Courtesy PhotoPianist Assaff Weisman performs Beethoven and Dvorák with fellow Juilliard alumni in the first concert during the Music at Meyer series.

Courtesy PhotoPianist Assaff Weisman performs Beethoven and Dvorák with fellow Juilliard alumni in the first concert during the Music at Meyer series.

Juilliard alumns open Music at Meyer season

Few American traditions have proven so captivating as the Juilliard School stamp of approval. The list of alumni, from Leonard Bernstein and Van Cliburn to Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Renee Fleming, reads like a who’s who of the music world. The school’s influence has altered the landscape of serious music-making and garnered the attention of Hollywood and the public.

Monday evening, alumnus pianist Assaff Weisman and Aeolus Quartet — Juilliard’s resident string quartet—open the 11th Music at Meyer season with a Beethoven-Dvorák program.

Weisman, who currently teaches at Juilliard, is a founding member of the heralded Israeli Chamber Project, a group of first-rate Israeli musicians with deep ties to the school. The pianist opens with Beethoven’s “Tempest” sonata, Op. 31 No. 2, a work he learned as a 12-year-old prodigy.

“It’s the sonata I’ve played most often through the years, and it’s certainly one of my favorite works,” Weisman says. “Its character is murky, hard to define and there’s a nervous energy throughout the piece that constantly shimmers and boils.”

Named after the Greek god and keeper of the four winds, the Aeolus Quartet made headlines in 2011, winning the Plowman Chamber Music and Chamber Music Yellow Springs competitions. The foursome performs Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 18 No. 1 in F major — published in 1801, the same year “Tempest” was composed — before joining forces in the Dvorák with Weisman.

When Czech composer Antonín Dvorák moved from Prague to New York in 1892, he was shocked by philistine attitudes in America and the difficulties of making a career in music. More than a century later, for Weisman the latter truth remains.

“Walking through the halls at Juilliard, there are more and more people auditioning every year. It’s sad, but performance opportunities are limited,” Weisman says. “Artistry is not well-suited for competition, but it’s sort of a necessary evil that we have to deal with.”

For the lucky few, however, a life in music is deeply satisfying.

“I am so thrilled to be able to share these works, to preserve these great accomplishments of mankind, because they ennoble us,” Weisman says. “My job is a little bit as a curator: I clean it, dust it, I think of how to present it, and then we put it on stage for people to enjoy. The fact that it passes through me is secondary, it’s really all about the music.”

The Music at Meyer concert series includes the Boston Trio (March 10), pianist Gilead Mishory (March 17), Baroque Music of Jewish Composers (March 24), the Adler Fellows of the San Francisco Opera (March 31), pianist Peter Vinograde (April 7) and Shuffle (April 28).


Aeolus Quartet and Assaff Weisman

Where: Temple Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $22 to $25

Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.emanuelsf.orgAeolus QuartetartsAssaff WeismanClassical Music & OperaMusic at Meyer

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Most Read