Some people are born teachers, some become great through experience, and some become famous through their students. The renowned violin teacher Dorothy DeLay fits all three categories. She discovered her innate talent and love for teaching early in life, inspired by the great pedagogue Ivan Galamian
, but her long association with him, first as his student, then as his assistant at the Juilliard School, ended in an acrimonious parting of ways. She then developed her own class of students at Juilliard and other prestigious conservatories, and soon acquired a worldwide reputation as unrivalled producer of prodigies and virtuosos. One of her first star pupils was Itzhak Perlman
; it might be said that they made each other famous. The music world has long speculated about what sets DeLay and her teaching apart, and in this book, 10 years in the making, Barbara Sand tries to find some answers. She observed DeLay in action and interaction with her pupils at Juilliard, the Aspen summer school, and at home, and talked extensively with DeLay and her husband of almost 60 years, Edward Newhouse. Sand interviewed her assistants, her students past and present, and the conductors and managers who engage them. What emerges is a portrait of a woman whose inexhaustible energy, determination, inquiring intellect, and single-minded commitment to her work and her students give her a larger-than-life quality. This is a personal profile, not a description of a teaching method. Indeed, DeLay claims she has none, though it seems clear that she is guided by Galamian's technical principles. However, she rejects his well-known authoritarianism, responding to her pupils' individual needs and tempering stringent demands with generous encouragement and support. What makes her approach unique is her deep involvement in her students' lives, from choosing their wardrobes to remaining available to them as adviser and confidante long after they leave her studio. Even more remarkable is her ability to launch them into the concert world. Their gratitude and devotion are unstintingly expressed by Sand's carefully selected interviewees, as is her own wholehearted admiration. The book is a hymn of praise.