Looking at the musical and piano aspects, I certainly owe a lot of what I can do to my course of study with Professor Cognolato. Even though he used to point out with a smile, at every achievement, that it was “on my own merits”, I never fully believed it; I will not dwell on the level of competence and professionalism with which I was followed in deepening the piano repertoire I developed in my curriculum, since I believe that competence and professionalism are qualities that, although they are not to be taken for granted, cannot be enough to make one a great teacher.
From a human perspective, I found in Igor a teacher always attentive and focused to bring out the best in each student; he was able to arouse my passion for types of music that I would have perhaps never considered, spurring me into the study of pieces that I believed I would not be able to complete. Professor Cognolato was willing to travel hundreds of miles by car to come and listen to my first recitals with the repertoire we had prepared together.
If I think back to the 5 years of study with Professor Cognolato, I don’t remember a single occasion when I showed up in class without being enthusiastic about the work to be done, and, once the lesson was over, I was always impatient to get back on the piano to put what I had learned into practice – I believe that this is the best one could wish for from a teacher.”
Giulio Scaramella | Italy
“I was with Maestro Cognolato from 2012 to 2015. I got my Master Degree in Trieste after a long pause of classical music and he really inspired me to work more. I’m teaching piano in Sofia at the moment, and regularly I play as a soloist or as an part of ensembles or orchestra. I just want to say one big Thank you, Igor, for being such a great Maestro and for your patience with me!”
Mariya Simeonova | Bulgaria
“Igor Cognolato, ottimo docente ed eccellente pianista. Ci siamo conosciuti in occasione della preparazione dell’esame del quinto anno di pianoforte (vecchio ordinamento): è stato un gran motivatore e mi ha permesso miglioramenti sia nell’ambito tecnico che della performance e nell’organizzazione dello studio.
A seguito del superamento dell’esame mi ha seguita anche durante il sesto anno, organizzandomi il programma e dandomi utilissimi consigli tecnici per migliorare le performance. Inutile sottolineare che il vasto repertorio da lui conosciuto, mi dava la possibilità di ascoltare estemporaneamente tutti i brani che avrei dovuto imparare di lì a pochi anni, soffermandoci insieme su quelli che sarebbero potuti essere i passaggi più difficili (e ai quali avrei dovuto dedicare maggiore attenzione).
È inoltre persona di grande pazienza e sensibilità, ne conservo tutt’ora un ricordo bellissimo e ritengo sia stata una persona fondamentale nella mia carriera professionale. Grazie Prof.!”
Marta Putzulu | Italy
“I had the pleasure and fortune to study with Maestro Igor Cognolato while a student at the United World College of the Adriatic (07-08). As a young, aspiring pianist, I found great inspiration in Maestro Cognolato’s teachings. His love and enthusiasm towards music was infectious. His depth of knowledge of the lives and creativeness of composers set the stage for my ongoing curiosity as a classical musician.
Under Maestro Cognolato’s guidance, I was awarded a full scholarship to study at the prestigious Boston Conservatory at Berklee (Bachelor of Music). This important step propelled my education further to other top music schools in the United States: Jacobs School of Music – Indiana University (Masters of Music) and Frost School of Music – University of Miami (Doctorate of Musical Arts).
I have very fond memories of Maestro Cognolato’s dedication, care, and love that he induced in all of his students and I hope he continues to influence the lives of many more young artists.”
Inesa Gegprifti | Albania
“Igor Cognolato is a very subtile professor. He has a sharp sense for a student with whom he works and he always teaches in correlation with student’s individual needs. He is very accurate and has a very reach knowledgment so his information is always useful. He has a strong inner feeling for estetics and music, what can be felt and what affects a person that works with him.”
Sara Rustja Turniški | Slovenia
“Ho avuto quello che considero un grande onore di conoscere Igor Cognolato in occasione della preparazione del mio diploma di pianoforte, ormai qualche anno fa. Delusa da un percorso che mi aveva imbrigliata con mille divieti e infinite paure di interpretare brani imposti a priori.
Ricordo con immagini dai contorni ancora dettagliati la prima lezione con il Maestro: tre ore sulle prime due righe della Ballata op.47 n. 3 di Chopin. Quando alzai gli occhi dal pianoforte ero convinta fosse trascorsa un’ora! Ho sempre ricordato quel momento come un autentico esempio di insegnamento. Insegnare, etimologicamente fa riferimento a un “lasciare il segno” da parte del maestro (del magister, “colui che sa di più”). E il Maestro Cognolato aveva lasciato il suo segno: un coinvolgimento globale di tecnica, di fraseggio, di contestualizzazione del brano che hanno destato in me meraviglia e stupore.
Arrivata al diploma – sicuramente molto cambiata non solo nel mio suonare il pianoforte ma anche in un atteggiamento più sicuro di me stessa – ho riproposto il mio Chopin. Ricordo che il presidente della commissione esaltò la mia esecuzione affermando che per la prima volta riusciva ad ascoltare uno Chopin non “liquefatto”
Ho sempre dato grande merito di questo al Maestro Igor: una grande concretezza, una musica che si fa carne, passione per elevarsi ad una trascendenza eterea, spirituale, magica.”
Elisa Causin | Italy
“Una delle caratteristiche del M° Igor Cognolato è sicuramente l‘eleganza con cui affronta le sue lezioni le quali non vertono mai esclusivamente sull‘aspetto pianistico, ma puntano soprattutto a mettere in relazione la musica e l’opera che si sta affrontando con svariati ambiti artistici e letterari, così da stimolare ed ispirare un sentimento, un ideale, un‘immagine evocativa.
Ricordo in particolar modo, tra le tante opere affrontate insieme, Le Danze del Re David – Rapsodia ebraica su temi tradizionali, op. 37 di Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, attraverso cui ho avuto modo di capire quanto il positivo risultato finale del lavoro sia stato in gran parte merito non solo dei consigli tecnici, seppur sempre utili ed efficaci, ma delle suggestioni evocate dai suoi esempi che mi hanno aperto diverse chiavi di lettura interpretativa.
Giuseppe Grippi | Italy
“En el 2014, junto a mis compañeros y amigos del Conservatorio Superior de Música “Salvador Seguí” de Castellón, tuve la oportunidad de participar en una masterclass de Igor Cognolato en nuestro centro. Pasaban los meses, y en todos nosotros permanecía un recuerdo similar de aquel encuentro.
Además de los preciosos consejos que pudimos escuchar, se nos grabó en la memoria la figura de una persona seria, amable, y de unos exquisitos modales, por encima de todo. Dos años después, decidí continuar estudiando en, con toda seguridad, una de las ciudades más especiales del mundo: Venecia. Y allí me acogió en su clase, dentro del programa Erasmus, y me encontré con un gran músico y profesor lleno de conocimiento, energía y sonrisas, tal y como había imaginado.
Y cada lunes temprano, durante ocho meses, asistí a sus lecciones, sin recibir una mala cara, un grito, o un mal gesto, aprendiendo y riendo de muchas otras cosas más con la música como contexto. Al terminar el verano, tras haber concluido mis estudios en España, decidí volver, y todavía hoy continúo con él. Y sigo aprendiendo con la confianza que me entregó desde el primer día, sin haber dejado de sentirme acogido, durante lo que son ya tres años viviendo en Italia.”
Francisco Bullón | Spain
“Cuando llegué a Venecia no conocía a nadie, todo era totalmente nuevo para mi, sin embargo, Igor hizo que me sintiera en calma, como en casa. Había perdido un poco el entusiasmo por el piano y estaba estancada.
Con él recuperé la pasión y las ganas. Me ayudó mucho a perfeccionar mi técnica, a experimentar, a mejorar mi sonoridad y mi entendimiento de la música.
Recuerdo que las clases pasaban rápido porque me encontraba muy a gusto y aprendía rápido con él. Nunca voy a olvidarme de su buen humor y de su excelente trato hacia mi.
Ahora soy profesora y tengo integrada la manera de enseñar que me transmitió tanto para mi estudio: cómo organizar mi estudio, los pasajes que me cuestan más, cómo pensarlos, barajar distintas opciones y cómo desarrollar mi oido interno y sentir la música… Como también, para transmitir a mis alumnos y guiarles en su proceso.
Para mi Igor es un ejemplo de músico completo en toda su esencia y además tiene un don para la enseñanza . Aprender, y disfrutar de la manera más sana. Gracias Igor por compartir tu sabiduría y música conmigo.”
Macarena Puchol Agut | Spain
“I had the opportunity to study with maestro Cognolato in Duino – it was an eye-opening experience for me and helped to look at my piano playing from a very different angle.
I could say that after studying with Igor, my performance anxiety got much better, because my mind was concentrating on the story/music rather than just trying to play the right notes.
While teaching, Igor always managed to put me at ease, and there was never a
problem that he couldn’t solve.”
Nomin Samdan | Mongolia
Pierluigi Palazzi | Italy
“It was the evening before my first piano concert at the United World College of the
Adriatic in Duino, Italy. Among other pieces, I was to play Etude Op. 65 No. 3 by Alexander
Scriabin, an oeuvre I liked very much, only that it demanded fingers of steel, mechanical
precision and manly composure. I am not certain that I have ever had the former two, but it was
the third one that I lacked for sure. I dreaded public performances. In my home country, playing
the piano to an audience was not about enjoying yourself – it was about not embarrassing your
piano teacher, or at least this was how I felt it back in the day.
With eleven years of such experience weighing on my shoulders and now facing my new piano teacher Igor Cognolato, I
was somewhat expecting the old to repeat itself: my teacher wanting me to go on the stage and
play better than I have ever played in class or risk a serious conversation postmortem. So,
imagine my relief, and a subsequent sense of calm, when he laughed off my fears and told me
to go and enjoy myself as if playing were the only thing that mattered. It was then, that evening,
that I realised: performances in public weren’t simply an obligatory torment to go through that
allowed more classroom practice that I enjoyed, that led to more torment to go through, to again
give a justification for practice. They were a game to play, in which the only loser was myself if I
failed to enjoy it.
The following two years with Igor went along the same lines. It was hard – never in my
life have I played and studied so much, but it was incredibly fun and productive. Igor did not
approach the studying of piano through the number of hours you played: on the contrary,
headless playing was always discouraged. Piano was very much about practice, but, more
importantly, you had to study – to break the difficult parts into smaller, manageable bits, and to
string them back together to produce a piece of your own. What mattered to Igor was the
thought behind the process, not the hours of pointless drumming with your fingers, going from
bar to bar, then line, then page – something I was doing all those long years at home. It was
about approaching a piano piece like a problem to solve, solving it and then putting the solution
into practice and playing one’s heart out.
It is precisely this that stuck with me once I finished my studies with Igor and moved to
the United Kingdom to pursue a different career – the approach to any problem in life with
thought, tranquillity and playfulness. When I face a difficult situation, I do not launch myself at it
to find my way out. Instead, I examine it and break it into pieces. In two years with Igor, I have
learnt to play the piano better than I could have learnt it in many more years at home, but, more
importantly, I have learnt how to apply the piano practice in other areas of my life. In those two
most formative years, I have learnt how to play and how to put the play into practice in my everyday life.”
Kamile Vaupsaite | Lithuania
In 2008 I had the amazing opportunity to study at the United World College of Adriatic in Duino, Italy, together with about two hundred international students from all over the world; that was first time I met Professor Igor Cognolato as my music supervisor.
From my early age, I always had a deep interest to become a professional pianist in order to play and share music with others; I was also hoping, one day, to study with excellent Professors: infact after finishing the College I was admitted at Conservatorio di musica “Giuseppe Tartini” in Trieste to pursue my studies: attending his classes I found out how much Professor Cognolato was an expert in numerous music subjects and eager to generously help and share his incredible knowledge and skills with me and other students.
Nowadays, being myself a music teacher and a professional pianist at the Mongolian State Conservatory of music, I always cherish his invaluable talents as well as carry out his teachings both to my colleagues and to my students.
I have studied 5 years long with him, but I took many masterclasses also with other world known professors: nevertheless I found Professor Cognolato to really be the one who knows how to bring out the best of his students. He always used to say that “a good teacher brings out the greatness that you already have inside within yourself”. Also, I was always impressed by his repertoire’s knowledge and his way of bringing his students through their own personal interpretations, which often were unique (and he encouraged us to push them even further).
During that time my student-colleagues and I had many concert opportunities and attended several international piano competitions all around the world.
Some of my personal accolades have been:
• The First prize at International Piano Competition “Milosz Magin” in Paris (2011).
• The First Prize at International Piano Competition “Chopin and Mongolia 21st century” Ulanbator, Mongolia (2011).
• The First Prize at International Piano Competition “Villa de Madrid” Madrid, Spain (2013).
• The Fourth Prize at national “Concorso Premio Venezia” Venice, Italy (2014).
• An audition for the selected candidates at “Frédérik Chopin International Piano Competition” Warsaw, Poland (2015).
The latest contest I participated to was the International Tchaikovsky Competition for instruments and voice in Saint Petersburg, Russia (2019) where I got the special prize as “Best Accompanist”.
Still today I highly value Professor Igor for his teaching to me that there is a deep difference between “being a good pianist” and “being a good artist”, as well as there is a difference between “being a good artist” and “being a good man”.
Professor Cognolato is still an example to me and I always share everything I have learnt with my own students and I push them to develop themselves to become better human beings.
Bat Erdene Bat-Bileg | Mongolia
I met Igor Cognolato during the last two years of my course of studies at the University of Music in Cagliari. I immediately appreciated his calmness and kindness in the ways and the deep culture. He guided me in choosing the final exam program, also suggesting unusual pieces, which had a philological and musical sense that made the program compact, coherent and full of references.
This was the first great lesson received: to compose an interesting concert program, full of ideas, comprehensive and convincing, showing curiousity towards the wide piano repertoire, quality that Maestro Cognolato had and tried to convey to his students.
He asked me to study a virtuoso piece that I never imagined I could perform well, being aware of my limitations. I accepted the challenge, only because of his charisma: he managed to convey confidence to me and convinced me I would be able – with a lot of study and patience – to achieve the goal. He therefore urged me to have courage in approaching the repertoire but also in the interpretative choices; he also taught me to always seek clarity of intentions in execution; rigor and faithful to the text not separated from imagination, and work ethic.
I nostalgically remember the long lessons in the classroom: Igor Cognolato – who spoke fluent English and German – was the first to explain to me the etymology of the German words (relating to agogic indications, etc.) found in the scores of Beethoven or Schumann.
Furthermore, he often told anecdotes about composers and great interpreters, which stimulated my curiosity to deepen their knowledge; the philosophical and literary ideas arising from the lessons are also very important and very useful for a overall understanding of musical works.
After my graduation he gave me a score with dedication (Davidsbündlertänze by Schumann): I greatly appreciated his gift; since then Schumann became one of my favourite composers.
We also kept in touch after his transfer to another University and after a few years we met again in Venice.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend several Masterclasses held by the Prof.Cognolato and I rediscovered his unchanged passion and dedication for teaching, care in the preparation of each student and his generosity.
I also had the pleasure of listening to several of his recitals, appreciating his qualities as a fine performer: I remember a touching performance of " Elegy in memoriam Roberto Szidon", his teacher, towards whom he had great devotion; and I cant’t forget exciting collaborations with Athenaeum Berlin Philharmonic String
Stefano Cocco | Italy
I first met Igor about 25 years ago, at the time I was a student at the Venice conservatoire, it was straight after my 8th year exam on the piano course: I had literally scraped through to pass, my morale and general motivation to continue playing at its lowest.
I had joined the conservatoire at age 11: at my entry audition I was commended for my musicality, a young promising pianist. However, despite my many successful performances, as I grew older, my concentration started to regularly fail and lost me many marks at exams. After the herculean task that was the 8th year exam, and after facing yet another humiliation, I decided I had had enough, and resolved to drop out.
A classmate of mine, in an attempt to persuade me not to give up, told me about a concert pianist living locally who might be able to help me. That is when I first met Igor.
I remember very clearly the day I first went to see him, and how could I forget our first lesson? It lasted four long hours, but I remember it could have gone on for a further four, so much were the details we covered, dissecting and analysing my performance. I remember I was exhausted, but I distinctly recollect a newly found enthusiasm to go home and practice.
On that very day Igor accepted me to become his student.
That was the beginning of a phase in my life that led to the successful completion of my Conservatoire studies, and, most importantly, the start of my reconciliation with music and piano playing.
During those years Igor’s teaching made me appreciate, perhaps for the first time, that as musicians we have a duty to listeners, as it’s through our respect and faithfulness to the written music that we are allowed to bring music to life, thus taking them on journeys of immense beauty.
I remember very fondly how each lesson began with a chat, in his house, surrounded by his family, that I got to know gradually as they welcomed me with kindness and affection.
His guidance made me focus on what needed to be done, pragmatically and in an orderly fashion, as he liked best.
The phrase that he always used after I first played something was that we needed to put things in order (fare ordine). That I remember as perhaps the most important mantra I learnt from him, it was meant for my music but eventually seeped through into my life.
I often observe that the cliched impression people have of music and musicians is perhaps still harking back to romanticism, with emotions pouring out and audiences taken on remote journeys. That is certainly what happens for listeners, but for the performer to enable that, rigorous and methodical work must precede it: discipline and clarity of mind expertly mixed with creativity, imagination and attention to detail. Only such rigorous work can bring to life the written score in the unique way that characterises every live performance.
As a successful concert pianist, Igor taught me how to overcome physical obstacles that hindered performance: the way I had been taught to resolve technical difficulties was repetition and practice, nothing could be further from the truth. Igor showed me how thinking in a different way could trick my hands into playing faster, how by lowering speed at the low register I could simulate a bigger sound, and many, many more. Finally every problem I came across had a clear and logical solution, no nonsense.
My Conservatoire studies story had a happy ending thanks to Igor, who guided me firmly yet gently, thus keeping my relationship with music a positive one. Nowadays I do not play for a living but I teach music and am training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics where my piano skills and musicality are paramount to guide my own students.
Of all the skills that I acquired through his lessons, perhaps the most long-lasting is music study starting by looking inwards. I remember he kept telling me to start reading a new piece by looking “within myself”. I remember, 20 years ago, this sounded very enigmatic and frankly a bit bonkers, but I now know he referred to the connection with what I played. That’s why he encouraged me to study away from the piano, imagining and playing music in my head, to fully internalise it, understand it and play it from within.
Of course, I also remember his stubbornness when it came to being paid, and the endless arguments when he’d taught me for three hours but, somehow, I was allowed to only pay two.
I can say now that Igor became for me a very important figure, a steady point of reference at a time of internal turmoil. Over 25 years since we first met, I am still thoroughly grateful and forever indebted to him: a world-class pianist, dear friend and a formidable teacher.
Giuseppina Mazzella | Italy