the idiotplayers podcast 03: Elan Sicroff (part 1)

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

We welcome pianist Elan Sicroff to the idiotplayers podcast episode 03 to discuss the work of composer Thomas de Hartmann. De Hartmann was the man who worked intensively with George Gurdjieff to bring the music of the transformational dance form known as the Gurdjieff Movements into existence. In addition, he orchestrated and wrote piano music for many hundreds of pieces of sacred music that Gurdjieff had collected as mental impressions during his years of seeking and travel. Less well known is that de Hartmann was highly regarded by several key artists of the 20th century including Pablo Casals and Wassily Kandinsky as an important composer in his own right. It is this aspect of de Hartmann’s work that Sicroff has come to focus on. Like de Hartmann, Sicroff is a seeker and a gifted musician. Through his recordings and concerts around the world, Elan welcomes the listener into de Hartmann’s repertoire with feeling and great insight. This is part one of the conversation recorded on Saturday, July 23, 2011 and being published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

Elan Sicroff is internationally known for his interpretation of the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music. He was trained at the Juilliard School by Jeaneane Dowis, protégé of the great Rosina Lhevinne. He attended the International Academy for Continuous Education of Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England, a ‘Fourth Way’ School directed by John Godolphin Bennett, a leading exponent of Gurdjieff ’s teaching. Initially Elan was a student, and later became its Director of Music. From 1975-79, he received personal instruction in the interpretation of this music from Mme de Hartmann, widow of the composer, to whom he had been introduced by Mr. Bennett. Since then he has given numerous recitals of this music in the USA and Europe. In January 2009 he toured Italy, England and Malta. Elan has produced 3 cds, Journey to Inaccessible Places (1985, produced by Robert Fripp) and Sicroff Plays Gurdjieff (2002). His new cd, Laudamus… was released in June 2010. In 2010 he returned to Europe for recitals in Italy and England, including a performance at the prestigious St.John’s, Smith Square in London.  Laudamus… features the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music alongside of the early Romantic pieces de Hartmann composed at the age of 16. Presently he is preparing to tour Ireland, Prague, and Madrid in April, 2011 and to record the classical output of de Hartmann in Amsterdam. This will include a recording of the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 51, a major Romantic work with elements of modernism and Eastern influence.

Show Pointers
The Thomas de Hartmann Papers at the Yale University Library, Thomas de Hartmann:  A Composer’s Life by John Mangan, Pablo Casals, Blau Reiter Groupe (The Blue Rider Group), Wassily Kandinsky, The Yellow Sound, Romantic music, Dane Rudhyar, see reference to “stepping on their corns“, JG Bennett, Madame Olga de Hartmann,  Violin Sonata Opus 51 by Thomas de Hartmann (excerpt), see references to Claymont School for Continuous Education, The Gurdjieff Foundation, Seeing light: Bb octave with an A at the top, for an excellent presentation of Gurdjieff’s teaching on humans as three-brained beings see Chapter 3 of JG Bennett’s book Deeper Man, Robert Fripp, Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31, Opus 110 

Visit for information about Elan’s concert schedule and to purchase his recorded music.


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