Pianist brings dedication and focus to music and science

August 24, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Jeffrey Eugene Guida pounded the ivory keys on the black Steinway & Sons piano and produced musical anger, passion and chaos.

Mr. Guida played "Mephisto Waltz No. 1" a 10-minute selection by the Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt, based on a story about a charlatan who sold his soul to the devil for knowledge and pleasure.

"It's one of my all-time favorites because of his [Liszt's] passion, anger and strength . . . the colors are so beautiful," he said in the living room of his parent's home in Hobbit's Glen.

When he finished playing, an invigorated Mr. Guida admitted it was a tough piece to do without warming up first. "It's like running a marathon without stretching."

But Mr. Guida is used to pushing himself. He's a classical pianist who's also planning to be an electrical engineer.

The 1992 Centennial High School graduate is studying electrical engineering and music at the University of Virginia, where he will begin his junior year tomorrow.

This spring he began his second summer working as an analyst assisting top scientists on EnviroNET, a $250,000 a year global computer network at the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt that provides users with 18 on-line interactive models of the space environment that calculate and predict environmental conditions. Anyone with a computer can log on.

He has excelled during his work at the NASA-funded program, said EnviroNET's manager Michael Lauriente.

"He's very good. He has all the signs of an achiever," said Dr. Lauriente, who lives in Clarksville Ridge.

Since being in the program, Mr. Guida said he has met students with similar interests and learned a lot about the power of computer networking and space environment. "It blows me away all the time," he said.

Math and science have always captured his attention. "I like to know how things work," Mr. Guida said.

Though his two passions might seem poles apart, he said they have two things in common.

"It seems like an odd combination, black and white, two different fields," Mr. Guida said. "But to be a serious musician you need dedication and focus."

To concentrate more on his music, this summer he worked three days a week instead of the five-day work week he followed last year.

Mr. Guida tries to give at least one concert a year. And on Sunday he gave a summer recital at his house, drawing 30 people, including Dr. Lauriente.

"He came out in his tails and was very professional," Dr. Lauriente. "I was very pleased."

At age 7, Mr. Guida, the youngest of two boys, began taking piano lessons, following in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Eugene Wasielewski, who died in 1972.

Mr. Wasielewski, an accomplished pianist, also was associate director at Goddard from 1960 to 1971.

His mother Rita Guida said she was surprised that Jeffrey followed his grandfather in both engineering and music.

"We kind of noticed Jeffrey seemed to have good spatial relations. He'd take model cars and line them up on the piano keys. He'd very carefully line them up," Mrs. Guida said.

Artur Rubinstein is Mr. Guida's favorite pianist. "I try to emulate the passion and love he has for music," he said.

When he plays the piano, Mr. Guida likes to open the window so residents and golfers on the golf course behind his house can hear.

"I like to flood the area with music," he said.

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