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Robert Cohen: “That Is My Fixation, Really – The Sound. Every Moment of Our Playing Must Be Full of Life”


In this Talk with Nadège Rochat, renowned cellist Robert Cohen offers a comprehensive exploration of his musical journey, pedagogical philosophy, and innovative projects. Cohen’s early immersion in music, influenced by his parents, paved the way for a lifelong commitment to the cello. Guided by masterful teachers like William Pleeth, Cohen’s musical foundation is enriched by a unique blend of influences, including Pleeth’s poetic approach and his father’s emphasis on individual expression. Cohen’s teaching philosophy centers on freeing students from insecurities, fostering self-awareness, and addressing the holistic well-being crucial for confident stage presence.

Cohen’s approach to music-making is characterized by a deep connection to the human condition, emphasizing the reflection of emotions such as tragedy, elation, humor, and love. The interview delves into the rarity of Cohen’s spontaneous and “alive” performances, marked by an authentic connection with the present moment. His commitment to positive growth, fast learning, and acknowledging mistakes as opportunities for self-discovery permeates his teaching methodology.

The Talk also touches on the transformative power of music and the importance of personal connections with composers. Cohen advocates for genuine reactions to music, encouraging musicians to overcome conditioned perspectives and express their true selves. The conversation extends to vulnerability, humor, and risk-taking in music, elements Cohen believes are often missing in contemporary performances. In discussing his new initiative, SPHERES, Cohen envisions a holistic education program that intertwines Strings, Philosophy, Health, Environment, Recreation, Education, and Society, empowering young musicians to become impactful communicators and engage in broader societal dialogues. Cohen’s innovative project aligns with his belief in the timeless and transformative potential of music in shaping a better tomorrow.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music