the Life and Art of German Diez
a documentary by Antongiulio Panizzi
a project by Francesca Khalifa and Antongiulio Panizzi
Piano Lessons is feature-length documentary which tells the story of an“unsung hero” , pianist and pedagogue German Diez Nieto, whose devotion to teaching has touched and formed generations of accomplished classical musicians.
The documentary not only tells an untold and compelling story, but in doing so it aims to bear witness to the importance of Diez’s legacy, a tradition of music making passing down directly from Franz Liszt. Furthermore, the film explores the relationship that exists between an artist and his mentor and the value that this personal relationship can have in the process of an artistic development.
This project is the product of the collaboration between documentary director and TV author Antongiulio Panizzi and pianist Francesca Khalifa.
The documentary stems from the research Khalifa has conducted in the past few years on the life of her mentor, Cuban pianist and pedagogue German Diez Nieto, after his passing.
The story connects the elements of Diez's personal life especially as a Cuban in the United States before and after the Revolution, and the ones of his artistic life as one of the very few pupils of Claudio Arrau and heir of the Lisztian tradition.
About the movie
The movie has been produced by Moving-Garden LLC.
Partners of Moving-Garden are the Cuban company Ojala Produciones, the Greenwich House Music School, the American Liszt Society (which granted an official endorsement of the project), and Steinway & Sons and Steinway Hall in New York City (which kindly provided pianos and hall for the fundraising and presentation event held on September 12th 2019).
Piano Lessons is a fiscally sponsored project of the International Documentary Association (IDA).
Status and Support
The shooting of the interviews for the film has been completed in July 2019 and the documentary's post-production phase was completed in March, 2021.
From the endorsement letter of the American Liszt Society:
"The proceeds of the underwriting are intended to financially support the production of a film documentary, featuring the late and revered German Diez. Maestro Diez dedicated a lifetime to the continuation of the style, form, musicianship, and keyboard technique of the master pianist, Claudio Arrau. A recipient of the Medal of the American Liszt Society Mr. Arrau was the teacher of the young German Diez. Following years of study with the master and performing on tour Diez served as an assistant teacher to Mr. Arrau. Through, seven decades Diez passed the grand Liszt /Arrau artistic and pianistic tradition to hundreds of pianists now serving as torchbearers of the Arrau art. Students and teachers seeking the knowledge of Arrau's art sought the friendship, advice, and knowledge of German. They came from conservatories, universities, piano competitions and private studios around the globe"
President Jay A. Hershberger