Alan Fraser was born and raised in Montreal, where his early piano training was unremarkable. In 1972 he enrolled in piano performance at McGill University, but switched into Theory when he couldn’t find a teacher who could reveal to him that ineffable quality that allowed the great pianists of the past to play with such poetry, such individuality. Horowitz remained the living example – a completely unique touch and posture, and sonorities such as no other pianist produced. Hearing Horowitz live in concert (Montreal 1975, Toronto 1979, Boston 1981 & ‘86) confirmed that there was a direct connection between movement and sound. Fraser first explored this connection by taking up Tai Chi, which he still practices today, in 1979.
Phil Cohen, assistant to Yvonne Hubert, herself a protégé of Alfred Cortot, was the teacher who would open the world of deeper virtuosity to Fraser. After three years with Cohen protégés Alan Belkin and Lauretta Milkman, Fraser began studies with Cohen in 1980, completing the Diploma in Advanced Music Performance Studies at Concordia University in 1984. Cohen then went on sabbatical, sending Fraser back to McGill for his Master’s Degree in Piano Performance under the newly arrived Tom Plaunt (1987).
In 1988 he entered a Feldenkrais Professional Training with the express purpose of developing a new approach to piano technique. Cohen’s influence had showed him how intimately musical inflection was linked to physical gesture; Plaunt’s influence showed him the benefits and limitations of weight technique. It seemed that a greater symbiosis of these different approaches was possible. Perhaps a deeper understanding of human movement per se could catalyze the growth of a new approach.
At this point synchronicity stepped in. Two weeks before the start of his Feldenkrais training, Fraser heard Kemal Gekić play at the Montreal International Piano Competition. Here was concrete proof that a pianist’s physical organization had a great deal to do with the musical result. Gekić’s posture was unusual, the movements of his hands on key quite individual and in stark contrast to what we habitually see (the critics described it as “Horowitzian”), and the musical results were stunning. Fraser decided to move to Yugoslavia in 1990 to study with Gekić, seven years his junior.
At the Art Academy of Novi Sad, Fraser soon became Gekić’s assistant. He was using the sophistication of Cohen and his growing expertise in the Feldenkrais Method to analyze what Gekić was doing and develop ways to teach these physical and musical strategies. At this time he also worked with Gekić to establish the technical foundation which had eluded him in his early training.
After a year in Wuhan, China (1999-2000), Fraser returned to Serbia to teach and begin publishing Natural, Artistic Piano Playing, his ongoing series of books on piano technique.
He has presented at numerous international music conferences and written numerous journal articles, and established the Alan Fraser Piano Institute in 2011 at venues in Europe and North America. He continues to perform as well, traveling from his home base in Belgrade, Serbia. For another version of Alan's biography, please visit:
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