Remembering the French Harp Pedagogue

—by Isabelle Moretti

I don’t know how I am going to talk about Germaine! How can you write a eulogy about somebody so alive? I can already hear her laughing!

She had a full laugh—in-your-face, generous; it was a smoker’s laugh, a bon vivant’s! She had the laugh of someone who never took herself too seriously, but who always took others seriously. I can see her amused eyes, quietly ironic, never dishonest. I can hear her voice and her accent “with a hint of garlic,” when she allowed herself to return to her Marseille roots!

I know better than anyone that Germaine possessed the very rare ability to love unconditionally. She was always surprised by any sign of gratitude towards her. Yes, that’s it. She was surprised that she could be loved so much! So, here is an homage!

I am not going to speak about “Germaine the professor,” as others will do that very well. And Germaine was much more than a teacher. She liked to take care of people. She wanted to help other people find or re-find their path to happiness, behind the instrument she loved so much. She did all this with an immense respect for music, the text and the composer.

She who had, fundamentally, a unique blend of a sound, incredible facility, and an entirely natural stage presence, was never content to say “do as I do, and that will work.” I know that people already talk of “the Lorenzini technique,” but Germaine was not interested in creating this in order to go down in history—no! Her ego was not voracious enough! She spent all these years, tirelessly and in the closest detail, searching for how to stretch out the harp’s “wretched ropes” without tyrannizing the body, in order to best use this magic weight, vital to the development of a beautiful sound! Her entire life was spent at the service of the harp, and of music. It was a life spent seeking to understand, to explore, and to constantly analyze the body in its entirety, all with one single aim: to help. To help those who came to see her—sometimes completely blocked—to try and rediscover the meaning of the harp for them, and their joy in it.

As for me, what can I say…I have been unusually lucky in having such a human mentor. Germaine was certainly human, with all the paradoxes that means! Above all, I have lost my spiritual mother, my friend, and my confidant. Through Germaine, I learned much more than the harp, much more even than music. I learned about painting, ancient civilizations, how to cook, the art of being at the dinner table, and how to express oneself well. Of course, my sorrow is immense. But as Germaine would say, “For goodness’ sake! Dammit! Life is for living!”

Despite all her health problems, Germaine loved life to the fullest. She has also left me this: the unshakable confidence she had in me and the love of life. She is no longer there, in Lyon, but she is even more present day-to-day. To help me, and to help everyone who seeks joy in their life, the time has come to set aside “these morbid things,” as she called them. She liked to quote her grandmother, who said about those who take themselves too seriously, “The cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people!”  This is true, and fits well with her great, too great humility. For once, Germaine, I will contradict you! For me, you are irreplaceable! And this is how it should be. La vie est belle.

Editor’s note: read our feature interview with Germaine Lorenzini in the March-April 2014 issue of Harp Column


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