RIP Richard Rephann, my teacher, friend, and mentor

photo credit: Harold Shapiro

Last night, I learned that Richard Rephann passed away yesterday morning. I studied harpsichord with Richard at Yale from 1995-1998. From 1998-2003, when I was a DMA candidate, Richard took on an advisory role.

Richard's wife, Susan Thompson, wrote to tell me the news, sending this photo, one that I had never seen before. In it, Richard and I were preparing a performance on matching Taskin epinettes. Susan wrote, "What a great picture!  Here you are blessed with the better of the two épinettes..."

In my response to Susan, I wrote, "I didn't already have a copy of the photo you sent. It's a really good one, and I look forward to hanging it in my office. That photo does such an excellent job of summarizing my admiration for Richard! I know that he and I shared a special relationship--and I am sure that many of his students felt that way, too. Not a practicing day goes by when I don't reflect on what he taught me, and I know that my playing will always be touched by his vision."

I continued, "That's not to say that, post-Yale, I have always found myself in agreement with his teaching, but it is to say that his teaching was foundational, creating a sounding board against which to set any and all of my interpretive ideas. I think that's exactly what a teacher should be for a student.

"But Richard was much more than that to me. Both he and you brought me up in my mid-20's at Yale, and then, post-Yale, you both were very supportive friends in that difficult time of "now what do I do with my life." Richard taught me to love a good martini (either gin or vodka), and he created my palate of post-concert steak and salad, excellent cheese, and, of course, extraordinary wine. He was a teacher in all things."

There's so much more I can say about Richard. He could be a complete grouch, and his reputation in that way is legendary. When he liked a student, however, he didn't stop giving, and I am grateful to have been liked by Richard. He was like a father to me, and I loved him for it.

Richard once said to me that, if one could have just one or two people in life to call friends, one was a lucky person. He then called me a friend. What a great gift!

Thank you, Richard. You were indeed a friend.

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