The French Teacher


Germaine Lorenzini

Lauded in Europe, this uniquely French teacher gives the rest of the world a rare glimpse into her life.

(Read the interview in Lorenzini’s native French here.)

Germaine Lorenzini’s resume reads as you would expect a world-class harpist’s would. She is the honorary harpist of the National Orchestra of Lyon and an active soloist and chamber musician throughout France. She studied with Lily Laskine and then Jacqueline Borot at the Paris Conservatory. She has won prizes at the harp’s top international competitions, including Israel, Geneva, and Tournier.

But it is with her teaching that Lorenzini leaves her most indelible mark. Her students are widely considered to be some of the best harpists in the world, and she is highly sought after as a juror for international competitions. 

For those American harpists lucky enough to have experienced, first-hand, a lesson or masterclass with Lorenzini that stretches the better part of the day, you understand her way. For those who haven’t, this conversation with Lorenzini will give you an idea of why students from all over the world trek to her house in Lyon to study with her.

Harp Column: You’ve taught many excellent harpists over the years. Is there a common characteristic you can point to in the best musicians you have taught?
Germaine Lorenzini: Yes. Strong personality. Very different personalities, of course, but all my best students have powerful ones. This is so important: many people can understand, or learn to understand music, but without personality all you are doing is plucking the correct strings. It is the dialogue between the text laid down by the composer and the artist’s individual character that makes a performance special.
It’s the role of the professor to recognize and bring out the student’s character—not impose on them who or how they should be, but perceive and respect them for who they really are. If you are working with somebody who is very young, of course, you have to go looking for the character, a bit. It is your job as a teacher to find it. It is one of the things I love most about teaching.

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