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Joseph Polisi

President of the Juilliard School 1984-2018

Dearest Aldo:

It is with much emotion that I write you to express my enormous respect and admiration for all that you have accomplished in your many years of performing and teaching. I am regrettably out of the country on September 30 or else I would have been with you at this special celebration. It has been a great honor for me to know you as a colleague and as a friend, both at Juilliard and at Yale, during your extraordinary career. I also remember with great fondness our recording session featuring obscure works for the cello and bassoon, which we realized very late in the evening on the  Sprague Hall stage many years ago. Although my principal memories focused on the music that we made together, I also remember with great amusement your habit of flicking your cigarette ash onto the front of your Stradivarius cello during breaks in the music. I remember asking why you were doing that, and you said the ash kept the bugs out of the wood. Obviously one of the few positives of cigarettes.

You have set the standard for what it is to be a great teacher at a great institution. Your dedication to your students, your extraordinary artistry, and your exceptional humanity are all qualities that have profoundly touched all of us who have had the privilege of knowing you. I believe the only thing we ever differed on had to do with the joys of playing in an orchestra, but I’ll leave those stories for another time.

I wish you and Elizabeth and your entire family great health and happiness in the time ahead. You have been one of the most extraordinary individuals who I have known during my lifetime, and I thank you for your friendship and wonderful goodwill for all the years that we’ve known each other.

With love,


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