Death of a dedicated US pianist, 98

Death of a dedicated US pianist, 98


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2017

We have been informed of the death in Massachusetts of Raymond Hanson, three weeks after his 98th birthday.

Raymond studied piano with Harold Bauer at the Hartt School of Music in 1946 and taught there until his retirement in 1992, though he continued teaching privately until this year.

His wife Anne Koscielny died two years ago.

There’s a fascinating John Mortensen interview with him here.


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    May I start by saying that Ray was like a father to so many, loved his Anne very deeply and profoundly and supported her to play all 32 sonatas by Beethoven. He adored her, and and encouraged her to be the consummate musician she was. And he did this with everyone who came into his midst. I shall never forget the times we spent together at their home for the Hartford Piano Society, where I performed recitals on their beloved series. Then there was the one time, after one of those recitals, while I was still a single young man, and Ray invited me to stay a night at their farm in Massachusetts. The town had a brisk nip in the air, was quaint, and the farm house had no television or outside distraction. I played some Beethoven and other pieces for Ray. he decided to coach me some, bringing out the natural singing sound, the most natural way to utilize the instrument, in a most positive way bringing out the best he could of the best of me. he knew and respected my teacher, Adele Marcus, and basically came from the same school of fabulous playing and tutelage. He played several Songs Without Words by Mendelssohn, so effortlessly, so beautifully, the sound remains within me still. He gave us all the inspiration, and encouragement to follow our dreams, and to make music the cornerstone of our lives–and most important, that it was never about us, but about the music. May his spirit forever embrace all of us whose lives he touched in the purest and most beautiful way. I share special thanks to one of his former students, Jason Solomonides, who shared Ray’s life of recent years. I shall always remember the very endearing phone conversation with Ray last year, so lucid and vibrant in his manner. A wonderful man–a lasting legacy.

  • Noretta Conci-Leech says:


    Noretta and John

  • Jason Solomonides says:

    My piano coach and mentor, Professor Raymond Hanson, was Chairman of Piano at the Hartt College of Music for over 40 years. When Mr. Hanson passed away this past Thursday, I felt like I had lost my dad all over again. For pianists worldwide, Mr. Hanson was one of the last living connections to the era of Harold Bauer, Theodor Hermann Leschetizky, Sergei Tarnowsky and Walter Knaupfer – musically speaking a clear link to the beginning and middle 19th century.

    Mr. Hanson had a fatherly impact on me both musically and spiritually. He was an exceptional human being, musician, teacher, mentor and a man of God. He walked the walk, and I was blessed to study with him from the age of 11, until this very day at the age of 53. What a legacy! His integrity, calming and sage voice, comparative parables, joke telling and incomparable playing continue to live on in my ears as well as his many loving students, and I have found that much of what he taught me applied to both my piano performances and engineering leadership roles. I will miss our phone calls, visits to the Farm and his guidance greatly, but I am strengthened to know he is now with His Creator, where Music all began.

    The Colors of Sound – The Piano Artistry of Raymond Hanson

    Some memorable pedagogical imagery from my years of lessons with Mr. Hanson:
    “Playing legato is like smoothly spreading peanut butter on a piece of toast”
    “Playing pianissimo is like a single snowflake falling on freshly fallen snow”
    – Raymond Hanson

    This, shared at a time when the news was heavy and sad, spoken in all positivity:
    “I don’t think about what I’ve lost; I think about what I’ve had. Celebrate!”
    – Raymond Hanson

  • Charles Timbrell says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of Ray’s death. He and Anne were good friends of mine here in DC, so bright and quick and wise, and without pretenses. And how they both could play!

  • Bonnie Barrett says:

    Ray was so in love with Anne and proud of everything she did, particularly the complete Beethoven sonatas. Ray and Anne often seemed like high school sweethearts together. He was a real poet at the piano and had a loyal following of students over the many years he was at Hartt. He brought out the best in his students and his playing was always inspiring to us. RIP Professor Hanson, now you are together again with your beloved Anne.

  • John Mortensen says:

    It was a great blessing to study with Anne (officially) and Ray (unofficially) through graduate school and beyond. Their generosity toward young musicians is justly legendary. I visited them a few times at their wonderful Massachusetts “estate”; I recall walking the forest pathways with Anne, advanced in age but brimming with energy, as she would grab the branches that fell onto the path and hurl them mightily off into the woods.

    Ray never wanted to start right in with the piano at a lesson, but rather drink tea, listen to a recording, or even read something together. He was magnificently inefficient. This was his philosophy: how you live, how you pace yourself, what you value — all will show up in your music.

    In his final years he would often call me on the phone to tell me a joke, and ask for one in return, and mention how much he missed Anne.

    Ray and Anne, beloved professors: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Frank Argento says:

    I often think of Mr Hanson. It’s impossible to say how grateful I am to have had him as my teacher and friend.