When you get the opportunity to play with one of the great teachers, players and musicians of all time when you are 18, it changes you. I became a “professional” when I went to Marlboro Music Festival for the first time as an 18 year old student because I learned that the only thing that was important was that I played music and took it very seriously. My early exposure to the Beethoven String Quartets was with the Guarneri Quartet recordings. Stunning. That first summer I got to play in a group with David Soyer and it was the Schubert Octet. The piece is like an hour long and it is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. Getting to spend an hour on a stage with a great wise man is a gift in itself but we rehearsed for hours and hours and also took the piece on tour, maybe playing 10 concerts or so. This is what I remember about the influence he had on me.
He was the foundation of the group. So solid, and strong was how he played. These are also words that come to mind when I think of all those hours of rehearsal. Each phrase played with feet firmly planted on the ground but with such freedom. Freedom to play as you wanted. He would always talk about the fact that the person with the melody had the melody and that was it. When he would play a melody he owned it completely.
When he said something about music, you listened. The way he played a phrase you would think that was exactly the way it should be played. Such confidence and little doubt. I learned to be strong and not mess around. Being next to him on a stage you knew that this was serious business, not something to mess around with or toy with but something extremely important. No funny business. Although as many people know, he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met.
In rehearsals after much talking or debate, he would start playing almost immediately. This always seemed to say to everyone, Shut up! This is what matters, the sounds, the music. His music lives and we can hear him now as before.We can hear him still everyday, every second that we want to. He has given us so much and we have that forever. Thank you for playing with me for me and teaching me with every note and every slide. (He would always make fun of me for playing an instrument that you couldn’t slide on
Thank you Mr. Soyer.