Happiest Unplanned Moment of My Life and Mischa Kottler. For some 17 years I studied piano with a great master, Mischa Kottler. He prepared me, as a pianist, to play for heads of state from around the world as well as Presidents of the United States. Among his students were counted; Ruth Loredo, Cynthia Raim and Seymour Lipkin. One of his students was Greg Phillinganes. From work with Stevie Wonder while still in his teens, to tours and recordings with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, and Toto; Phillinganes’ massive discography reads like a “Who’s Who” of pop music, encompassing four decades. Mischa defied time. At age 93 he paid us a surprise visit in Sarasota home. There he played Chopin’s Minute Waltz. So what, you ask? He played it with double notes in the right hand. Instead of single notes he played 3rds, 4th, and 5th in with one hand. The tempo of its fast pace was never lost. Fortunately, this feat can be witnessed on youtube. Single notes at that speed a difficult enough, Alfred Cortot, his teacher also plays it but with single notes. Many students feel the compulsion to outdo their teachers. Mischa did.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine and his Quote of Mischa Kottler
“Sensing that I needed discipline more than anything else, my Mom managed to hook me up with a wonderful teacher named Mischa Kottler. He was a no-nonsense Russian Jewish guy who could crack a pane of glass with one finger. He was a complete badass, and he cooled my attitude out immediately. I studied with him well into my teens.
Happiest Moment Comes With an Unplanned Visit by Mischa
In 1993 I get a phone call. In context, I had no contact with Mischa for some 16 years. I thought he was no longer with us. The voice on the phone said: “David, this is your piano teacher, Mischa Kottler.” I was sure it was a joke. The heavy Russian accent went on to say: “I hear you have more children than I know piano concertos.” At that moment I nearly collasped. It was him. I recognized his dry humor. Guess what? He visited our home and gave me piano lessons “in exchange” for hospitality. Naturally, he would have been most welcome even without the piano lessons.
My advise to children. Learn to play the piano. It will allow you to someday talk about the happiest moments of your life. We are about to enter an era where beautiful is once more in vogue. Beautiful piano playing will lead the way. I still have a couple openings for piano lessons in Sarasota. Also, I am about to begin my 8th year playing a wonderfully reconditioned Steinway Concert Grand at the famed Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. It probably has the sweetest sound of any piano anywhere. See you there December 20th-April 14. I play 6 nights a week. And yes, Mischa stays with me, in my heart.