MUSICTEACHERS.CO.UK VOLUME 2 ISSUE 1, JULY 2000  
Online Journal

Stan really came into his own when he moved to Freiburg in 1968 as Professor of harpsichord and early chamber music at the Hochschule, and I was lucky enough to go there in the same year as one of his first students. Stan was determined to set up his concept of an enlightened musical learning environment, and Freiburg was the ideal place to do it. Freiburg then was an idyllic place to study. The Hochschule was relatively small but very international, and with one of the most distinguished faculties in Germany. It was dotted round the town in historic buildings such as the lovely Wenzingerhaus on the Münsterplatz. With characteristic style, Stan soon had us harpsichord students fitted up in a country house just outside Freiburg, in grand rooms with chandeliers and windows opening on to a park. There we had weekly mammoth sessions for his whole class lasting basically all day, with a prolonged lunch break in the local Gasthaus. It was all totally different from the usual mean idea of institutional education which Stan had known in London, with students creeping from one grotty little room to another for allocated lesson times on their own. As well as the Hochschule, there was the big, light and airy flat in the Zasiusstraße where Stan and his first wife, Jane, dispensed inexhaustible hospitality, enlightenment and entertainment, often until far into the night. Stan took an extraordinary interest in his students, treated them as personal friends, and was unlimited in his generosity towards them.

Stanislav with violinist     Karen Raby
Stanislav with violinist Karen Raby

In those days Stan can only be described as stunningly brilliant as pianist and harpsichordist. He had a particular feeling for Chopin and Ravel, which he played extremely well. But his harpsichord playing, specially in big Bach pieces, had a compelling power and sheer brilliance, which I have never heard from anybody else. There was nothing of the little, precise, sour, academic sound that harpsichordists sometimes make, and particularly tended to make in those days. Stan was a big man.

Because of the development of my own career, I lost contact with Stan somewhat in the 70s, but occasionally heard of his doings. He was always a great enthusiast and missionary, and I remember hearing of a lunchtime recital of The Art of Fugue in the Wigmore Hall which began at ten past one, but Stan got so enthusiastic in talking about it that they were still there at half past four. Students of mine were very excited by his British Broadcasting Corporation television broadcast of the Goldberg Variations. I got in contact again in his last days in Freiburg at the end of the 80s. By then he was living alone, or as alone as he ever was, since he had an amazing ability to attract devoted friends to look after him. At that stage, he was being looked after by his student Barbara Willi, who is now professor of harpsichord at the Janácek Academy in Brno.

Versailles seemed inevitable for his extremely active retirement, because of its history, and also of course because he was lucky enough to have Diane there. I visited him often, always greatly to my profit, and he came over each year to England and gave classes for me. Up to the last few months of his life I remember he always got up incredibly early to do technical exercises on the harpsichord, and he was always playing. One of the memories I shall always treasure is of him and Charmian playing the Bach sonatas for harpsichord and violin in his flat. The communion of musical minds of that quality, at home, in intimate, informal circumstances is what brings us into contact with the great hearts and minds of the past; not the electronic commodities of the marketplace.

In his last years, Stan fretted about perpetuating himself. This is natural for people, but I think wrong. Time is a dimension like any other, and things have their existence in time. Stan's life will always exist indelibly in time, and in our memories of him. I think he realised this because of his interest in Buddhist philosophy, but also because of the music he loved best. It is only after many years that one comes to realise that the greatest of all harpsichord music is without a doubt the music of D'Anglebert. On the harpsichord time, the temporal relationship of one note to another, is the sole means of expression. D'Anglebert explores this wonderfully, not driven forward by relentless motor energy, but suspended in time, and creating a world of infinite grandeur and nobility. Nobody understood this better than Stan: it was his music.
David Ledbetter  


Problems? Comments? Suggestions? Contact Us.
Site coded by passive.
Copyright © Bridgewater Multimedia 2001.