—by Myriam Serfass

Marielle Nordmann, a French grande dame of the harp in her own right, has spent her career building A Laskine Legacy

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There is no question Marielle Nordmann is one of the grand dames of the harp—a living legend whose musical reputation is unsurpassed. Her many recordings have served as a masterclass in how to craft sound and musical nuance. For years she led the Nordmann trio with flutist André Guilbert and cellist Renaud Fontanarosa. Her international solo career took her all over the world. But to understand Marielle Nordmann’s music, you must first understand the strongest influence in her life—her teacher, Lily Laskine. Nordmann studied with Laskine at the Paris Conservatory, where Nordmann won the premiér prix in 1958. Her relationship with Laskine remained close until Laskine’s death in 1988. In 1995, Nordmann created the Lily Laskine Competition in memory of her teacher and mentor.

Myriam Serfass sat down with Nordmann to talk about her storied career in music and her relationship with the great Lily Laskine.

Harp Column: Tell us about your studies with Lily Laskine and your relationship with her.

Marielle Nordmann: To study with Lily Laskine was to be in permanent contact with all the exceptional qualities of this very great personality: her intelligence, kindness, humor, wittiness, calm, patience, and psychology. Over time, what was created between this great lady and I was a relationship of tenderness on her part, and devotion and then love on my part. It was more a relationship of disciple to master than of student to professor, so much her teaching took part through how she lived her life. Her insatiable curiosity for all things was matched only by her great openness. Her credo for the life of a musician was this: “Do everything life offers you—from the most insignificant things to the most important things. You will be enriched by all the different personalities you will encounter in all these situations.” She performed very often for humanitarian or charitable organizations, being a good example to her students. She was as comfortable in a symphony orchestra as in a variety orchestra playing French pop songs where she particularly liked to accompany the great French singers after the War—Yves Montand, Jacques Brel, Michel Sardou, Edith Piaf, etc.

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