From the dark side
I just read a fascinating article in the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/nyregion/redemption-of-a-lost-prodigy.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
Thanks for posting that. Quite a read.
I read that article. It's extremely well-written but I kept thinking that perhaps the writer should have just left Mr. Chandler in peace. Seems as if Mr. Chandler has lived a good life on his own terms, and quite successfully too by most metrics (professional career that paid well enough for him to pursue his passion, a long marriage, etc)--who is anyone to describe him as "lost?"
Very sad read really, I do agree with Mary Ellen though, he should be left in peace to live his life how he wants to live it..........though it would have been a glittering career.
I believe Mary Ellen has it right, but "left in peace" seems to imply a victim struggling on the fringes of society. To my mind this is a slanted piece of journalism, trying to portray tragedy where none exists. Child prodigies of various degrees of prodigousness are frequently over-praised and pressed into making a career move far too young. Mr Chandler was lucky to have discovered quite early on that he was temperamentally unsuited to becoming a professional violinist. It was a painful discovery at the time, but he moved on. Did it ruin his life? No. Was the world deprived of a great talent? Probably not. Think of the countless talented sportspersons who were forced to find another career on account of injury or having their opportunities thwarted by chance. What is so special about musicians?!
Somehow this isn't sad at all to me. He escaped the grind, ends up building yachts in New York City, sails across the world for fun. One flew over the cuckoo's nest. You guys are always informing teens how tough a musician's life is. And Steve I agree with you, slanted piece...it struck me when the writer tries to ask Perlman if some guy got a better grade than him in a school recital once 50 years ago. Really?
It also struck me that the violin depicted in the NYT article looked in remarkably good condition for one that we were told had been in an unopened case for 50 years - strings, bridge and chinrest apparently very well preserved. Or were we seeing an example of journalistic dramatic licence somewhere along the line?
Meanwhile some of us adult-starters with no special talent are determined to slogg on down the amateur's path....
Interesting. He comments that Galamian was an idiot. This was not the case. It is true that he rarely demonstrated in lessons and when he did it didn't sound too good. However, he was teaching at least 40 hours a week if not more, so he was always out of shape. His success was due to the fact that he was able to get his students to practice, not a small feat. Chandler said that Galamian never said your playing was good, only better. I believe it was at least my 3rd year of study that he said something was good. I practically fainted. With many of his students he set up an adversarial relationship so the student was constantly trying to prove to Galamian that they actually were "good."
A moving story, and I fear far more common than we like to think.
He hasn’t completely given up! A jury grade received more than 50 years ago still matters to him.
Right, and he says that he “hates” his violin so very much, yet there it still is....I’m sure he could have sold it off for quite a bit if he really wanted to wash his hands of it completely.
It's so sad that he hasn't continued to play as an amateur... in the true meaning of the word.
Boats and violins actually have much in common. Both, in their traditional forms, are contraptions made of wood and wire. If you've sailed a boat you know that the rigging sings in the wind. Their forms can be voluptuous and their structures gorgeous. I've been attracted to both since I was young. I'll read the article later; right now I need to go practice.
I might gather incorrectly that he felt robbed of time and his childhood. I am not sure this was so much a mental breakdown as a rebellion against the thing that he felt robbed him.He spent the rest of his life reclaiming it.
Interesting responses. My personal take on the article is that Mr. Chandler (interesting name choice for a boat builder) has a mixed relationship with the violin despite all of his talk, he still owns the violin and, if the pictures are to be believed, he takes good care of it. Maybe he still plays it for himself when far-far away from other people.
By the reporter's own admission, he had to ask Mr. Chandler more than a few times for an interview before one was granted. I am not so sure Mr. Chandler wanted his story told to the world as much as he wanted to get the reporter to leave him alone.
This is just guess work, but Mr. Chandler and I were born the same year. If he's a virgo, then our birthdays are really close together. I remember a nautical movie when I was growing up called "Away All Boats" starring Jeff Chandler. I've always remembered it. Maybe that movie is why he liked that name. His violin does appear to have had loving care. And if it had really been neglected for 50 years, the bow would have been rendered unusable by bow mites. Thus, I suspect, he's given it more care and attention than he would like to admit. Typical love/hate relationship.
It's OK. I agree with the person that stated that quitting was right for him. He clearly did not enjoy the process, so why prolong it? Make your original teacher happy? Not fair.
My father had a mentor (medical doctor) who liked to say that what you do is not what you're good at-- it is what you are. He saw many gifted surgeons, for example, wind up in radiology because they couldn't handle the instant decision-making and high-ego, macho culture of the operating room.
BTW, "chandler" is a seller of equipment to boats and ships.
“Then he placed it to his chin and released his bow. A warm, glorious tone rose through the apartment. Then he bowed again, violently sliding his hand up the violin’s neck, and a graceful, thunderous sound filled the room. Then the note faded away.”
Can I suggest we re-imagine the story, substituting "circus boy" for "violin prodigy". A child of 9 is found to have a talent for tumbling and is sent to be trained by a troupe of circus artistes. After 6 years of intensive practice he becomes adept at the high wire and the flying trapeze, but decides he has had enough of being controlled by adults and wants to lead a normal life instead. He runs away from the circus and becomes an accountant. When asked 55 years later whether he has any regrets he answers "Nah, I hated it then and I hate it now". The interviewer decides this doesn't make a good story, tries to depict him as a bum and headlines his piece "Redemption of a lost prodigy" (redemption - "the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil"). Unintentionally rather appropriate I think!
I agree with Adalberto Valle-Rivera...
Mr Chandler is quoted as saying “My biggest regret in life is that I let lots of people down,” he said. “They worked hard. But they worked hard to turn me into a trained monkey. Anyone can become a monkey. Even a chimpanzee can become a concert violinist.”
I feel like I should weigh in on this, because I have a lot in common with Mr. Chandler.
I read the above post with interest. I somehow envy people who find one thing and do it superlatively. Some, like Menuhin, or Min Kym whose book I have just reviewed on maestronet, are channelled into a path when young. Others find it in early (or late) adulthood. For example, I recently chatted with a (can I say 'my') violin / viola /cello maker who is like that, and who says that after eight hours at college during the day, he would go home and spend eight hours making instruments in the evening too; and for decades has neither stopped this pattern of work, nor spent time on marketing, competitions, or building a reputation, though word of mouth about the excellent affordable instruments generates a flow of sales. Whereas I have done many things, though I was never star as a child, and that is rewarding in a different way.
I don't think it's sad at all. I think it's lovely that he knew when the time was to stop. He saw music for what it was to him, and that it wasn't something he would have been happy pursuing forever.
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