As a courtesy, the pianist Frank Glazer brought up the subject of retirement a few weeks ago. With his 100th birthday on the horizon in February, he felt he should at least discuss the possibility of stepping down as artist-in-residence at Bates College.

But his heart wasn’t in the conversation, recalled his Bates music department colleague, James Parakilas.

“He didn’t want to retire, and we didn’t want him to,” Parakilas said Tuesday. “But Frank felt he should bring it up.”

Glazer died early Tuesday morning at Midcoast Hospital in Brunswick. He had been hospitalized in recent weeks and suffered congestive heart failure, Parakilas said.

Glazer was among Maine’s best known classical musicians, thanks to an aggressive performance schedule and his commitment to teaching. He was known as a master technician, whose artistry emerged in his interpretation of works by Schubert, Liszt and Brahms.

“He played with the strength and virtuosity of a man half his age or a third his age, but with the experience of a man 99 years old,” former student Duncan Cumming said. “Technically, you can’t take anything away from him. He just got better and better and better, because he worked at it for so much longer than anyone in the history of the world.”

In addition to performing regularly at Bates, Glazer played piano recitals across Maine. His last performance in Portland was Oct. 2 at the Noonday Concert Series at First Parish Church. Glazer’s late wife, Ruth, founded the series, which is administered by the Portland Conservatory of Music.

“He was a consummate artist, even into his late 90s,” conservatory director Mark Tipton said. “He was able to play with such skill and agility and with the depth of understanding that I have heard in few pianists in my life.”

Glazer learned to play the piano at his sister’s side growing up in Wisconsin. He took music lessons in Milwaukee public schools. After high school, he secured the money to travel to Germany to study with master pianist Arthur Schnabel. He later followed Schnabel to Italy. He made his New York debut in 1936 and debuted with the Boston Symphony in 1939.

Glazer remained active until the final weeks of his life.

“His physical presence changed over the years,” Parakilas said, “but his playing remained unbelievable. He was so fast and spectacular. What happened over the years — he didn’t have the strength and speed that he had when he was younger, but instead there was a kind of translucence to his playing where you could hear everything. The message of the music came out with a kind of simplicity that was unmistakable.”

Glazer’s long career might be explained by his own research. After World War II, where he served in the U.S. Army as an interpreter, Glazer studied human anatomy with an eye on ergonomics. He knew that if he attacked the piano with an overly physical performance, his career would last only as long as he maintained his physical abilities.

He was interested in finding a more relaxed, efficient way to play, using the fewest muscles with the least exertion.

In addition to studying his own body, he analyzed the construction of the piano and researched how the two intersected. The technique he mastered involved keeping his finger muscles relaxed and playing the keys softly. “Hug ’em, don’t hit ’em,” became his motto.

In his old age, he attributed his professional longevity to his research a half-century before.

“It gave me the ability to do things technically that I couldn’t do before, and it didn’t limit the years that I could do things,” he told the Portland Press Herald in 2004. “My hands are fine. My hands work now because of the study I made of piano technique. There’s no doubt about it.”

Cumming was Glazer’s most dedicated student. He became a friend long before he became a disciple. After his junior year in high school, Cumming signed up for a summer music camp. Things were not going well, and he told his mother he wanted to come home.

The next day, Glazer showed up.

“We shook hands and I played for him, and he inspired me from that moment on,” Cumming said.

He took private lessons from Glazer, enrolled at Bates to study with him, and wrote his dissertation about Glazer while earning his doctorate from Boston University. In 2009, he turned that dissertation into a book, “The Fountain of Youth: The Artistry of Frank Glazer.”

Although he was long associated with Bates, Glazer’s relationship with the liberal arts college in Lewiston occupied only the last part of his life. He came to Bates in 1980 after teaching piano at the Eastman School of Music for 15 years.

He and his wife moved to Maine to return to her family farm at Kezar Falls after he retired from Eastman.

Glazer planned to celebrate his birthday with a series of concerts, including one in his native Wisconsin on what would have been his 100th birthday, Feb. 19. Among the pieces that Glazer planned to play was Chopin’s “Fantaisie.” That was the first piece of music Glazer heard someone play in concert. His mother had taken him to a recital in Milwaukee when he was 12, Cumming said.

“Mr. Glazer thought it be nice to end his 100th birthday concert with the very first piece he had heard,” he said.

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