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ARCHIVE: Remembering Lynn Harrell

Originally published 5/1/20


Lynn Harrell’s death has brought to mind a few memories I would like to share. Let me begin by saying that the worldwide mourning of his passing is evidence of life after death, if not physical but surely artistic. My son Erik studied with Lynn for several years beginning at age 13. It was my friend Ken Goldsmith’s suggestion that I have Erik play for him. I was hesitant at first, but then arranged a meeting. Lynn recognized Erik’s talent and agreed to teach him. I was thrilled, and asked what he charged for lessons. Lynn said that since I was a colleague he couldn’t charge me. I told him that while I appreciated his generosity, I would pay him another way. I asked if he liked wine, and he said he did. So, at the end of each lesson I gave him a paper bag that contained two or three very fine wines. I sat in on every lesson, which proved to be an education for me as well as my son. Lynn was able to demonstrate his ideas through flawless playing, regardless of the repertoire. Following one lesson, he said he wanted me to hear something. It was a recording of a Bach Cantata with his father, Mack Harrell. After one part he said, “Now, THAT’S a line.” His pride was glowing. In this excerpt I heard the vibrato, phrasing and tone colors that I had been hearing during countless lessons. Lynn lost his father when he was only a teenager. While this recording showed a personal connection, it was also proof that great artistry lives after death.

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