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In 1975, an important expansion of the seminars took place. A second course (which came to be scheduled for three weeks in September) was added to the Easter master classes, and called Open Chamber Music. Végh remembered as a 17-year-old being spontaneously recruited by Kreisler to join him at an after-concert party in playing Schubert’s A minor string quartet. So when in 1974 he visited Rudolf Serkin’s Marlboro summer music festival in Vermont, which was built around the idea of young musicians playing with established artists, he was readily convinced of the value of this combination as an educational method. It provided another means by which senior musicians could pass on the best of the old traditions, however with this important difference from the master classes — that within each chamber group every participant was (at any rate in theory) to have an equal voice in arguing how the piece should be performed. The chemistry between those students who had excelled at the Easter master classes, like Steven Isserlis, and their celebrated maestri proved highly productive. Musicians who had neither taught nor learned at the seminars could also be invited (some of whom — like Schiff — in due course became professors).

Thus, by the end of the 1970s, the essential pattern of the biannual seminars at IMS Prussia Cove was set. It has required very little by way of adjustment in the forty years since, because it produces such satisfying music-making. Its model and spirit have been copied in many other festivals, often founded by IMS Prussia Cove alumni, such as Alfred Brendel's cellist son Adrian’s festival at Plush in Dorset. Végh himself carried on teaching at the seminars for 20 years, though towards the end he was no longer able to play (he had developed a successful second career as a conductor). Shortly before his death in 1997, he passed on the baton of artistic direction to Isserlis, whose own exceptional musicianship, inspiring personality and vivid teaching method reflect the principles, if not the style, of his mentor.

Isserlis has been instrumental in introducing new faces among both teachers and other participants, but always in the context of an overriding respect for the founding aesthetic inculcated by Végh. There has from the start been a strong Hungarian influence, no more keenly felt than in the totemic presence over many years of Ferenc Rados. This Hungarian pianist, unknown in England except to a circle of devotees, is among the most rigorous and enigmatic of pedagogues (he taught the young Schiff and Zoltán Kocsis in Budapest) and stories of his gnomic, caustically humorous style of teaching abound. Like Végh before him, he is scathing of mere “performances” and of “interesting” playing, because these entail that the student is not attending sufficiently to what the music calls for, but is putting into the foreground his own personality or facility. Some pupils understand better than others epigrams such as “Scales are ornamentations upon harmonies” or “There is no democracy among the notes”, but those who do bear the benevolent hallmark of having been “Rados’d” for evermore. After all, if a listener leaves a concert thinking only that he has heard beautiful playing, something has gone awry; it is the music that should be vibrating in the memory.

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