Hanna Lachert, violin, New York Philharmonic

The Sixth Woman

Posted on September 28, 2012

Hanna Lachert took her love affair with the violin from post-WWII Poland to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

This was what he was doing when he was taken away from our family and imprisoned because of his political connections to the allies during the war. He was imprisoned by the communists and sentenced to death. After two weeks, the sentence was changed instead to life imprisonment, during which he was tortured. It was a nightmare. Not only was my father imprisoned, but my parents lost all of their possessions during the war, including their estate which was confiscated.
My mother was left alone with four children and was extremely brave to bring us up during that time. She had to go back to her profession in order to support us. She had been trained as a pianist; that’s how she had begun to make a living. She was teaching her students at home, from what I can remember, two full days a week. I was the youngest of the four and was at home during these lessons and that was the only time I had my mother at home. My father wasn’t there, so it was always Grandma who brought me up. Naturally, as I started to grow up, I began to feel a connection to my mother through the piano. During her lessons, I would sit on her lap or I’d listen to her teaching from the next room. When she was not there or I was sick, the keyboard was very attractive to me. In those days, we had no television; there were only other children to play with and we played some wonderful games. We played outdoors with sticks and flowers and anything else we could find in our garden and the surrounding forest that we had access to. As well as this, I would play on the piano.
Therefore, my relationship with music began at a very early age. I started playing when I was three and it was nothing out of the ordinary, until I turned four and was invited to play the role of little Chopin in a film. There is a legend, or perhaps it is true, that Chopin’s parents woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of music playing and to their great amazement they found their son, Erik Chopin in the living room on the piano. It was this and other accolades that I received throughout my childhood that caused some to label me as a child prodigy. I never saw myself as such; I was simply interested in playing. The first concert I performed was when I was five-years-old, but there were other kids who were practicing so I thought I was quite normal.

Read more of Hanna’s fascinating story in Overcoat Issue Three: Dreams.

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