1, 1997, I was plagued by DeQuarvains Syndrome, an extremely painful ligament problem in my left wrist. It was only with Rosario's instrument that I was able to play the concert. Like many other of his students I have always taken photographs and organized concerts and tried to lead as he so well did and I am absolutely positive it was his influence that helped as he has been always in my mind.

What a force existed at the New England Conservatory in Room 23 on Saturday mornings, for that is when he held forth. At that period all attended his master class and the night before all of us hunted for our best reed, for there was an ordeal to be faced in the morning.

There was no time to swab, hardly a time to think, this was the intensity of the man. This was unquestionably the finest playing of all of our lives, for only perfection was accepted. The competition was incredible as it was and is in the business of earning a position in an orchestra, so this was incredible preparation from a man who had done it all, including the BSO and the BSO audition process which has become the world model.

I knew that he had been quite ill, but I had always hoped that he would be able to retain his original plan of living until 120. He told us he had plans until then. I and all of those whose path he crossed will remember him with respect and affection always.

Sherman Friedland

Remembering Rosario Mazzeo: An Obituary
Margaret Thornhill

As Sherman Friedland noted on the Klarinet bulletin board, Rosario Mazzeo, one of the most influential clarinet teachers of the century, died July 19 at the age of 86. Clarinetist, bass clarinetist, and personnel manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for over thirty years, he was also chairman of the woodwind department at the New England Conservatory of Music. After his retirement from the orchestra in the 1960's, he embarked on a second thirty-year career, moving to California, where for a decade he presented a distinguished chamber music series with the Crown Chamber Players at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was a faculty member at UCSC, Stanford University and the San Francisco Conservatory, and accepted distinguished pupils from all over the world at his Carmel studio. He was renowned for his master classes, his columns in the Clarinet magazine, his book (The Clarinet: Artistry and Excellence/Dorn. 1990), his coaching at Tanglewood, and, in other circles, for his Ansel Adams-inspired black and white photography.

Hearing Rosario Mazzeo play Brahms in 1968, when he was still in his prime, was a revelation. As a performer, he was noted for his incredible range of dynamics, the warmth and beauty of his tone, and especially his committment to the score. Rosy had no use for "artistic temperament" in his colleagues, himself, or his students. He believed, more so than any artist I have ever known, that the performer should be the servant of the music, not the other way around. His perfectionism was such a part of his nature that he left no commercial recordings as a soloist. As far as I can tell, he considered chamber music the greatest art of all, in part because of the test of character it requires to perform it well.

He had a distinctive teaching style which was not at all based in the student emulating the playing of the teacher. In fact, he had scorn for multi-generational performance traditions which could not be supported from the music itself. In the decade I worked with him, he never played a note at any of my lessons. Instead, he would use words and concepts, conduct, exhort, and expecially use his often blustery singing voice to demonstrate how a phrase should go. In this he was extraordinarily effective.And although anyone who has read any of his writings knows how deeply he understood the mechanics of playing the instrument, how he led his students to think for themselves about cause and effect, and how ably he communicated his ideas about technique,(frequently using humorous analogies), his musical insight was probably his greatest single gift. His convictions about musical interpretation were profound. If you had a difference of opinion, you had to work hard (and support it from the score) to make it equally as convincing as the phrasing he heard in his head. Most of the time, the results were better if you went with his concept. Making music for him in his studio was actually a partnership: he was conducting, either physically or intellectually, and the object was an ever higher musical ideal. For the student who could appreciate his greatness, the attempt to fully realize those ideals became an almost sacred quest. There was simply no such thing as perfection: it was always, tantalizingly, just beyond reach.

Unlike many famous artist-teachers, he was kind. He had no need to tear down the ego of any of his students. Instead, he empowered them., helping them build upon their successes. His personal power, which drew able students like a magnet, was the wamth and positivism of his personality, his profoundly convincing musicianship, and his ability to absolutely focus on each student. When he was teaching, he was totally involved.

His students mourn the passing of a great artist, but even more, the loss of a gentle, ebullient and generous friend, who touched and changed our lives.

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