Some Yale professors draw crowds of hundreds with lectures on their latest novel or a pressing topic in international affairs. Others, like legendary School of Music piano faculty member Claude Frank, don’t say a word when they step on stage.
Tonight, Frank will perform the first recital of the season in the Music School’s Horowitz Piano Series, an annual event featuring a piano-oriented repertoire that will run until April. One of the most revered pianists of his generation, Frank has been on the piano faculty of the University’s Music School since 1973 and is renowned as a poetic interpreter of music by classical and romantic composers, especially Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Schubert.
“Claude Frank is a very revered artist throughout the world, and we’re very thrilled to have him at Yale,” said Vincent Oneppo, director of the Concert and Press Office at the Music School. “The audience here has responded really well to his performances in the past, and [Frank’s] human warmth really comes through in his playing.”
Frank will perform a program tonight that includes four Schubert impromptus, the Alban Berg Piano Sonata and Beethoven’s last piano sonata — No. 32 in C minor. He performed the opening concert in the Horowitz series last year as well.
While Frank only teaches graduate students, he is well-known, to say the least, among the undergraduate music community at Yale.
“As undergrads, we don’t get direct exposure to [Frank], but he’s regarded as sort of a guru,” said music major Dan Schlosberg ’10. “He’s like the bastion of the piano faculty here.”
Schlosberg, whose piano teacher Wei-Yi Yang will perform as part of the Horowitz series in February, said attendance at concerts like tonight’s is typically composed mostly of graduate students and a fair but fewer number of undergraduates.
“You’ll probably come if you’re a pianist,” he said. “But [for Yale College students], there might be more focus on undergraduate concerts, like the YSO.”
Many students, like Jose Meza ’10, weren’t aware that musicians like Claude Frank teach at Yale.
“I always knew Yale had a great music program, but I didn’t realize that we had world-renowned musicians teaching at the School of Music,” said Meza.
Schlosberg said with its high-caliber lineup, the Horowitz series could definitely be of interest to students not necessarily studying music.
“If you want to hear great piano music, this is where you come,” said Schlosberg. “By going to these performances, you can somehow change — or affirm — your preconceived notions of piano music, whatever they may be.”
The Beethoven sonata Frank will perform tonight is available on one of his milestone recording — a compilation of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, which was re-released in 1990.
The Horowitz series has showcased numerous prominent pianists since its establishment in 1999, including Radu Lupu, Immanuel Ax and Garrick Ohlsson. According to Oneppo, after Ohlsson performed in Sprague Hall last year, he was so thrilled with the acoustics that he said wanted to come back and perform again.
The Horowitz series honors one of the 20th century’s greatest pianists, Vladimir Horowitz, whose archive resides at Yale.
Tonight’s performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Morse Recital Hall of Sprague Memorial Hall. Tickets range from $10 to $18 for adults and $5 for students.