Cornelia Vertenstein Gave Many Lessons Beyond the Piano

Cornelia Vertenstein Gave Many Lessons Beyond the Piano

Cornelia Vertenstein Gave Many Lessons Beyond the Piano

Cornelia Vertenstein Gave Many Lessons Beyond the Piano

She was sure not going to let social-distancing protocols get in the way of one-on-one piano lessons. Ms. Frampton and others helped teach Ms. Vertenstein to use FaceTime. The recitals, performed on Zoom from dozens of living rooms before a matrix of family members, were trickier. But they worked.

Last May, Ms. Vertenstein hoped that she could soon welcome her students back into her home. That never happened.

Her last student, it turns out, was Maggie Frampton, 14, one of those featured in the online recital last May. It was early in the morning two Mondays ago, on FaceTime before school. Maggie told her mother afterward that Ms. Vertenstein was not feeling well. (Ms. Vertenstein’s family said she did not have Covid-19 and had recently received the first dose of vaccine.)

Now the Frampton children are among the 30 current students of Ms. Vertenstein in search of a new teacher.

“Some naïve part of me thought she would live forever,” Yvette Frampton said.

Also unclear is what will become of Ms. Vertenstein’s three pianos, including the Chickering & Sons that she and her husband bought for $600 in 1965, two years after landing in the United States, and the two grand pianos reserved mostly for older students or those rehearsing concerts or recitals.

On Tuesday, on a cold and blustery Colorado afternoon, family and a few friends attended a graveside funeral as others watched online. The rabbi quoted Plato’s line about music giving “soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination” — the same line that Ms. Vertenstein chose for the program for last spring’s recital.

Minutes before her small, plain coffin was lowered into the earth, notes from former students were read. One recalled how Ms. Vertenstein never liked the word “practice.”

You do not practice, she would say. You make music.

She sprinkled lessons everywhere.


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