Lili Kraus, a world renowned pianist, taught me for many years. She performed all over the world, the White House, the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, tours from Japan to Russia, South America to the Middle East, playing with all the great conductors. She was outrageously brilliant, speaking many languages beautifully, and was a consummate artist at the piano, having studied with great masters, following a pedagogical line descending directly from Beethoven. Combined with her studies with Bartok, and her own inventiveness as a pianist, she developed a distinctive technique that allows pianists to bring out the utmost possibilities from the instrument.
She was extraordinary for taking me as a pianist when I’d only been studying for one year and all the piano students around me were extremely advanced. She never hesitated in her decision, placing full demands on me, while always pacing where I was in my development. She taught me about the rigors of being an artist, the discipline, the work. Outside of lessons, she took me backstage after concerts or the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, taking me under her wing to show me the people, politics, and yearnings in the world of classical music.
But the best thing I learned from Lili, which came through our many walks and conversations, was her extraordinary flight of the imagination in music. Her technique would take her only so far: it was the times when her imagination soared and the piano transformed into something magical that left her audiences inspired to great heights; it was those times, when she harnessed her grand technique and transformed it into something else, something that could not be described; it was the x-factor, the gestalt of artistry that captivated my interest and ultimately led me past technical descriptions to zeriosantalios, my theory of grace, beauty, meaning, and human communication.