I was in my early teens when I was lucky enough to meet one of ‘those’ people… I had been playing the upright bass in the middle school orchestra but my Mother insisted I take private lessons from a qualified instructor. Keep in mind this wasn’t piano or guitar that I was playing, it was an upright bass and teachers for this beast of an instrument weren’t exactly a dime a dozen. But my older brother Brian, a great drummer in the Detroit area, was able to locate a bass instructor who came highly recommended, Maxim Janowsky from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Up to this point, I had only played in the school orchestra and had taken some private guitar lessons in the local music stores, so I remember being excited but scared to death all at the same time. I kept thinking “This guy was gonna be serious and probably really old and really mean!”
Maxim Janowsky greeted us at the front door to his home in Huntington Woods, Michigan; he was neither old nor was he mean. He was a man of slim stature with a kind face and a friendly warm smile, as he welcomed me into his home on that day so many years ago; a day my life as a young musician changed forever.
Over the course of the next four years, my high school years, Max taught me every Sunday morning for an hour-long lesson. My father, mother and sometimes my older brother would drive me to the lessons until I was old enough to drive on my own. As courteous and welcoming as Max was, he never allowed anyone to wait in the room while he was teaching, a private lesson was truly private! Max taught me no differently than his college students from Wayne State and Oakland University. I studied from all the same method books and played the same sonatas & concertos as students four and five years older than me.
Max encouraged me to enter every regional solo competition and symphony orchestra. In fact, he was directly responsible for me attending a weeklong summer workshop with classical bass virtuoso Gary Karr. At the age of sixteen, I was studying with legendary world-renowned bassists and playing in orchestras with musicians nearly three times my age. Needless to say, this experience was immeasurable and I progressed as a young bassist in a way that probably would’ve not been possible if I had not been under the mentorship of Max Janowsky.
In my senior year of high school, I received scholarships to the Interlochen all state music program and the University of Michigan. Max had prepared me well and always offered encouraging yet realistic advice. I can remember losing a few scholarship auditions and Max saying to me, “If you can’t handle rejection you’re in the wrong business…” truer words have never been spoken to me!
After high school, I attended the University of Miami Music School on scholarship, however I had changed my emphasis from classical music to Jazz & Rock Fusion. Perhaps this change of focus from a life in the symphony to life in the nightclubs as a freelancer was a disappointment to Max, but I never lost any of the discipline and incredible knowledge he passed on to me. Regardless of what style of music I chose to pursue, I would not be the player I am today without the effective practice habits and overall respect for my craft & art that Max Janowsky instilled in me. I thank you Max, as you now play in heavens orchestra, you were not only a great teacher but also a great man. Love ya Max!
Maxim Janowsky’s Official Bio:
Maxim Janowsky joined the DSO in September 1964 following a four-year post with the Hartford Symphony and performances with the Connecticut Opera orchestra. Born in Hartford, CT, Janowsky studied at the Tanglewood Institute, Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Hartford. His principal teachers have included Fred Zimmerman of the New York Philharmonic, George Moleux of the Boston Symphony, and his own father, Isador Janowsky, who was Principal Bass of the Hartford Symphony.
An active teacher, Janowsky has taught at Wayne State and Oakland universities. His article, “Theme and Variations,” which discusses the application of the Galamian Violin Method of effective practicing to the study of the bass, was printed in the International Society of Bassists’ Magazine in 1984. He also lectured on the subject at the 1984 International Society of Bassists Convention.
Also very interested in gourmet cooking, Janowsky has studied in Paris at two of the world’s most famous cooking schools: Cordon Bleu and La Varenne. At Cordon Bleu he received a diploma in Pastry and at La Verrenne he focused on French Provincial cooking and fish cookery. He has also attended classes at the Escofier Cooking School at the Ritz.
Mr. Janowsky was born in 1943 in Hartford, Conn. His father and onetime teacher, Isador Janowsky, was principal bassist of Hartford Symphony. Mr. Janowsky’s other key teachers were the noted bass pedagogue Fred Zimmermann of the New York Philharmonic and George Moleux of the Boston Symphony.
Mr. Janowsky studied at Tanglewood, Interlochen Arts Academy and University of Hartford. Prior to joining the DSO he played with the Hartford Symphony.
He is survived his wife of 37 years, Joan.