Jean Nandi Harpsichord Books & Memoir
Jean Nandi (formerly Jean Brandt-Erichsen) is a harpsichordist who studied with Gustav Leonhardt and who has twenty years of experience teaching students of all ages and musical backgrounds. In these innovative books, she develops a unique approach to teaching musical beginners, resulting in the total incorporation of music theory into all aspects of musical study. In its mission to promote the arts, the Elverhøj Museum is especially pleased to make available these significant out-of-print books as free PDF downloads. More info about Jean is below.
The daughter of the renowned Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) and the American artist Martha Mott Davis (1906-1983), Jean was born Jean Christina Hovaness in Cambridge, MA, in 1935. She was named after her godfather, the Finnish composer Jean Christian Sibelius, whom her parents had befriended. Her parents divorced in 1938 and she came to know her father again only in the 1950s. She became Jean Brandt-Erichsen when her mother later married Viggo Brandt-Erichsen, and she is a graduate of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a PhD in Zoology and did teaching and research in endocrinology until 1968. In Berkeley she met and married Satyabrata Nandi, a brilliant East Indian biologist and cancer researcher who was to become a full Professor at the University.
Jean's early and ongoing interest in music persisted, aided and abetted by her composer father. Ill health forced her to cut back on physical activities, and eventually to retire to her home where she could teach and practice the harpsichord, which she found possible to do despite a life-long, slowly progressing form of muscular dystrophy.
Although distanced from her father by geography and circumstance, she and Alan Hovhaness remained fast friends throughout the remainder of his life. He had written music for his only daughter since her childhood. They performed together at a concert in Berkeley in 1978 (audio available online). Below is a live recording of Jean Nandi playing the first movement (Allegro) from Hovhaness' Sonata for Harpsichord "Daddy Long Legs" (1.5 minutes — use the Play button to start, or download MP3 file).
By the 1980s, then a wheelchair user, Jean became a powerful advocate for disability rights in her community, using her teaching skills to help other disabled people. Because of her extensive humanitarian work for the handicapped, she was honored by the city of Berkeley's dedication of an entire month in her name.
In recent years Jean's muscle disease has progressed to the point where she is bedridden and is kept alive with a feeding tube, but she continues to lead a full life studying music on her computer.