Monday, April 18, 2016
On the New Dimensions talk that I described in the previous post, Andrew Harvey spoken a riveting way about the life and work of Seymour Bernstein, remarkable 88 year old piano teacher and composers who lives in New York City in an apartment he has occupied for some 45 years. Seymour does more than focus on technique (though he is a demanding teacher.) But unlike many teachers and performers today, he himself proceeds from a deep commitment to the spiritual aspect of the music. He himself communicates with the spirits of various great composers in the past to receive inspiration and guidance. Thus his work and teaching display a sacred quality lacking in most of today's music. Andrew has just completed a book of conversations with Seymour called:
Play Life More Beautifully: Conversations with Seymour by Andrew Harvey & Seymour Bernstein. I recommend it highly.
Here is a fuller description of this man and the book, taken from Andrew's website:
It started with a dinner party. When 86-year-old pianist and teacher Seymour Bernstein met Ethan Hawke, international film star, the two quickly discovered they shared a common malady: stage fright. Based on his familiarity with nervousness prior to concerts, Seymour was able to provide Ethan with invaluable insight and advice. That was the beginning of a deep friendship.
Renowned spiritual scholar and activist Andrew Harvey was a fellow dinner guest that auspicious night and contributed to the decision to create a documentary about Seymour exploring his unique combination of accomplished musician, teacher, and seasoned elder. The film, Seymour: An Introduction, directed by Ethan Hawke, has received enthusiastic critical acclaim and is an inspiration to all who see it.
Seymour and Andrew’s friendship has continued to thrive with a shared curiosity and appreciation for the intersection of life and art. The trusting conversations captured in this book between these two dear friends reveal key truths about passion and creativity through an exploration of music, difficult childhoods, the friendship of animals, and journeys of the spirit.
Memories meld with philosophy, and observations with reflections, dissolving the line between teacher and pupil. With equal parts candor and generosity, Seymour and Andrew offer a master class in playing life with our fullest, most gracious selves.
About the Author
Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, translator, mystical scholar, and spiritual teacher. He has written and edited more than 30 books—including the best-selling titles The Hope and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality as well as at various spiritual centers throughout the United States. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Sacred Activism. www.andrewharvey.net
Seymour Bernstein is an American pianist, composer, and teacher. He is the subject of the documentary Seymour: An Introduction, directed by the actor Ethan Hawke. One of the most sought-after workshop leaders and piano instructors in the United States and abroad, Mr. Bernstein is also a prolific composer. His compositions range from teaching material for students of all levels to the most sophisticated concert pieces. He continues to perform as a guest artist with chamber ensembles and serves regularly on the juries of a number of international competitions. He maintains a private studio in New York City and is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Shenandoah University. www.seymourbernstein.com