91 years old, sharp as a tack.
A good instrument will always respond when pushed – it gives whatever you ask, with capacity to spare for still more intensity, more beauty, more despair, more guts, more joy more sorrow, more pity, more more … MORE!. The limit is only in the player’s imagination.
As Ed thought, it’s not about age, but chemistry, awareness, patience, …humour. He championed excellence in any form, without pandering to pedigree or economics. He could be enthralled by the dedication with which a 4-year-old tied her shoelaces, inversely as bored by a player who would not accept the challenge to imagine himself as brilliant, and work to make it so. He loved it – crowed with laughter – when I forgot my music but played well anyway.
There were many of us who became like his instruments, and gave what he asked, and in so doing found our own true depth. I never found the limit to his imagination, was always forgiven for not seeing the possibilities as quickly as he did, and managed to push back enough to teach him a few things in return. It was never easy by any stretch, to know Ed, but by god I respected him. I’ve never worked harder for anyone.
The same day he passed he was read this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jan/02/how-many-notes-violinist-stradivarius
His son Paul (who read it aloud) said that Ed’s face was transformed into a sunrise:
He had a deep understanding of human nature, of the idea that our vulnerabilities are potentially our greatest strengths if they can be acknowledged early & with good support, challenged properly (and without cease), ignited at the right time so the slow burn never ever dies, no matter what.
Edouard Bartlett died without fuss on Saturday January 21, 2011. He was, and always will be, the dragon I love.
Here’s a wonderful audio tribute to Ed by another of his students, Steve Ritchie. It’s worth a listen.