Dr. Susan Svrček has served on PCM’s Piano Department since 2001 and has established a versatile career that encompasses critically acclaimed solo, chamber, and orchestral appearances in the United States and abroad. An avid teacher, Dr. Svrček gives master classes across the U.S., as well as in Japan and Korea. She has served on the piano faculties of Scripps College, Claremont Graduate University, and California State University Fullerton.
What is your favorite piece, performer, or composer: SS: Only one? It’s not possible. But I will begin with pianist Artur Schnabel. His playing of Mozart’s Rondo in A Minor, KV511 is revelatory. Favorite composer? Mozart, followed by Beethoven. Other pianists? Of course! Alfred Brendel (love the intellect), Mitsuko Uchida, and this could go on forever…
What is your favorite musical word: SS: The first word that comes to mind is teneramente – Once upon a time, in 1969, I was in a master class given by Karl Ulrich Schnabel. Referring to Brahms, he said, “The teneramente of Brahms’ genius is intense enough to burn a timid soul.”
What is something about you that most people don’t know: SS: During the summer of 1976, my mode of transportation was on the back of a motorcycle.
What is your favorite concert you’ve given or attended: SS: Concert attended: a recital by Arthur Rubinstein at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I sat in the front row. It was as though I could reach out and touch him! After the program, since no one was guarding entrances and exits in those days, I slipped backstage via the nearest doorway. No one else was there. I stood in front of some door, and it suddenly opened. There he was! Politely, I congratulated him on a beautiful recital. He reached out and took my hands and gave me a kiss on the cheek! He said, “Why, thank you!” I scurried off, the moment etched in my memory enough to make me forget what he played on the program in the first place. However, that program is still in my archives. I’ll come across it some day.
Concert given: Beethoven Concerto No. 4, with a community orchestra. The really important part for me was several days BEFORE the concert. It was a dream I had. At the time, in our living room, there was a table lamp. The base of this lamp was maybe 3 feet tall, and it was a full-body statue of Beethoven, complete with a swirling cape. So, in my dream, I was practicing the Fourth Concerto when the base of the lamp came to life. And there stood Beethoven…right next to me! My German is not the best, and so we spoke in English.
Me: How are you?
Me: So, how am I doing here?
LvB: You’re doing just fine.
And then I woke up. A few days later, the concert came and went and was a success. Now, I always ask him to be with me.
What do you like most about teaching: SS: First, I love getting students to think. I’m not too fond of just telling them what to do. I try to get them to see how I work things out, to get them into my brain.
Second (of many more reasons), after I’ve taught a piece a hundred times, I love seeing or hearing something for the first time that I had never seen nor heard before that moment. The look on the student’s face is often priceless. We’re all students. Some of us have simply done it longer. Students keep us honest.