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Remembering my Maestro

Fernando Germani

Great artists don’t waste their time, because they’ve got a goal that need all their time to be realized, day by day.

Fernando Germani has been one of these great artists, and his legacy is actually immense and extraordinary: the interpretation of an enormous repertoire including, recalling only the most important ones, Bach’s integral organ works, Frescobaldi, Franck, Reger and a wide range of antique, romantic and modern masterpieces from Sweelinck to Listz, to Hindemith. Furthermore a huge number of pupils, many of them of international fame, trained over many years teaching at Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome, and Accademia Chigiana in Siena.

If you never attended any of his concerts you cannot imagine the impact he used to have on the public at his entrance on stage, the energy he produced when, reached the instrument, he ventured with extraordinary ease and deep seriousness in awfully arduous programs, passing from unperformable demoniac virtuousism to magical "cantabile", in space and time suspended.

He was a teacher highly demanding to his students, nevertheless respectful of each personal inclination. He used to devote a great importance to piano studying, well over the conventional habit, as far as to Chopin and Listz, particularly taking care of "cantabile", revealing a deep ascendancy with Johann Sebastian Bach, who – it’s worth remembering – explicitly ask for cantabile in the Inventions’ preface.

During his lessons he often played for us, providing at the same time happiness and shame in impossible comparison. It’s a real pity that no recording remains of his Chopin studies: we who had the chance to hear it will keep forever an unforgettable picture.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare we may wonder: "what’s organ to him, or he to organ..."? Rarely we encounter a so magic and close unity of performer and instrument, but we would be on the wrong track if, with present eye, we would attribute it to an exaggerate specialization, such as an anticipating of more recent academic and cultural habits.

Fernando Germani was first of all a musician, and this would have been the maximum acknowledgement he himself would ever give to a colleague: "he’s a musician". In playing he used to cover his extraordinary technique putting first the music in its most intimate essence, organ or piano being only instrument at its service.

Maybe this personal rigorous and conscious choice has been the key of his success as one of the greatest organist of all time.

Alessandro Licata

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