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Jacob Lateiner Tribute: A Former Student Responds

With much honor, I add my thoughts to your tribute to the late faculty member Jacob Lateiner (“Jacob Lateiner: Teacher, Artist, Magician,” Juilliard Journal, February 2011). My years in his class (1984-1990) made me the pianist and teacher I am today. Yes, his piano lessons were not lessons, they were performances, as Robert Taub mentioned in his article. There was a lot of pressure; however, it was meant to prepare you as a pianist for the unforgiving “professional ear” of the public. I was more nervous to play for him at my weekly lessons than before an audience of thousands because I knew the high standard of musicianship he expected us to master with just one week of practicing. I remember practicing five or six hours a day to learn and memorize a sonata movement in one week while trying to also explore all the details he had ever shared with me about previous pieces. Sometimes he kept me on just one measure for the whole lesson and I went home with “brains on fire.” There are so many memories of him as a mentor and artist that I will forever treasure. Yes, he was tough, but he made us all the musicians we are today, and for that, we thank you, Mr. Lateiner.

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Clementa Cazan German (B.M. ’88, M.M. ’90, piano)
Westbury, N.Y.

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