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Richard 's Story > Chapters > Residence in France-Round the World Tour
Date Range: 11/20/1973 To 01/20/1974
Around the World-Residence in Cannes France Fall 1973 (Richard Ozanne-Marsh)
During the fall of 1973 My parents Ozan Marsh and Patricia Benkman (Marsh)were doing the initial research on their book "The Pianists Spectrum" during my fathers sabbatical.
It was a long undertaking, and took in finality many years in preparation beyond this time. For the winter after the summer at Chautauqua we took residence in Cannes France at a wonderful apartment "La Farandole" in the vicinity of Cannes France Le Cannet.
We left from Buffalo arriving in Paris and then by plane to Nice in August that year. I was a mere 14 years old at the time of this world tour and selected to do home study for the first semester of school, arranged in advance. The arrangement was also to include private classes by private tutor during my absence from school.
Fall had not yet set in. The apartment was the possession of the former governor of Tahiti and was filled with artifacts as well as antiques and was equipped with a fine vintage piano that kept its tune and had been restored.
I was only 14 and had endeavored to be a young photographer at that time, keeping in the back of my pocket furthur studies in arts and music so as to keep the film running. This was a skill that I would work at for years to come. But this was also a time of change for me as I became extremely interested in art and painting although took piano lessons on a regular basis with my father.
Both my mother and father would constantly be absorbed in the making of the book, doing research taking notes of the numerous visits they made to the pianists they had known who were still living in Europe as well as practicing for upcoming performances. As a part of my school work I would take notes, make dictations and assume for some brief periods to be a secretary. Atune to my parents sense of focus this training would help me along the line in many ways, but I do admit a computer (for my purposes here) has been a great help-although difficult without spell-check has been difficult--really my spelling is better--)
During our residence in France and eventual tour througout Europe I remember meeting many very famous pianists as well as musicians who would greet my parents for enduring conversations or dinner during this extensive tour.
Madam Nadia Boulanger
Ms Gaby Casadesus Pianist
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
and many others were part of my parents research on pianism.
In London I came with them to the conservatory as well as to Paris, meeting people such as Gaby Casadesus and others. When we visited Leningrad and Moscow it grew intense with auditions. One of my duties was to transcribe my fathers notes on the typewriter. This was a valuable lesson as I remember the intensity with which my parents lived and worked as well as their vast range of knowledge that they were preparing at this time for future students of theirs. Along on this residence were invited three students of my parents, which were elected as some of the top of the list of talents from Chautauqua and Tucson which they were to show.
I had made arrangements for "home study" for 6 months from my school year in Arizona. During this time we were in France I was provided with a tutor in various subjects which I would study including Art, Culture and French.
My personal tutor, Mon. Blimmer as well as a Jean Gasson (attempting to remember the correct spelling of my tutor last name) had been a professor (teacher of Arts and English) in Paris in the 40’s and 50’s and was an exquisite purveyor of fine art from French history.
He was my tutor in French and European history, remembering his lessons well during our hour and a half lessons twice a week. His apartment was filled with fine antique paintings and vases. Blimmer was a collector of very expensive prints and memorabilia during his lifetime. Twice a week I would go for lessons. He was an insistant taskmaster from the old French school of memorization explaining 4 hours a day study should be ample as well as 5 page reports on everything from visits to museums to archeological study, nature, botany and earth science might be of help as with nightly readings from his library on loan of the works of Socrates, Plotonius, Spencer, Shakespere, Keats, Longfellow and as much reading as one child could be responsible for. Yes, Blimmer was a task master who insisted on memory work as well, recounting that he would call me in to recite verbetim several poems read allowed and presented. In all it was never quite good enough so it seemed, but then he would smile and quip: “He was bluffing...” (an American phrase)looking over his glasses in a wonderful French accent. In the end he let me off easy, with spot checks on what I had learned, sporting his finger forward in a jovial way about history, dates, names and funny jokes in French. He would sometimes joke with a sharp sardonicism.
It was not like school and this were private sessions that were in some ways remarkable.
Two weeks I would study and then was given a project and write a report. Blimmer seemed to have a new idea for every session. He was well connected in the community through his involvement in the arts as well as knew many people.
Only a week or so after arrival Mon. Blimmer sent me to Paris to see the Louvre, Orangerie and Montmarte as well as set a dynamic in place to visit some of his professional colleagues or who had friends and family-my age in southern France in the cities of Mougins, St. Raphael, Marseilles, and Nice for the experience. Blimmer was a stoic man and a well rounded intelligent fellow who seemed to have the old world French culture still thriving in his blood. "Take Riding Lessons" (he would arrange this...on the other end would be throughbread horses, where the riding lessons would be so demanding one would imagine ...especially with a young American boy they might be short lived when thrown from the horse in the rink!). I remember the rink, falling off a horse, and getting back on for a week, though not long enough to become expert. He would laugh, my boots and dress barrowed, too small! "Take Fencing!" Blimmer would command-arrange this-a couple of lessons and my interest waned. He insisted on a regime for me that was that of some academy and made the possibility pronounced that I could attend high school in France. The pictures of this academy seemed to be great, guilded and stern, but the price unaffordable to my parents. It was called Grand Ecole, (the name escaped me) but he was sure that this school would be a quantum leap in my education as well as having connections that could get me in. My parents were impressed but not sure that this would be generally accepted among peers of my own age.
I remember the day Blimmer said was special. He had been rather angry with me for not taking interest in more sports..Riding, Fencing..etc, being a few of his suggestions, but he knew I was taking piano lessons and had interest in art. "Now..." Blimmer had a large leather portfolio on his drawing room desk, "I want you to see some work of other young men...just your age!" he said unbuckling the large thick portfolio and bringing out some pieces that were carefully wrapped for inspection. Blimmer had a magnifying glass and handed it to me, joking with me on the occasion by holding the glass up to his eye to make it larger. The first work was an original drawing of Ingres. It was followed by another original all kept neatly for his collection. Blimmer said..."Study this.." and he handed me a 17th century print under glass to take home and "copy it". It was a Fragonard original..."He laughed"..you must have a collection up there too! (as he knew the owner of the residence we were living...and certainly there were many great pieces...originals which he remarked were, in the apartment where we stayed.
During this time during my residency in France I traveled to:
In November we moved on towards the round-the-world tour and more formal research for my parents visiting
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