Magazine Feature / People

Lichtmann to take a bow after 37 years

The one word that surfaces consistently from those who know Theodor (Ted) Lichtmann is “gentleman.”

LamontSchool of Music Director Joe Docksey calls Lichtmann, chair of the piano program at Lamont,  “a deep and profound thinker” who was a “major underpinning of the Lamont School of Music.”

Lichtmann will retire at the end of this school year — his final note on a 37-year teaching career at the University of Denver.

“People should know simply that he’s truly a gentleman and a cultured person who is well versed in the literature, theater, and he’s a voracious reader,” says Lamont strings Chair Richard Slavich, who has known Lichtmann for 29 years. “He loves good food and good wine and knows a lot about both.”

“We’ll miss his collegiality and his very presence,” Docksey says.

Lichtmann grew up in Switzerland where, “I heard music at home from babyhood on,” he says.

His father was a renowned opera singer who performed throughout Europe, and Ted tagged along and earned an early and potent education in music.

He started studying piano when he was 5, and by 15, he was appearing professionally as a collaborative pianist.

“He’s one of the best sight readers I’ve ever known,” Slavich says. “He can pick up basically anything and play it instantly.”

“He also has a great sense of humor,” Slavich says, “and I think there’s a little inner mischief maker in there. But mostly he’s been a very fine teacher.”

Martha Fiser, a former student of Lichtmann’s, recalls his patience and soft-spoken demeanor.

“He could analyze a piece of music down to the smallest component — he’s a master of the subtleties that make music music,” Fiser says.

“Music means everything to me, although I am basically a nosy person,” Lichtmann says. “I like to stick my nose into many different things — art, literature, photography, architecture and theater.”

When he walks away from DU, Lichtmann will continue to be a musician and teach in his private studio, he says.

“Musicians cannot really retire,” he says.

Lichtmann says he’ll miss all the students “for teaching me to be a better human being,” and all his colleagues “for bearing with me and my foibles.”

“Without you it couldn’t be the same — you all shaped my experience here.”

This article originally appeared in The Source, March 2007.

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