Elizabeth Hand Wadhams, a Brearley and Smith College alumna on leave from service in the Women’s Army Corps and on a brief visit to her family’s summer home in Elizabethtown, greeted the renowned cellist Gregor Piatigorsky on Water Street.
“How are you, Mr. Piatigorsky?” she asked.
“There are always clouds hanging above Piatigorsky,” he replied.
It is not difficult to see why Piatigorsky might have felt that way. He found his way to the Adirondacks and the Essex County village of Elizabethtown only after “fleeing pogroms, the Russian Revolution and the Nazi Holocaust,” as his biographer, Margaret Bartley, writes.
But for the ten years that he and his family lived in Essex County in the 1940s, the Adirondacks were “a sanctuary,” Bartley writes.
On June 17, Piatigorsky’s grandson, cellist Evan Drachman, will present “In the Footsteps of Piatigorsky” at The Sembrich at 2 pm.
Presented in partnership with The Hyde Collection, “In the Footsteps of Piatigorsky” will explore the Adirondack experience of the famed cellist through stories and music. Among other things, he will explain how Piatigorsky came to Elizabethtown, and what he made of the community and its residents.
Joined by pianist Michael Clement, Drachman will present pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein, among other works of significance to Piatigorsky.
The event is free to members of The Sembrich. Tickets for non-members are $35.
Evan Drachman, whose mother, Jephta Piatigorsky Drachman, was one of Piatigorsky’s two children, performs with a variety of groups in venues throughout the United States and Europe. As Artistic Director of The Piatigorsky Foundation, he has become an acknowledged authority on the presentation of live classical music to diverse audiences.
According to Jephta Piatigorsky Drachman, “Piatigorsky taught and inspired dozens of fine cellists to become artists,” and among the places where he taught those cellists was the Meadowmount School for Strings in the Town of Lewis, just north of Elizabethtown.
According to the wife of Meadowmount’s founder Ivan Galamian, it was Piatigorsky who recommended Essex County when the famous violin teacher was searching for a location to establish a school for strings.
In 1944, the Galamians acted upon Piatigorsky’s recommendation and purchased the former estate of the family of suffragist Inez Milholland, at the foot of the mountain that has been renamed in her honor.
Every summer since then, young string players from all over the world come for a seven-week term. Concerts open to the public are presented regularly. For information, visit meadowmount.org.
For information and tickets for “In the Footsteps of Piatigorsky” at The Sembrich on June 17, visit thesembrich.org.