It’s amazing how many people who had the great pleasure of working with Albert consider him not just teacher, but mentor. Yes, he was a “specialist” in early music, but what he taught was all of music, and not just how to play with others, but how to play with life. To be caught up in his world was to look deep inside the music, to get “the shivers,” to meet an extravagantly colorful cast of characters, to read and think and laugh, and to eat and drink very well. What a stroke of luck to find Albert early in my Juilliard years, when he was just beginning Aston Magna, and eager to recruit interested students to come to Great Barrington, exchange our steel strings for gut and try out his Baroque bows. I spent eight summers there, learning that music is not in a world by itself, but integrally connected to the art, architecture, literature, dance and historical context of its time. In that musical and scholarly community that he created, we learned to make spaces between the notes, relish the symmetry in the gardens of Versailles, and dance the sarabande.
But it was all of life that Albert cared about, and I find his wisdom so relevant today as I try to guide my own children and students. At a time when I was feeling particularly lost, struggling to find my place in the daunting professional world, I saw Albert dining alone in a café on Columbus Ave. He waved me in, bought me lunch and at once tried to sort out my confusion. He told me to “make a list of everything you want to accomplish in the next year…..then in the next 5 years….then the next 10 years……then 20 years….and now listen to that still quiet voice inside, that’s connected to your heart and your gut, and let it guide you…..”
The big picture, and the most essential truth, that was Albert. He once told me that he loved museums because if he got very quiet and looked at great art for a long time, the paintings spoke to him. I didn’t have any idea what he meant at the time, but 30 years later, a quiet hour in a museum fills me with a calm joy. So take a few minutes out of your busy day, sit down somewhere, just be still, and listen very carefully…..you just might hear, way in the distance, Les Sauvages played on Baroque harp.
Cellist, San Francisco Symphony
(and occasional viola da gambist and Baroque cellist)