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A Journey Beginning at Juilliard: Reflections on Gratitude

Donor Tozan Hardison

Tozan Hardison

by Tozan Thomas Hardison

I am happy to be on the Augustus Juilliard Society list even if I am among the modest supporters financially. However I must tell you that even though the fame of The Juilliard School is for its fine musical education, the thing I am most grateful for is the vision of William Schuman in his idea of a panoramic historical and humanitarian education to make musicians more in tune with whatever they choose to study. I am seventy-one now and still have not exhausted the areas I want to study as a result of the education I had at the Juilliard. How can I ever repay such a gift of spirit and inspiration?

As a country boy from North Carolina who had never touched a Steinway concert grand or heard of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, when I went to Juilliard to audition for entrance, I remember as if it were yesterday how kind that famous piano faculty was and how enraptured I was with the sound of that piano that almost cried for me when I played the "Tempest Sonata" of Beethoven.

But in spite of being shy, I had the good fortune to meet and talk to Martha Graham who took fifteen minutes one day after I watched her do her exercises alone in the big studio on the sixth floor, to explain why the "going beyond the end of the limit of the stretch" was so important to give definition to the stretch itself.

Edouard Dethier who taught violin/piano chamber music was another open beautiful soul who encouraged us to love music the way he did. Francis Goldstein was a fierce goddess teaching keyboard skills and I loved her Zen-like austerity and no-nonsense demanding encouragement to make us think and listen ... and I use those very skills today and remember her with humility. My teacher, James Friskin was a great friend and mentor, as was Joseph Bloch who taught us to love the literature for the piano as he did.

These people still teach me every time I practice for a recital today. Their ideas and wonderful humanity are a model for many people like myself I am sure. I stand in awe of collecting such a group of people to be the faculty that I was privileged to know. Mr. Schuman had a far reaching vision for us all and I am grateful every day for it.


Tozan Thomas Hardison (B.S. Piano and Pedagogy, 1959; M.S. Piano, 1960) is a Zen Buddhist priest who was for several years a Visiting Lecturer at Tohoku University in Japan. In 1997, he retired to his native North Carolina, and built a Soto Zen Buddhist Temple and Urasenke Tea House in the Appalachian Mountains. He is now retired to Durham, NC, and active in the musical community of Duke University and Chapel Hill where he serves on the board of Mallarme Chamber Music Players.

 

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