The following letter was sent to TaR by Mr. Robert Lemieux who was lucky enough to be a student of the great Ida Presti. Unfortunately, Mr. Lemieux forgot to write his email address in the "contact" form, so it was not possible to ask his permission for publishing. I hope he doesn't have any objections. (I hope also that he will read that note and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ) (Kostas Grigoreas)
I was fortunate to be a student of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya in 1965 and 1966 at the Academie Internationale in Nice. As I came there at the age of 18 and away from my family to whom I was very attached, Presti-Lagoya were in my heart like my adoptive parents as they were for so many of us there. Ida Presti would call us "ses enfants". I never saw Ida Presti without dynamism. They were both so filled with music and so enthusiastic to transmit to us their knowledge. As you can imagine, we were like sponges. I personally was very attached to them.
I was in Paris when Ida Presti died. It is my friend and teacher, Carel Harms (who afterwards became Lagoya's assistant at the Conservatoire de Paris) who arrived at my apartment and told me. I just could not believe it and we went to get a newspaper right away hoping it was not true. I could not listen to their recordings for 10 years afterwards; I would just start crying the few times I tried.
Of course what we saw as students is what they wanted us to see. Their life was filled with music and at all the concerts and classes and private events, this was always transparent. The only person I think suffered from all of this was their son, Sylvain. He was about 12 in 1965. I could see that he was sad and alone with a lot of competition from all these guitarists, the "enfants" of his parents. But as for Ida Presti, I never saw a sad look on her face, not a look that would betray her feelings. She was filled with energy and happiness as I knew her. After a great concert at salle Pleyel in Paris, she showed me her left thumb that she had deeply slashed with a knife just before the concert and complained how it hurt while playing. That is the only complaining I ever heard from her.
I am digitalizing their Musique Espagnole record now which I had not listened to in the last twenty some years. Such beautiful music, such an early loss. Regards, Robert Lemieux Montreal (Canada)
Ida Presti, Alexandre Lagoya and their students in 1965 at the Academie Internationale in Nice.
Ida Presti, Alexandre Lagoya and their students in 1966 at the Academie Internationale in Nice. (Both photographs are from Evangelos & Liza's archive)