Gradus ad Parnassum

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Stepping Stones The Gift Accolades An Artist's Life An Artist's World
Contact Elizabeth Powell

Lucette Descaves
1906 – 1993

Elizabeth Powell
in 1954

At fifteen, she returned to France where she took her Premier Prix at the Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris, studying with Lucette Descaves, a leading pianist of the day, close to Debussy, Ravel and Fauré through her own teacher, the legendary Marguerite Long, and through whom Elizabeth came to play to the composer the Poulenc works she was preparing.

These figures linked her to another distinguished artistic lineage going back to Chopin through Marguerite Long's teacher, Antonin Marmontel, his teacher (and father) Antoine and his teacher Pierre Zimmerman, who, in 1838, with another of his students, Charles-Valentin Alkan, had partnered Frédéric Chopin in Alkan's arrangement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

For the aspiring artist, the musical and broader cultural value in this incomparable lineage - its scions, pupils at one time or another of these teachers, include Georges Bizet, César Franck, Edward MacDowell, Claude Debussy, Robert Casadesus and Jacques Février - was incalculable.

Frédéric Chopin
1810 – 1849

Pierre-Joseph Zimmerman
1785 – 1853

Antoine Marmontel
1816 – 1898

After graduating, she continued studies with Marguerite Long in Paris and Claudio Arrau in London during his frequent visits there.

Marguerite Long
1874 – 1966

Claudio Arrau
1903 – 1991

In Paris, teaching had focussed on the hand and the fingers as the primary interface between the score and the interpreter. Arrau (his line, too, going back to Beethoven and Czerny, through Franz Liszt and Martin Krause) showed her how freeing the movement of the whole arm and the upper body could transform the quality of the sound produced. He showed her, too, immense generosity of time and spirit at their sessions, an example she incorporates innately, with his technical lessons, into her own work and life and into her teaching.

During this period, her prize winning performances at international competitions, including Geneva, the Busoni Competition (Bolzano, Italy) and Rio de Janeiro, where she was awarded the Lili Kraus Special Prize for Interpretation, also earned her the Harriet Cohen International Medal in England, she was appearing regularly in recital and concerto engagements in the U.K. and abroad and, by the mid-sixties, her career as a concert artist was established.

© 2007 Elizabeth Powell