Preparations for the André Tchaikowsky Symposium at Leeds College is well underway. The day’s programme has been typed and proofread. I have met with Sebastian Müller and Alfia Nakipbekova for a rehearsal of the Trio Notturno. The Piano Sonata (1958) is kept on the go.
As Clare has a personal connection to André Tchaikowsky, I decided to interview her as this was one of the reasons of her agreeing to taking part in the project. However, as Clare was only a little girl when André was in her family home she shared an email her mother had sent to help put together the pieces of the jigsaw:
“We don’t think [Clare] will have any strong memories of André, as he didn’t usually appear until after [she] had gone to school because he always meditated first thing in the morning! I think this was how he coped with anxieties from the war years. [Clare was] only 4 when he first came and so [she] would only have seen him briefly at teatime, and I don’t think [she] would have gone to any of his rehearsals… I think one of the reasons we all became such friends was that he was [Clare’s] Dad’s very first artist in Oct. 1971 and his agent was worried about him staying with a family who had small children and animals! He arrived on our doorstep, where I think [Clare] greeted him because I was getting tea, and when I got to the door he held out a big bottle of whisky under his arm and announced “I’ve brought this because my agent says I’m difficult”!!
He never was difficult with us – only charming and very interesting – and he stayed with us on the 3 or 4 subsequent occasions he played in Lancaster, becoming a really valued musical friend. In the l980s, when the University sector suffered it’s first financial difficulties, André was the only musician who offered to give a recital for expenses only – and I think that was at the time that he had cut his own performing down to only 6 months of the year so that he could concentrate on
Clare continues: I do remember him being very twinkly and talking constantly – I think he loved to philosophise and just chew on ideas – my impression was that my parents often couldn’t get him to go to bed, or only just got him onto his train in time because of some conversation they were having, but whether this is actual memory or an impression formed by subsequent conversations with my parents, I can’t quite tell.