DEEN LARSEN on Rudolf Jansen

DEEN LARSEN on Rudolf Jansen

It takes the words of a generous, masterful teacher to fully praise another endowed with the same qualities. Thus do we reverently present this citation by Deen Larsen, renowned educator, founder, and director of the Franz-Schubert—Institut to his colleague, pianist Rudolf Jansen, on the occasion of a celebration of his life and career. Jansen, in addition to his deep involvement with the Franz-Schubert-Institut and his own solo piano career, has performed and recorded with the leading singers of the 20th and 21st centuries: Elly Ameling, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Schreier, and Brigitte Fassbänder (to name but a few). Deen’s words praise Jansen’s rigorous yet life-affirming teaching with great eloquence—a tribute fitting to such a great artist.


Dear Rudolf and Christa!  Friends and Colleagues!  Ladies and Gentlemen! 
We are now celebrating the life and work of a great musician and a great teacher.  Celebration is appropriate and wise, and it is also wonderful fun!  Let us remember the story of the old monk.

This old monk had lived his long life as a pious recluse, a strict celebate, keeping his body and soul clean and pure from sexual lusts and carnal pleasures.  Nearing the grave, the ancient monk went one last time into the deep vaults of the monastic library and found there the original document containing the laws of his order.  There he looked for the law that had ruled his life and discovered these words:  "Therefore, in all things and at all times celebrate!"  But the letter R had been smeared away in the document, perhaps by a tear or a drop of wine, - and so the word "celebrate" had become the word "celebate" - the demand for joyful pleasure had turned into a demand for sober renunciation.  So we see how important it is to pay attention to every detail!

That is not a mistake Rudolf Jansen would have made, a musician famous for his attention to every detail, every note, every phrase, every marking, every word and every letter.  Our Rudolf Jansen has rightly read the holy book of nature's love and beauty, and fully embraced the true passion of our art and life. Rudolf Jansen has repeatedly shown us the authentic reality of celebration in music, and in particular, in the poetic music of full-blooded art song, the songs of the heart's faith and suffering.

It was Elly Ameling who first introduced Rudolf Jansen to the work of the Franz-Schubert-Institut in 1983.  Since then, Rudolf Jansen has returned many times to Baden bei Wien, and in the 33 years of our faithful association, he has made a profound impact on the development of some 500 young international artists, outstanding singers and pianists from 47 different countries.

What is it that makes such a great teacher? 

The Romantic painter Philippe Otto Runge believed that every portrait yearns to be a landscape.  For Rudolf Jansen the converse is true, and the landscape yearns to be a portrait.  Truly, Rudolf Jansen is that rare and precious teacher in whom all the component strands of music, poetry, humanity, and humour are woven together in one strong harmonious individual.  The landscape, or natural creative cosmos, is truly expressing itself in the portrait, or that individual named Rudolf Jansen.  So his excellence as a teacher is in fact the excellence of the sources which flow through him to his fortunate students.

Goethe teaches us that the Whole is active in each of its Parts.  And so, the memorable and life-changing teacher acts as a mediator or conduit for the eternal loving creative energy that shapes and sustains truthful beauty in our lives and art.

We remember his eyes, his voice, his hands - all alive with exciting energy.  We remember his humour and wit, how he often enjoyed using a clownish pantomime to launch students into courageous happy flight.  Rudolf Jansen is a truth-teller, who could mock ugly and heartless sounds, without mocking the person who was making them.  His is the healthy double reverence for the source of his art and for the recipients of his art.  The double faith in the deep quality of the songs and in the deep quality of the students.  He is both poet and pianist, humorist and scholar, strict taskmaster and loving friend, the Whole in full power acting through its chosen mentor.

Truly, Rudolf Jansen is blessed in his gifts and blessed in his giving.  I have encountered no teacher who is more greatly loved and admired.  A just and noble friend, serving equally the inspired poets and composers within him, and the promising youth before him.  Humble and generous, his life and work will live on in the lives and work of this and future generations.  Thank you, Rudolf!
Amsterdam, April 2, 2017

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