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George Pappastavrou Interviews

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Pappastavrou, George.
Title: George Pappastavrou Interviews
Inclusive Dates: 2012
Quantity: 1 folder (SC)
Abstract: Video interviews of concert pianist and professor of music George Pappastavrou, by pianist and music scholar Artis Wodehouse.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

George Pappastavrou, a first-generation American of Greek descent, was a professor of music at Syracuse University and a concert pianist. He grew up in Syracuse, New York and attended Juilliard as both an undergraduate and graduate student (1949-1956), where he studied under Alton Jones and Irwin Freundlich; his fellow students included the well-known pianist Van Cliburn and soprano Leontyne Price. In addition to playing and recording in the United States -- particularly the music of composer Charles Ives -- he also toured Russia at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture and sponsored by the USIA (1974), China (1987, 1988), and Singapore (1990). He was a professor in the Syracuse University School of Music for more than thirty years (1961-1992) and director of the School from 1983-1992. During his career he knew and worked with a number of notable composers, musicians, dancers and other artists, including Henry Cowell, Calvin Hampton, Howard Boatwright, Aaron Copland, Luise Talma, Louis Krasner, and Martha Graham.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The George Pappastavrou Interviews consists of six video interviews, recorded over the course of eight days in 2012. The interviewer is Artis Wodehouse, a musician, musicologist, and former student of Pappastavrou. The interviews span Pappastavrou's entire career, from his childhood in Syracuse, New York to his days at Juilliard, his travels to Europe, Russia and China, and his years on the faculty at Syracuse University's School of Music. During the interviews Pappastavrou discusses his teaching philosophy, friends and colleagues (including dancer and choreographer Martha Graham), and his long-standing interest in and work on the music of American modernist composer Charles Ives. In addition to the video interviews, there is one DVD with simultaneously-recorded audio only.

Each DVD-R has been assigned an ID number; other than that ID number, all information given below, including dates and titles of interviews and the summary of contents, was provided by Ms. Wodehouse.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The interviews were received as audio files on DVD-Rs, which are arranged in chronological order by interview date, as given by the donor. Each DVD-R has been assigned an ID number; please use this number in addition to the title when requesting items from the collection.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has numerous collections relating to composers and musicians, including Franz Waxman, Miklos Rosza, and Arturo Toscanini. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Freundlich, Irwin.
Graham, Martha.
Ives, Charles, 1874-1954.
Pappastavrou, George.
Wodehouse, Artis Stiffey.

Corporate Bodies

Juilliard School of Music -- Personal narratives.


Composers -- United States.
Greek Americans.
Music -- Instruction and study.
Music education.
Music teachers -- United States.
Pianists -- United States.
Piano teachers -- United States.


Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms

Oral histories (literary works)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

George Pappastavrou Interviews,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Artis Wodehouse, 2013.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 27 Mar 2013
Revision history:

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Video interviews
SC 697 Video 8/6/12-1 Syracuse, ca. 1930-1948 (ID#: pappa_001)
Discovery of talent and first lessons. Teachers from beginning up to entry into Juilliard: general repertoire, techniques covered/imposed, personalities and manner of relating to students. The city of Syracuse: Depression years, economic situation in the city. The school system and attitudes toward high art. Musical/art institutions in the city; recitals and concerts both by local and touring artists and their effect upon knowledge and development. Growing up Greek American: education, upbringing, values. Early forces pointing toward a career as a pianist: friends, teachers, and relatives. Intellectual stimulation outside of the strictly musical: books, teachers, plays, and films. First performances.
SC 697 Video 8/6/12-2: Juilliard years 1949-1956 (ID#: pappa_002)
Primary teachers: repertoire, technique, and manner of relating to students, personalities. Ancillary teachers: historians/musicologists, chamber music, theorists, composers, Literature and Materials (L & M) of music: Bergsma, Ehrbar, Freundlich, Giannini, Goeb, Goldman, Hart, Herford, Hufstader, Jacobi, Kagen, Lloyd, Mennin, Persichetti, Tangeman. Samaroff, Hutcheson, the Lhevinnes, Gwendolyn Mackillop, Carl Friedberg, William Schuman. Jean Morel. Beveridge Webster. Juilliard Quartet. GI Bill. Juilliard Review. Martha Hill and the dance program.
SC 697 Video 8/7/12-1 Juilliard years 1949-1956 (ID#: pappa_003)
Fellow students: those of note, those of personal/musical significance: John Browning, Van Cliburn, Leontyne Price, Herbert Rogers.
SC 697 Video 8/7/12-2 Juilliard years 1949-1956 (ID#: pappa_004)
Order out of Chaos: Institute of Musical Arts and old Juilliard Graduate School, becoming the Juilliard School of Music; Literature and Materials (L & M) Course at Juilliard: teachers, what learned, influences. Frederic Jacobi, William Bergsma, Bernard Wagenaar, Peter Mennin, Vincent Persechetti, Norman Lloyd, Frederick Hart. Robert Helps. Justin Ehrbar. Jean Morel. Beveridge Webster. William Schuman. Juilliard Quartet – Robert Mann, Arthur Winograd, Raphael Hillyer, Robert Koff, chamber music class. Juilliard Review – fresh thinking. Martha Graham relationship with Jacob Druckman started 1950 ("I know how to lift myself off the ground" - Graham). Gian Carlo Menotti.
SC 697 Video 8/7/12-3 Baroque music, Landowska and Albert Fuller; Video 8/7/12-4 David Burge (ID#: pappa_005)
Piano Festival at NY State Fair, 2-Keyboard Concerto by JS Bach, performed 1940 (age 10). Wanda Landowska 1950 recital including JKH Fischer and influence on JS Bach. Fernando Valenti. 1960 NY Debut recital. Albert Fuller - his knowledge and his background. Purchase of Herz harpsichord and Gough clavichord. Ornamentation, treatises, performance practice and context. 1967 – CPE Bach 2 harpsichord concerto performed with Fuller and the Musica Aeterna orchestra, Waldman conducting. Hughes Cuenod. Fuller’s integrity. Development of embellishment and ornamentation. Microtonal music introduced at Juilliard. JS Bach’s instruments. Harpsichord technique vs. clavichord technique vs. piano technique. John Metz (Pappastavrou harpsichord student); tone clusters on harpsichord (David Burge).
SC 697 Video 8/8/12-1 Piano technique and training (ID#: pappa_006)
Veronica Rohan Sage – Matthay method; how did Chopin play – plaster cast of his hands – Chopin's piano. Malcolm Frager. Dealing with arthritis in hand. Causes of Leon Fleisher's and Gary Grafman's piano-playing problems. Tobias Matthay. Irma Wolpe. Gorodnitski’s Juilliard students hand position. Wolpe and use of thumb. Development of technical/ interpretive approach to piano playing. Developing effective, efficient practice. Alberto Jonas keyboard exercises. Brahms exercises creating problems. Survival at Juilliard. Freundlich on technique. Hedy Spielter (1956-60 period) personality, technique, "crackpots."
SC 697 Video 8/8/12-2 Piano technique and training (ID#: pappa_007)
Spielter using silent clavier. First two NY recitals: repertoire. Martin Canin introduced him to Irma Wolpe (spring 1962) – 6 months study. Studies with Irma Wolpe - supination stressed. References to Seymour Fink. Principle of teaching techniques to students.
SC 697 Video 8/8/12-3 Composers and important artists known or worked with (ID#: pappa_008)
Henry Cowell – finding music, and leading to performing his music, coaching with Cowell.
Oliver Daniel, head of Contemporary Music Projects at BMI, instrumental in introducing GP to Cowell and suggesting Ives Quarter Tone Pieces (1965) – John Kirkpatrick.
Ives Quarter Tone pieces and commissioned quarter tone works: copyright issues, Donald Lybbert – Phylliis Brynjulson, Calvin Hampton – ondes Martenot, Teo Macero, Bach C major Prelude in quarter tones – Leopold Stokowski's reaction, tuning problems in quarter tone music and on Odyssey recording, John McClure approaches GP about recording for Odyssey.
Ernst Bacon; Samuel Barber; William Bergsma; Howard Boatwright; Elliott Carter.
SC 697 Video 8/8/12-4 and 8/9/12-1 Composers and important artists known or worked with (ID#: pappa_009)
8/8/12-4: Aaron Copland, Paul Jacobs, Henry Cowell, Lucas Foss, Louise Talma, Calvin Hampton, Roy Harris.
8/9/12-1: Norman Dello Joio and Martha Graham, Leon Kirchner, Ernst Krenek, Henry Cowell, Dane Rhudyar, Peter Mennin, Vincent Persichetti, Wallingford Riegger [and] brass players at Juilliard post WWII, Roger Sessions, Halsey Stevens, Robert Starer, Virgil Thomson, Ben Weber, Stefan Wolpe, Irma Wolpe, Gunther Schuller, Louis Krasner, Edward Steuermann, Phyllis Brynjulson - Vocal Institute at Lake Placid, Myra Hess, Martha Graham.
SC 697 Video 8/9/12-2 Composers and important artists known or worked with (ID#: pappa_010)
[no separate description was provided for 8/9/12-2; presumably contents are same as 8/9/12-1]
SC 697 Video 8/14/12-1 Russia tour 1974 (ID#: pappa_011)
How tour came about – Ives Centennial – USIA involvement. Repertoire performed and where. Impressions of the respective societies and the role of Western and American art.
SC 697 Video 8/14/12-2 and 8/14/12-3 China tours 1987, 1988 (ID#: pappa_012)
How tour came about. Repertoire performed and where. Chinese composers and pianists, Chinese pianists who studied with GP. Impressions of the respective societies and the role of Western and American art music in China. Values of Chinese society. "Pianist’s Island." Piano in Chinese society. Influence of Russian teachers in China.
SC 697 Video 8/14/12-4 and 8/14/12-5 Educator at Syracuse University (ID#: pappa_013)
Previous experience teaching. How got job. Teaching philosophy: accomplishments/contributions to students’ development. Observations about the evolution of the Music School/Music Dept. over years at Syracuse University. Level of support for the music program and the nature of the student body over the years.
SC 697 Video 8/16/12-1 Charles Ives (ID#: pappa_014)
Charles Ives: repertoire, fit into continuum of American music. Bricouleur concept (Claude Lévi-Strauss). Multiple implications of Ives' thematic materials. Influence of Ives on Carter and Copland. Reception of GP performance of Concord over the years while learning. Reception of Ives music, generally, through the years. Ives' meaning to non-US societies (China, Europe, Russia). Art transcending a specific culture.
SC 697 Video 8/16/12-2 Charles Ives (ID#: pappa_015)
Personal background supported future involvement with Ives' music: Greek heritage, Veronica Rohan Sage, NY art community centered at Juilliard. Discovery of Ives sketches for 8th tones at Yale. New publications of Ives' works and new edition of Quarter Tone pieces. Gregg Smith. Observation of performances of Ives subsequent to performing Concord. Ives' recording of own work vs. other performers. "The Ives phenomenon." "What does sound have to do with music?" - George Ives (father of Charles).
Audio tracks
SC 697 Pappastavrou audio 8/12 (ID#: pappa_016)

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