Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- VIDEO: SNL Imagines What Would Happen If Bernie Sanders Was Really Larry David
- Read the Cover Story: Amy Duggar King: I'm Doing It My Way
- See the Top 10 Super Bowl Food Searches on Google – and Get the Recipes
- VIDEO: Bernie Sanders Banters with 1-Percenter Larry David on SNL: 'Enough Is Enough!'
- VIDEO: Ted Cruz ... or Tom Cruise? Zoolander Stars Break Down Presidential Race on SNL
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- May 14, 1979
- Vol. 11
- No. 19
For Sascha Gorodnitzki's Roster of Prize-Winning Pianists, Being Good Is Not Good Enough
The crisis? Baffled by troublesome passages in Prokofiev, Fredrickson was appealing for help from her coach, the Juilliard School's celebrated Sascha Gorodnitzki. To her relief, Gorodnitzki checked his appointment book and announced, "I think I can take you the hour before dinner."
Fredrickson's pilgrimage was extravagant but not without precedent. The 74-year-old Gorodnitzki's students have been known to fly in unannounced from Texas, Montreal and even Tokyo. Though his consultation fees run to nearly $100 an hour, there are no complaints. "Do you think any of us would do this," asks Fredrickson, herself a senior faculty member at Chicago's American Conservatory, "if he weren't really worth it?"
Based on performance, the answer is obvious. In the past two years alone Gorodnitzki's students have won 40 major awards in world-class competition. Marvels Juilliard's Dean Gideon Waldrop, "It's an incredible record."
Gorodnitzki's style, like that of many successful coaches, is both supportive and intimidating. Pacing his fifth-floor studio and listening intently as Korean pianist Miryo Park prepares for a Carnegie Hall competition, he offers an uncompromising critique. "You know, it's very good, dear, but it's not wonderful," he says. "I wouldn't take money out of my pocket to hear you do it that way." Moving to the keyboard to demonstrate a passage, he urges: "You need more charm, dear: It must be a seductive phrase."
Why do pupils as accomplished as Gorodnitzki's put up with such assaults on their egos? "The difference between Sascha and other teachers," Fredrickson explains simply, "is that even more than a coach, he's an artist who can play better than any of us."
Born in the Ukraine, Gorodnitzki came to the U.S. as an infant with his parents, who founded a college of music in Brooklyn. He earned a place on the faculty by the time he reached high school, won the coveted Schubert Memorial Competition in 1930 and went on to a long and distinguished concert career. But his mastery was never as effortless as it appeared. "I would sometimes lose as much as eight pounds during a performance because I perspired so badly," he admits, "and I never wore my glasses. They would steam up so I couldn't see the keys."
At 38, Gorodnitzki was still a bachelor. ("It never occurred to me to date one of my students," he says. "I was concentrating too hard on their playing.") Then, in 1940, he met 23-year-old Virginia Henderson—a student, but not one of his. For once, Gorodnitzki's mind was not on his music. "I bought him a copy of Rachmaninoff's E-Minor Symphony," she recalls. "He gave me a perfume—Tigress." They were married two years later.
Today Gorodnitzki occasionally teaches in their seven-room apartment overlooking Central Park. An unending stream of visitors includes their photographer daughter Diane Sue, 30, devoted students and sometimes even royalty. King Gustaf of Sweden sat in on one of Sascha's classes; Princess Irene of Greece turned up at another. Gorodnitzki, however, never lets the glitter go to his—or his student's—head. When his pupil André Laplante won a silver medal at the Sixth Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow last June, the maestro fired off a typical cable of congratulations. "Thrilled. Proud," the telegram read. "But still room for improvement."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!