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<v [Host]>It's time now for another broadcast of the young musician. <v [Host]>These programs explore new ideas and concepts in music education, introduce <v [Host]>new works into the repertoire and offer fresh insights into established compositions. <v [Host]>Our host for the series is Sahan Arzruni, pianist, <v [Host]>composer and music educator. <v [Host]>Mr. Arzruni: <v Sahan Arzruni>Today, I have the extreme pleasure of having world renowned pianist William Masselos as <v Sahan Arzruni>my guest. Well, I don't have to tell you how excited I am <v Sahan Arzruni>and... <v William Masselos>Thank you Sahan. It's my pleasure to be here. But world renowned anyway. <v William Masselos>It sounds lovely. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes, you are. No question about it. <v Sahan Arzruni>But would you terribly mind if we started with music? <v William Masselos>No. Good. Good. <v Sahan Arzruni>Then we'll talk about it. <v William Masselos>Yeah. Sometimes one plays better than one speaks. <v William Masselos> <v Sahan Arzruni>We are going to play the Dvorak Slavonik Dances This is this is <v Sahan Arzruni>the number 4 from Opus 46.
<v William Masselos>Do we let the audience in as to how much we've rehearsed this? <v Sahan Arzruni>No, no. <v Speaker>[Both laugh] <v Speaker>[Masselos plays Slavonic Dances, Op. 46]
<v Sahan Arzruni>Mr. Masselos, I think one of the many extraordinary qualities that makes you such a <v Sahan Arzruni>great artist is your tone production. What are the <v Sahan Arzruni>ingredients that go into making such a gorgeous sound? <v Sahan Arzruni>Is it possible for you to isolate the physical elements and talk <v Sahan Arzruni>about them? <v William Masselos>Sahan. <v William Masselos>[clears throat] Uh, now, if I would be verbalizing on all of this in general, <v William Masselos>uh, you know that I stay away from from lecturing from master classes, <v William Masselos>from that of course, in a one to one relationship with my students, I stumble, stutter <v William Masselos>and finally get them to to understand a little bit of what I want. <v William Masselos>Uh, well, it comes to me like about arm weight. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. Yes. Where does that weight come from? <v Sahan Arzruni>Does it come from the arm? From the elbow, from the fingertip? <v Sahan Arzruni>Are there specific qualifications to the hand, for example, I notice your hands <v Sahan Arzruni>are very plump and uh useful and some pianists have very scrawny hands. <v Sahan Arzruni>Do those things make it... <v William Masselos>Yeah. Well, well. You mean I have a carpenter's hand.
<v William Masselos>With a low-set monkey thumb? [Arzuni laughs]. Uh, no, well, I - <v William Masselos>what comes to me now is is I think we should always investigate. <v William Masselos>Get to know our arms, hands, fingers, the various kinds of <v William Masselos>combinations that are possible. <v William Masselos>Uh, using the wrist, using the forearm, leaning in, leaning- put-pulling <v William Masselos>out. One might uh move in on a note, <v William Masselos>uh, using the piano as a floor. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>Uh, uh, for for uh walking, running, <v William Masselos>skipping. Well, this may be part of the legato thing. <v William Masselos>The sound. So that when it's comfortable on wandering around <v William Masselos>on this floor, it's- it's about uh <v William Masselos>thinking, I guess, in terms of a larger movement that may already start above the <v William Masselos>keyboard. And then and then descend. <v William Masselos>Mr. Freedberg said something in his book, but I don't have it right here about how he
<v William Masselos>said he remembered Brahms playing. <v Sahan Arzruni>Oh. <v William Masselos>Uh, maybe if you give me a minute, I can look it up. <v Sahan Arzruni>Okay. <v William Masselos>This is a book by and by Julius Smith <v William Masselos>on Carl Freedberg, who was my my teacher <v William Masselos>at the time. Well, since I was twelve and a half until I was <v William Masselos>twenty three. But anyway, he said <v William Masselos>um that that Brahms suggested that the chords be formed in the air. <v William Masselos>This is about Brahms' sound according to what Freedberg remembered, <v William Masselos>and that Brahms had said that he disregarded that the percussive <v William Masselos>party of the piano in favor of molding and meeting phrases so that the music sounded <v William Masselos>as though invoked from the instrument and not punched her. <v William Masselos>Banged. And according to him, Brown's playing, he says, gave an impression <v William Masselos>of great inner power, was very free with expansive full arm movements, <v William Masselos>uh, and and was able to achieve a marvelous arm legato in octave
<v William Masselos>passages in play. <v Sahan Arzruni>Mmm. <v William Masselos>Of course, that it created a sense of bowing is on a cello. <v William Masselos>Now, now, he suggested, Freedberg did to us, I remember, that <v William Masselos>to bring down the hands. Um, he suggests that the cords <v William Masselos>be formed in the air. <v Sahan Arzruni>What- what is it in the air? <v William Masselos>In the air, well, above- above that, you know what? <v William Masselos>You're coming for a form a paw - <v William Masselos>So you've got a paw there. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yeah. <v William Masselos>And it's the shape of the chord. And that you begin already in the air to think of what's <v William Masselos>ahead. And then you bring down the hands. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>As if pressing against a cushion. <v William Masselos>You can imagine that when it's making a crescendo before striking the keys. <v William Masselos>Now that this is another way of saying, I guess, depress the key <v William Masselos>somewhat devotedly. <v William Masselos>And, hah, of course, it depends on the musical content of the <v William Masselos>sound one wants. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. But once you have hit the note, what happens? <v Sahan Arzruni>Can you do anything afterwards?
<v William Masselos>I I'd like to think that when. <v Sahan Arzruni>It's something you... <v William Masselos>Hand because I like to give credit to the imagination, I want to give leeway <v William Masselos>to the imagination, because our imagination is fabulous. <v Sahan Arzruni>Mhm. <v William Masselos>And it can it can, I think, even change <v William Masselos>the sound of the imagination. Wanted to contact the piano <v William Masselos>on an inner level, maybe talk the piano into doing what it wanted. <v Sahan Arzruni>Well, it is interesting to talk about single notes <v Sahan Arzruni>and how they can sound different. <v Sahan Arzruni>But I think uh, the- the greatest quality an artist <v Sahan Arzruni>may have comes in playing a phrase. <v William Masselos>Yeah. Yeah. <v Sahan Arzruni>It's not terribly important how beautiful one single tone is. <v William Masselos>No, no, the phrase... <v Sahan Arzruni>It's how you shape that phrase. <v William Masselos>Yeah. And- and... <v Sahan Arzruni>And that's- that's what tone production is actually. <v Speaker>Whereas if you if you don't if you can manage to sometimes forget bar <v Speaker>lines, Freedberg would say a phrase should be, uh,
<v Speaker>sung. And if you if you do it slower than you can sing it, then again it dies. <v Speaker>There are many things also accompaniment figures. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>Can- can make the illusion of marvelous <v William Masselos>uh, um, swelling in the tone, which... <v Sahan Arzruni>Of course... <v William Masselos>After its played... <v Sahan Arzruni>With sympathetic vibrations, also. <v William Masselos>Oh, could be, never thought of it. <v William Masselos>Yeah. [Masselos chuckles.] <v Sahan Arzruni>You know, how about the emotional elements? <v Sahan Arzruni>There are physical elements? Okay. We understand, you know, the pressure of the arm, the <v Sahan Arzruni>weight and all that and the use of pedals, fine... <v William Masselos>Well, yeah. But the emotional thing... <v Sahan Arzruni>The most important is the emotional communication. <v William Masselos>Yeah, well that's that's where I say. <v William Masselos>I I I'm not quite quite sure how to say this. <v William Masselos>Let's say a Rudhyar, a Dane Rudhyar who is a philosopher might say <v William Masselos>music must do something to you... <v Sahan Arzruni>Mhm. <v William Masselos>Something vital, tonifying, magical. <v William Masselos>This is from one of his writings by the way. <v William Masselos>And he says the score is futile in itself. <v William Masselos>I may agree with that, but not completely.
<v William Masselos>In other words, he says the music is not meant to be pleasurable, soothing <v William Masselos>us away from the tragedy of life, but to exalt life in those <v William Masselos>who live. So this is, again, all about the the emotional - <v Sahan Arzruni>Content -. <v William Masselos>Content which- which the composer put in there and which we then, <v William Masselos>I guess, modify, add to, amplify with our <v William Masselos>with our own inner inner knowing and consciousness - <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes, yes. <v William Masselos>And experience. <v Sahan Arzruni>That statement is, of course, very true. <v Sahan Arzruni>However, there is one thing that I'm not quite sure that music is not necessarily <v Sahan Arzruni>pleasurable. <v William Masselos>Uh, well, I guess he was just uh taking a very extreme stand because <v William Masselos>uhh it's like Ives. Didn't he say? <v William Masselos>Sound, uh, is not - music is not sound. <v William Masselos>In other words, don't strive for beautiful sound first, but strive for music. <v Sahan Arzruni>Music, I see. <v William Masselos>And if it happens to be beautiful, okay.
<v William Masselos>I think they're thinking in terms of very profound. <v Sahan Arzruni> ?inaudible? <v William Masselos>Yeah. Yeah. And and... <v Sahan Arzruni>I don't know, for me, the music gives such incredible pleasure. <v Sahan Arzruni>Not only, you know, spiritual pleasure, but almost bodily pleasure, doesn't it? <v William Masselos>You mean, you'd like to play Chopin. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. That's something... <v William Masselos>You'd like to hear Richter play Chopin. <v Sahan Arzruni>Well, I'm not quite sure about playing Chopin... <v William Masselos>Yeah, yeah, yeah. You've you've you've said it delights you in a very, very special <v William Masselos>way. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>You get sent off on cloud nine something. <v William Masselos>[Laughs]. <v Sahan Arzruni>But before we go to cloud nine, can we get down and play some more music? <v Sahan Arzruni>[Laughs] <v William Masselos>Yeah. All right. Fine.
<v Sahan Arzruni>Mr. Masselos, do you find a difference in your <v Sahan Arzruni>playing when you are playing on stage and when you're playing at home? <v Sahan Arzruni>Does the audience do something to you? <v Sahan Arzruni>Is playing on stage a totally different experience? <v William Masselos>I think you can answer that as well. <v William Masselos>It's it's never the same, is it? Depends how much return of your own sound you get <v William Masselos>on the stage. But moral support you hear from yourself. <v William Masselos>It may be that everything goes out and you're so disappointed because you don't hear <v William Masselos>anything. But maybe it all remains on the stage and you're delighted and the audience <v William Masselos>doesn't even know they're present. Acoustics, piano... <v William Masselos>but I actually we probably practice after a certain stage. <v William Masselos>We practice something in- with- keeping in mind the fact <v William Masselos>that we're eventually going to do it in a big space, in a big hall. <v William Masselos>So then then we we try to project the present into the future and make the future <v William Masselos>happen now. And so we pretend
<v William Masselos>and we then immediately I find my ears listening in a much bigger space, even though I'm <v William Masselos>still sitting in my own room. <v Sahan Arzruni>Right. <v William Masselos>I could take one, one one then then <v William Masselos>listens through other people's ears in one's own studio. <v William Masselos>But thinking in terms of what's going to happen on the stage and so that you're not quite <v William Masselos>as shocked, uh. <v Sahan Arzruni>Then you are - <v William Masselos>What? <v Sahan Arzruni>Preparing yourself. <v William Masselos>Preparing yourself, then you you move the present into the future. <v William Masselos>The future becomes sort of like the past, because when you are playing, <v William Masselos>then you've already in your imagination done it before. <v William Masselos>And then you'll find nothing of it works. [Both laugh] <v William Masselos>You have to well... <v William Masselos>[Both laugh] You know all this. <v William Masselos>But also something that is so uh, a beautiful factor is when <v William Masselos>you have an audience that loves you. [Both laugh]. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes! <v William Masselos>And then you feed on this. <v William Masselos>And because the atmosphere is permeated with uh, with helpful <v William Masselos>thoughts, it seems, are strengthening ones or encouraging ones. <v William Masselos>And every tone rings more beautifully because of uh,
<v William Masselos>this. [Masselos chuckes] <v Sahan Arzruni>You try to establish some sort of communication right away, don't you? <v Sahan Arzruni>I mean, that is... <v William Masselos>Yeah, we, well, no, we're not - we're sharing our <v William Masselos>our music. <v Sahan Arzruni>It's not a private affair, is it? <v William Masselos>No, it's not a private affair with uh, it's it's - <v Sahan Arzruni>I mean, you know. <v William Masselos>Yeah, yeah. <v Sahan Arzruni>You are trying to find maybe a spiritual or intellectual or <v Sahan Arzruni>emotional interchange, if you will, with <v Sahan Arzruni>the audience. <v William Masselos>Yeah, right. I don't know whether, uh, yeah. <v Sahan Arzruni>You're going to quote? [Arzruni laughs] <v William Masselos>I'm gonna quote somebody else. But this is very high falutin. <v William Masselos>It's the noblest function of art. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>This is Raymond Drake. <v William Masselos>Which is to seek illumination in portraying the wonders of God. <v William Masselos>Well, after all... <v Sahan Arzruni>It's almost metaphysical. <v William Masselos>We're a physical trying to make life a little more beautiful <v William Masselos>in our our our art. <v William Masselos>We're just portraying the wonders of what we're- we might imagine, <v William Masselos>is in it, for in a higher state.
<v William Masselos>So then therefore, we're not gonna do it just for ourselves, because particularly <v William Masselos>fellows, I think we want to show off a little bit, too. <v Speaker>[Both laugh] <v William Masselos>That's how we want it. <v William Masselos>And I don't know why I say that. <v Sahan Arzruni>But it's true. <v William Masselos>So we want it to show that maybe we have deeper feelings or more <v William Masselos>fun feelings. And this can come through in that. <v William Masselos>And of course, we play to an audience, uh, not always the first row, <v William Masselos>but maybe, maybe a few specific people in the audience. <v Sahan Arzruni>But- but isn't there a huge affair going on between the pianist and the audience? <v William Masselos>You mean a love affair? <v Sahan Arzruni>Mmm. <v William Masselos>Yeah. <v Sahan Arzruni>I mean, the whole seduction scene going on... <v William Masselos>Love all over the place. And there the pianist is wooing the piano, and <v William Masselos>with that you woo the audience. And they in turn sit there and probably... <v William Masselos>[Masselos chuckes] So I, um, <v William Masselos>yes. It's about life. <v William Masselos>So therefore I remember Freedberg and ?inaudible?
<v William Masselos>would say, don't only play musically because just to play musically <v William Masselos>is fine. But remember, music is about life, okay? <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>Gestures are are also what one does with hands, I think, and face <v William Masselos>is almost more telling of the the inner- inner man. <v William Masselos>And then actions, words. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yes. <v William Masselos>Because they're- they're not- we don't think them out so much. <v William Masselos>It just happens. <v Sahan Arzruni>Yeah. <v William Masselos>And then so it reveals that more of the insights... <v Sahan Arzruni>Mr. Masselos, it was a very great honor and a privilege to have you. <v William Masselos>Arzruni, sir. <v Sahan Arzruni>It was, uh- <v William Masselos>I- I thank you, but the only thing is... <v Sahan Arzruni>I don't dare to ask you to come back. <v William Masselos>Well, I was going to ask you, if we might? <v Speaker>[Both laugh] <v William Masselos>Thank you. I've enjoyed this. <v Sahan Arzruni>Well, it was a great privilege. <v Sahan Arzruni>This is Sahan Arzruni. So long. <v [Host]>Thank you, Mr. Arzruni. <v [Host]>We welcome your comments on tonight's program and suggestions for a future broadcast.
The Young Musician
William Masselos
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
WNYC (New York, New York)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
On this segment of 'Young Musician,' host Sahan Arzruni interviews guest William Masselos, an American classical pianist. Segment includes two piano performances by Masselos interspersed with questions from the host about Masselos? musical process.
Series Description
"The Young Musician is a series designed to examine issues concerned with musicianship and pianism, and to explore topics in music education. These programs also present compositions suitable for teaching young musicians."--1975 Peabody Awards entry form.
Guest: William Masselos Host: Sahan Asruni
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Guest: Masselos, William
Host: Arzruni, Sahan
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
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Identifier: cpb-aacip-f7832558b73 (Filename)
Format: Data CD
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:00:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “The Young Musician; William Masselos; WNYC,” 1976-01-12, WNYC, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 28, 2022,
MLA: “The Young Musician; William Masselos; WNYC.” 1976-01-12. WNYC, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 28, 2022. <>.
APA: The Young Musician; William Masselos; WNYC. Boston, MA: WNYC, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from