40 years of music

The Lehnert Solo/Duo plays a final concert at CU

Peter Alexander | Boulder Weekly


Oswald Lehnert is making plans.


After more than 40 years teaching violin at the CU College of Music and literally hundreds of concerts worldwide as half of the Lehnert Solo/Duo with his wife, pianist Doris Lehnert, Oswald will retire from the university at the end of the current year. But he intends to stay busy.

“I want to do a lot of things with our family,” Oswald Lehnert says. “And do some benefit concerts for the homeless shelter.”

“He wants to do things for children,” Doris adds. “He talks about that a lot.”

“I’m sure I’ll teach,” Oswald continues.

“People ask me now about lessons next year. And the Duo’s going to continue.”

In the meantime, there is a concert to rehearse — a celebration of Lehnert’s 42 years at the university. The concert, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Grusin Music Hall, will feature Lehnert with a number of his faculty colleagues.

The performance is part of the College of Music Faculty Tuesday series, which presents free performances by faculty most Tuesdays during the academic year.

“We wanted to involve faculty members that we’ve played with throughout the years,” Oswald says. And so the program covers “a variety of relationships and experiences.”

To open the concert, the Lehnerts will be joined by three other members of the music faculty for a performance of Schubert’s popular and tuneful “Trout”:

violist Erika Eckert, cellist Judith Glyde and double bassist Paul Erhard.

After intermission, Oswald will play a series of duo performances, starting with a Handel Passacaglia with his son, cellist Oswald Lehnert III. Next up is a pair of pieces with harpist Janet Harriman, and then two pieces by the Argentinean tango composer Astor Piazzolla with guitarist Jonathan Leatherwood.

“Doing something with the harp and doing something with the guitar is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Oswald says. Both are faculty colleagues whose playing he has admired, but with whom he has never had the chance to perform.

The grand finale and doubtless the highlight for fans will be the performance by the Lehnert Solo/ Duo. After 42 years in Boulder, they have become a much-loved fixture of the classical music scene. And while they have played on tour in Europe recently, this will be their first performance in Boulder in three years.

Oswald thought since it was his retirement concert, he should end with a big violin showpiece. He chose the “Carmen Fantasy,” a virtuoso tour through the most popular melodies from Bizet’s opera, in a version that was arranged for another violin legend, Jascha Heifetz. Of the many versions of the “Carmen Fantasy,” Oswald thinks it’s the best — and the hardest.

With so many different people to rehearse with, putting the concert together has been a complex task — new music to learn, teaching schedules to coordinate, rehearsal rooms to reserve — except, of course, for the “Carmen Fantasy.” For that familiar chestnut, Oswald and Doris just have to walk into their living room and get down to work.

That may sound easier than it really is.

When pressed, the Lehnerts admit that it’s not always smooth sailing, even after 52 years of working together. Like all chamber music groups, they sometimes have their differences.

“We fight like hell,” Oswald says. “It’s much better than it used to be,” Doris quickly adds. “We always fought, mostly [about] volume. He would always say, ‘You’re playing too loud,’ you know. It was mostly a power struggle.

“Once the concert happens, we play, and everything is just fine. Because we don’t even think about the fights when we’re performing.”

One thing Oswald Lehnert does not plan to do for his faculty farewell concert is his traditional jump off the stage to play an encore in the audience. For one thing, he now has an artificial hip, and that flourish — long a part of the Lehnerts’ performances — “just doesn’t work” any more, Doris says. For another, Oswald doesn’t think the audience will want an encore.

“The program is so long already that I think that they will be happy to get out of there,” he says.

Considering that Boulder audiences have happily returned to the Lehnert’s recitals for more than 40 years, that may not be a safe bet. There’s no sign yet that they have had their fill of the Lehnerts.

On the Bill

The Lehnert Solo/Duo with other music faculty play
Grusin Music Hall on the CU campus on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Show starts at
7:30 p.m. Free admission. Imig Music Building, Euclid Avenue and 13th
Street, 303-492-8008. For a complete schedule of Faculty Tuesdays,
visit http:// music.colorado.edu/events/ faculty-tuesdays

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