" I was horribly scared when I met Hasselmans"
Lily was 8 when her mother took her to Alphonse
Hasselmans, a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, to ask him to
give her lessons. He refused at first, because he never took beginners.
Lily's mother stood up to leave, declaring that "in that case,
my daughter will not play the harp". Amazed at such aplomb, he
finally accepted. Three years later, Lily entered the Conservatoire.
She would always be scared of the glacial professor, whom she both
admired and feared. But her mother took her to each lesson to reassure
her by her presence.
" Competition is the nerve of war "
Lily Laskine says herself that her pride
and no doubt her desire not to disappoint her parents, whom
she admired, were powerful stimulants. She also had a competitive
streak. When she entered the Conservatoire, in 1904, she was
confronted with students who were sometimes older than she.
One of them, almost double her age, once said to her "You
don't really compare yourself with us, do you?" - but indeed,
she did, and she was the best. At eleven she obtained a second
prize with the concerto by Henriette Renié, and the following
year, 1906, she took first prize with La Légende by Albert
Zabel. She was just 13 and from then on she never took another
lesson. She was her own mistress and built up her own repertoire
like a genius.
" Of course, I enjoyed playing the harp, but I would really have liked
to be a singer or dancer ! "
Later on, during the First World War, she
became passionately interested in singing and dancing. She was too
old for dancing, and her physique was not suitable: this was made
known to her. She was also a good singer. "I had a nice voice,
although it was a bit thin. If I had not been a harpist, I would probably
have had a decent career as a singer". She also found a third
passion: harmony. She enjoyed the rigour and precision. In fact, she
had eclectic tastes that were not satisfied by the harp alone. "