Mr. Kassebeer

Tell us about a person who has affected your life in a significant way.


I only have to close my eyes to see this picture before me: A tall, old man standing in the middle of a semicircle of tired faces, grandiosely waving his endless arms as though he were swimming through the music. At five o'clock Friday afternoon, when the rest of us are exhausted by a long week of arduous learning, Udo Kassebeer is at his lovable best. The sun opposite me shines on the violins and cellos and silhouettes his aristocratic nose, shaggy brows and frizzy hair against the window pane and the afternoon sky.

"Sing through your instruments!" he says. Then he stomps and wiggles, bellows and whispers, puts his fingers to his chin as if in prayer and opens his blue eyes so wide they seem to leap out directly into mine, to discover that mine are closed. I am nodding asleep to the march of rhythms. But not for long. He goes through every conceivable contortion and exertion to energize our thirty sleepy faces. It is as if his wild gestures could conduct electricity as well as music through the drowsy air into the sounds of our instruments.

Every once in a while he shouts to us: "Sit straight, shoulders to the back. You look twice as beautiful this way!" Then he reverts to Prussian discipline: "If...

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