Conversation with Zara Nelsova – 1996 – Alexander Knapp

“I arrived at Agate Beach one rainy night. There, waiting for me at the bus stop, was a stocky figure in a cape and beret. Ernest and Marguerite Bloch welcomed me to their home above the Pacific coast; and I was immediately taken by their enormous warmth. They accommodated me in the studio that Bloch had built above the garage. In the garage there was a machine for polishing the agates that he loved to collect on the beach. As our friendship progressed, I would often accompany him during these expeditions.  We worked together on Schelomo, Voice in the Wilderness, and From Jewish Life, as I wanted to absorb his ideas about these works. At that time there were no plans for public performances or recordings together. Sometimes, when I ws practising, I would hear Bloch’s heavy footsteps as he ascended the stairs in his hip boots and then the door would open: ‘No, No, No! Not like that, but like this!’ and he would sit at the piano in his rubber boots, and we would work together for many hours. He always emphasised, for example, that Schelomo was a Rhapsody, not a Romance; and he objected to the fact that performances of this work were too often exaggerated and therefore distorted.”

— Zara Nelsova in conversation with Alexander Knapp, September 1996.

[According to Lewinski, Zara Nelsova came to Agate Beach for a day in December 1957 and played the ‘seconde Suite pour violoncelle seul.’]

[According to Lewinski, Zara Nelsova came to Agate Beach for three days in November 1954.]