Friday, December 4, 2009

Tsilya Nissman

Portrait bust of Tsilya Nissman

Tsilya Nisman was our daughter, Jenny's piano teacher. She came to Hamilton from the former Soviet Union. A gifted teacher, she imparted not only the necessity of discipline but also the habit of really listening. Listening, listening and listening. She taught at the Suzuki School of Music, here in Hamilton. The Suzuki approach required a fair degree of involvment from the parents. The principle idea that music is a mother tongue, comes from the Japanese violinist Suzuki, not the motorcycle manufacturer.

Tsylia Nissman was a very gifted pianist herself. Sometimes she would play for us – one of Chopin’s Nocturnes or an Etude. I discovered that Chopin was a close friend of Delacroix. It was exciting to discover that the relationship and interaction between music and painting, poetry and literature was close. And then also how the influence of philosophers like Nietsche, Schopenouer, Bergson and others entered into it. All the arts were inter related.


  1. Oh, I love this one! You really captured her listening! I can nearly hear the piano music!

  2. Marcia, your sculptures are wonderful, very sensitively made. it would be great to see and read about a piece in progress if possible. r.

  3. Thank you for sharing the story of this beautiful woman. The work is spectacular! Her intelligence is clear in your sculpture.

  4. Thank you Liza,
    Thank you, thank you!
    Tsilya would probably be very moved by your remarks. She did put her heart and soul into her teaching.
    By the way I just saw your comment on the previous post and I want to assure you that I wouldn’t expect you or anyone for that matter to comment on a day to day basis – that would be a grind and crazy making - especially for you since you are a dedicated daily painter and a magnifico one! and you need all your time and energy for your work!!
    Be well, Marcia

  5. Hi Rahina,

    Right now I am drawing and fooling around with some tubes of paint and taking stock of older work.
    I plan to get started in the near future on a couple of things including a portrait of my husband. When I do, I will be glad to document this process at different stages and then discuss or answer questions you might have.

    I have been meaning to tell you that I like your portrait work very, very much and would have sought you out to tell you that but you got to me first which means therefore that you beat me to the draw!

    Take care,

  6. Hi Melinda

    I wish I could believe that I really did her justice.
    I think her beauty partly comes from pain - a cliché I know, but she had a rough time in the former soviet union. For one thing she would have loved to study voice but the system there dictated that she was to be a piano teacher.

    That’s how they sized her up. If they were going to spend money on training her they wanted to know exactly what they would get for their money. A friend of mine once joked that the soviets produced very good mathematicians, chess players and pianists. They took their investments in national culture products seriously. No mistakes.
    Then her oldest daughter, at age eighteen, a piano student got sick and died. Tsilya had to jump through hoops to get treatment for her. She also had to put significant sums of money up front but under the table. There were countless indignities to endure. And then in the end nothing worked. After that tragedy she and her husband decided to leave, they didn’t want to raise their remaining daughter there – it took another two years of constant wrangling to obtain the necessary documents.

    As a teacher she had infinite patience and I do mean infinite – even the most resistant or not so musical child would come out playing well. Her musical intelligence was deep and she transmitted determination. She is still teaching and I might give her a call.

    Melinda, I think you’re a spectacular artist! And it’s wonderful to get to know you. Your Grand Canyon Suite is a truly amazing project!

  7. What a deeply moving story. Thank you for sharing a bit of her life with us and for honoring her beauty and strength of character. I do hope you get in touch with her. There are some people who are so valuable that no lapse of time can lessen their importance or diminish the joy of spending a few moments with them again.

    You're very generous!

  8. Hi Melinda,
    You're absolutely right about that.
    There are those special people in our lives who we don't see for a long long time, and then when our paths cross again, it's possible to pick up the thread right where it was left off as though no time had elapsed.
    That's the amazing thing about continuity between friends. I've experienced that and so have you obviously or you wouldn't have mentioned it.
    Well I will call her. thanks for reminding me!! You are very special for that!

    Take care,

  9. Hi Marcia,

    My dear friend, what a beautiful piece this is. You have done quite a bit of blogging while I've been off in Florence. That sounds so lofty but when you are there, you feel as high as the pigeons who fly, and as ordinary and beautiful as the very plentiful birds. This, like all of your work is magnificent.

    Missed you and your long dissertations. Do I detect a PhD. in the works? This secret writer
    does incredible work, and you should be either writing a book, or doing some other massive work
    to get rewarded for your considerable talent.

    How was Florence? I feel like a love sick teenager. Coming back has been like being punched in the stomach, and we have head colds that would make Canadians want us wrapped in plastic, while the Italians were kissing our cheeks without a care.

    Love your work.

  10. Thank you so much, Barbara, for your unfailing encouragement. I think I do have some inkling of ideas to work on.
    I can imagine how you must have felt come home from Europe. And having colds on top of it, especially this time of year and feeling that you have to jump right into things the moment you get back - a hard transition, to say the least. I had a sinus infection a few weeks ago and it took an antibiotic to get rid of it – plus some bed rest.
    But I can’t imagine anyone more naturally resilient and buoyant than yourself! And what you soaked up in Florence, I’m sure will work its way into your work.
    Xxxoxoxoxo Marcia