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Title: Piano Mastery - Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers
Author: Brower, Harriette, 1869-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers
an Account of a Von Bülow Class, Hints on Interpretation, by Two
American Teachers (Dr. William Mason and William H. Sherwood) and a
Summary by the Author



Author of _The Art of the Pianist_

With Sixteen Portraits

Frederick A. Stokes Company
The Musical Observer Company


[Illustration: Photo Copyright By Marran IGNACE JAN PADEREWSKI]




ERNEST SCHELLING.....The Hand of a Pianist

ERNESTO CONSOLO.....Making the Piano a Musical Instrument

SIGISMOND STOJOWSKI.....Mind in Piano Study.

RUDOLPH GANZ.....Conserving Energy in Piano Practise

TINA LERNER.....An Audience the Best Teacher

ETHEL LEGINSKA.....Relaxation the Keynote of Modern Piano Playing

BERTHA FIERING TAPPER.....Mastering Piano Problems

CARL M. ROEDER.....Problems of Piano Teachers

KATHARINE GOODSON.....An Artist at Home

MARK HAMBOURG.....Form, Technic, and Expression

TOBIAS MATTHAY.....Watching the Artist Teacher at Work

HAROLD BAUER.....The Question of Piano Tone

RAOUL PUGNO.....Training the Child

THUEL BURNHAM.....The "Melody" and "Coloratura" Hand

EDWIN HUGHES.....Some Essentials of Piano Playing

FERRUCCIO BUSONI.....An Artist at Home

ADELE AUS DER OHE.....Another Artist at Home

ELEANOR SPENCER.....More Light on Leschetizky's Ideas

ARTHUR HOCHMAN.....How the Pianist Can Color Tone with Action and

TERESA CARREÑO.....Early Technical Training

WILHELM BACHAUS.....Technical Problems Discussed

ALEXANDER LAMBERT.....American and European Teachers

FANNIE BLOOMFIELD ZEISLER.....The Scope of Piano Technic

AGNES MORGAN.....Simplicity in Piano Teaching

EUGENE HEFFLEY.....Modern Tendencies

GERMAINE SCHNITZER.....Modern Methods in Piano Study

OSSIP GABRILOWITSCH.....Characteristic Touch on the Piano

HANS VON BÜLOW.....Teacher and Interpreter


POSTLUDE.....Vital Points in Piano Playing


Ignace Jan Paderewski

Sigismond Stojowski

Rudolph Ganz

Katharine Goodson

Mark Hambourg

Tobias Matthay

Harold Bauer

Raoul Pugno

Ferruccio Busoni

Eleanor Spencer

Teresa Carreño

Wilhelm Bachaus

Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler

Ossip Gabrilowitsch

Hans von Bülow

Dr. William Mason



The following "Talks" were obtained at the suggestion of the Editor of
_Musical America_, and have all, with one or two exceptions, appeared in
that paper. They were secured with the hope and intention of benefiting
the American teacher and student.

Requests have come from all over the country, asking that the interviews
be issued in book form. In this event it was the author's intention to
ask each artist to enlarge and add to his own talk. This, however, has
been practicable only in certain cases; in others the articles remain
very nearly as they at first appeared.

The summer of 1913 in Europe proved to be a veritable musical
pilgrimage, the milestones of which were the homes of the famous
artists, who generously gave of their time and were willing to discuss
their methods of playing and teaching.

The securing of the interviews has given the author satisfaction and
delight. She wishes to share both with the fellow workers of her own

The Talks are arranged in the order in which they were secured.





One of the most consummate masters of the piano at the present time is
Ignace Jan Paderewski. Those who were privileged to hear him during his
first season in this country will never forget the experience. The
Polish artist conquered the new world as he had conquered the old; his
name became a household word, known from coast to coast; he traveled
over our land, a Prince of Tones, everywhere welcomed and honored. Each
succeeding visit deepened the admiration in which his wonderful art was

The question has often been raised as to the reason of Paderewski's
remarkable hold on an audience; wherein lay his power over the musical
and unmusical alike. Whenever he played there was always the same
intense hush over the listeners, the same absorbed attention, the same
spell. The superficial attributed these largely to his appearance and
manner; the more thoughtful looked deeper. Here was a player who was a
thoroughly trained master in technic and interpretation; one who knew
his Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt. These things of
themselves would not hold an audience spellbound, for there were other
artists equally well equipped. In a final analysis it was doubtless
Paderewski's wonderful _piano tone_, so full of variety and color, so
vital with numberless gradations of light and shade, that charmed and
enthralled his listeners. It mattered to no one--save the critics--that
he frequently repeated the same works. What if we heard the Chromatic
Fantaisie a score of times? In his hands It became a veritable Soliloquy
on Life and Destiny, which each repetition invested with new meaning and
beauty. What player has ever surpassed his poetic conception of
Schumann's _Papillons_, or the Chopin Nocturnes, which he made veritable
dream poems of love and ecstasy. What listener has ever forgotten the
tremendous power and titanic effect of the Liszt Rhapsodies, especially
No. 2? When Paderewski first came to us, in the flush of his young
manhood, he taught us what a noble instrument the piano really is in the
hands of a consummate master. He showed us that he could make the piano
speak with the delicacy and power of a Rubinstein, but with more
technical correctness; he proved that he could pierce our very soul with
the intensity of his emotion, the poignant, heart-searching quality of
his tones, the poetry and beauty of his interpretation.

Paderewski is known as composer and pianist, only rarely does he find
time to give instruction on his instrument. Mme. Antoinette Szumowska,
the Polish pianist and lecturer was at one time termed his "only pupil."
Mr. Sigismond Stojowski, the Polish composer, pianist and teacher has
also studied with him. Both can testify as to his value as an

Mme. Szumowska says:

"Paderewski lays great stress on legato playing, and desires everything
to be studied slowly, with deep touch and with full, clear tone. For
developing strength he uses an exercise for which the hand is pressed
against the keyboard while the wrist remains very low and motionless and
each finger presses on a key, bringing, or drawing out as much tone as

"Paderewski advises studying scales and arpeggios with accents, for
instance, accenting every third note, thus enabling each finger in turn
to make the accent impulse: this will secure evenness of touch. Double
passages, such as double thirds and sixths, should be divided and each
half practised separately, with legato touch. Octaves should be
practised with loose wrists and staccato touch. As a preparatory study
practise with thumb alone. The thumb must always be kept curved, with
joints well rounded out; it should touch the keys with its tip, so as to
keep it on a level with the other fingers. Paderewski is very particular
about this point.

"It is difficult to speak of Paderewski's manner of teaching expression,
for here the ideas differ with each composer and with every composition.
As to tonal color, he requires all possible variety in tone production.
He likes strong contrasts, which are brought out, not only by variety of
touch but by skilful use of the pedals.

"My lessons with Paderewski were somewhat irregular. We worked together
whenever he came to Paris. Sometimes I did not see him for several
months, and then he would be in Paris for a number of weeks; at such
seasons we worked together very often. Frequently these lessons, which
were given in my cousin's house, began very late in the evening--around
ten o'clock--and lasted till midnight, or even till one in the morning.

"Paderewski the teacher is as remarkable as Paderewski the pianist. He
is very painstaking; his remarks are clear and incisive: he often
illustrates by playing the passage in question, or the whole
composition. He takes infinite trouble to work out each detail and bring
it to perfection. He is very patient and sweet tempered, though he can
occasionally be a little sarcastic. He often grows very enthusiastic
over his teaching, and quite forgets the lapse of time. In general,
however, he does not care to teach, and naturally has little time for

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Stojowski, when questioned in regard to his work with the Polish
pianist, said:

"Paderewski is a very remarkable teacher. There are teachers who attempt
to instruct pupils about what they do not understand, or cannot do
themselves: there are others who are able to do the thing, but are not
able to explain how they do it. Paderewski can both do it and explain
how it is done. He knows perfectly what effects he wishes to produce,
how they are to be produced, the causes which underlie and bring them
about; he can explain and demonstrate these to the pupil with the
greatest exactness and detail.

"As you justly remark the quality of tone and the variety of tonal
gradations are special qualities of Paderewski's playing. These must be
acquired by aid of the ear, which tests and judges each shade and
quality of tone. He counsels the student to listen to each tone he
produces, for quality and variety.


"The player, as he sits at the piano, his mind and heart filled with the
beauty of the music his fingers are striving to produce, vainly imagines
he is making the necessary effects. Paderewski will say to him: 'No
doubt you feel the beauty of this composition, but I hear none of the
effects you fancy you are making; you must deliver everything much more
clearly: distinctness of utterance is of prime importance.'' Then he
shows how clearness and distinctness may be acquired. The fingers must
be rendered firm, with no giving in at the nail joint. A technical
exercise which he gives, and which I also use in my teaching, trains the
fingers in up and down movements, while the wrist is held very low and
pressed against the keyboard. At first simple five-finger forms are
used; when the hand has become accustomed to this tonic, some of the
Czerny Op. 740 can be played, with the hand in this position. Great care
should be taken when using this principle, or lameness will result. A
low seat at the piano is a necessity for this practise; sitting low is
an aid to weight playing: we all know how low Paderewski himself sits at
the instrument.

"You ask what technical material is employed. Czerny, Op. 740; not
necessarily the entire opus; three books are considered sufficient. Also
Clementi's _Gradus_. Of course scales must be carefully studied, with
various accents, rhythms and tonal dynamics; arpeggios also. Many
arpeggio forms of value may be culled from compositions.

"There are, as we all know, certain fundamental principles that underlie
all correct piano study, though various masters may employ different
ways and means to exemplify these fundamentals. Paderewski studied with
Leschetizky and inculcates the principles taught by that master, with
this difference, that he adapts his instruction to the physique and
mentality of the student; whereas the Vorbereiters of Leschetizky
prepare all pupils along the same lines, making them go through a
similar routine, which may not in every instance be necessary.


"One point Paderewski is very particular about, and that is fingering.
He often carefully marks the fingering for a whole piece; once this is
decided upon it must be kept to. He believes in employing a fingering
which is most comfortable to the hand, as well as one which, in the long
run, will render the passage most effective. He is most sensitive to the
choice of fingering the player makes, and believes that each finger can
produce a different quality of tone. Once, when I was playing a
Nocturne, he called to me from the other end of the room: 'Why do you
always play that note with the fourth finger? I can _hear_ you do it;
the effect is bad,' He has a keen power of observation; he notices
little details which pass unheeded by most people; nothing escapes him.
This power, directed to music, makes him the most careful and
painstaking of teachers. At the same time, in the matter of fingering,
he endeavors to choose the one which can be most easily accomplished by
the player. The Von Bülow editions, while very erudite, are apt to be
laborious and pedantic; they show the German tendency to
over-elaboration, which, when carried too far becomes a positive fault.


"Another principle Paderewski considers very important is that of
appropriate motion. He believes in the elimination of every unnecessary
movement, yet he wishes the whole body free and supple. Motions should
be as carefully studied as other technical points. It is true he often
makes large movements of arm, but they are all thought out and have a
dramatic significance. He may lift the finger off a vehement staccato
note by quick up-arm motion, in a flash of vigorous enthusiasm; but the
next instant his hand is in quiet position for the following phrase.


"The intent listening I spoke of just now must be of vital assistance to
the player in his search for tonal variety and effect. Tone production
naturally varies according to the space which is to be filled. Greater
effort must be put forth in a large hall, to make the tone carry over
the footlights, to render the touch clear, the accents decisive and
contrasts pronounced. In order to become accustomed to these
conditions, the studio piano can be kept closed, and touch must
necessarily be made stronger to produce the desired power.


"A great artist's performance of a noble work ought to sound like a
spontaneous improvisation; the greater the artist the more completely
will this result be attained. In order to arrive at this result,
however, the composition must be dissected in minutest detail.
Inspiration comes with the first conception of the interpretation of the
piece. Afterward all details are painstakingly worked out, until the
ideal blossoms into the perfectly executed performance. Paderewski
endeavors uniformly to render a piece in the manner and spirit in which
he has conceived it. He relates that after one of his recitals, a lady
said to him:

"'Why, Mr. Paderewski, you did not play this piece the same as you did
when I heard you before,'

"'I assure you I intended to,' was the reply.

"'Oh, it isn't necessary to play it always the same way; you are not a
machine,' said the lady.

"This reply aroused his artist-nature.

"'It is just because I am an artist that I ought at all times to play
in the same way. I have thought out the conception of that piece, and am
in duty bound to express my ideal as nearly as possible each time I
perform it.'

"Paderewski instructs, as he does everything else, with magnificent
generosity. He takes no account of time. I would come to him for a
stipulated half-hour, but the lesson would continue indefinitely, until
we were both forced to stop from sheer exhaustion. I have studied with
him at various times. One summer especially stands out in my memory,
when I had a lesson almost every day."

Speaking of the rarely beautiful character of Paderewski's piano
compositions, Mr. Stojowski said:

"I feel that the ignorance of this music among piano teachers and
students is a crying shame. What modern piano sonata have we to-day, to
compare with his? I know of none. And the songs--are they not wonderful!
I love the man and his music so much that I am doing what lies in my
power to make these compositions better known. There is need of pioneer
work in this matter, and I am glad to do some of it."




As I sat in the luxurious salon of the apartments near the Park, where
Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Schelling were spending the winter, sounds of
vigorous piano practise floated out to me from a distant chamber. It was
unusual music, and seemed to harmonize with the somewhat Oriental
atmosphere and coloring of the music-room, with its heavily beamed
ceiling of old silver, its paintings and tapestries.

The playing ceased and soon the artist appeared, greeting the visitor
with genial friendliness of manner. He was accompanied by the "lord of
the manor," a beautiful white bull terrier, with coat as white as snow.
This important personage at once curled himself up in the most
comfortable arm-chair, a quiet, profound observer of all that passed. In
the midst of some preliminary chat, the charming hostess entered and
poured tea for us.

The talk soon turned upon the subject in which I was deeply
interested--the technical training of a pianist.

"Technic is such an individual matter," began Mr. Schelling; "for it
depends on so many personal things: the physique, the mentality, the
amount of nervous energy one has, the hand and wrist. Perhaps the
poorest kind of hand for the piano is the long narrow one, with long
fingers. Far better to have a short, broad one with short fingers. Josef
Hofmann has a wonderful hand for the piano; rather small, yes, but so
thick and muscular. The wrist, too, is a most important factor. Some
pianists have what I call a 'natural wrist,' that is they have a natural
control of it; it is no trouble for them to play octaves, for instance.
Mme. Carreño has that kind of wrist; she never had difficulty with
octaves, they are perfect, Hofmann also has a marvelous wrist. I am
sorry to say I have not that kind of wrist, and therefore have been much
handicapped on that account. For I have had to work tremendously to
develop not only the wrist but the whole technic. You see I was a wonder
child, and played a great deal as a small boy. Then from fifteen to
twenty I did not practise anything like what I ought to have done. That
is the period when the bones grow, muscles develop--everything grows.
Another thing against me is the length of my fingers. When the fingers
are longer than the width of the hand across the knuckle joint, it is
not an advantage but a detriment. The extra length of finger is only so
much dead weight that the hand has to lift. This is another disadvantage
I have had to work against. Yes, as you say, it is a rather remarkable
hand in regard to size and suppleness. But I hardly agree that it is
like Liszt's; more like Chopin's, judging from the casts I have seen of
his hand.

"As for technical routine, of course I play scales a good deal and in
various ways. When I 'go into training,' I find the best means to attain
velocity is to work with the metronome. One can't jump at once into the
necessary agility, and the metronome is a great help in bringing one up
to the right pitch. You see by the firmness of these muscles at the back
and thumb side of my hand, that I am in good trim now; but one soon
loses this if one lets up on the routine.

"Then I practise trills of all kinds, and octaves. Yes, I agree that
octaves are a most necessary and important factor in the player's
technical equipment."

Going to the piano and illustrating as he talked, Mr. Schelling

"Merely flopping the hand up and down, as many do, is of little use--it
does not lead to strength or velocity. As you see, I hold the hand
arched and very firm, and the firmness is in the fingers as well; the
hand makes up and down movements with loose wrist; the result is a full,
bright, crisp tone. One can play these octaves slowly, using weight, or
faster with crisp, staccato touch. I play diatonic or chromatic octave
scales, with four repetitions or more, on each note--using fourth finger
for black keys.

"I sit low at the piano, as I get better results in this way; though it
is somewhat more difficult to obtain them. I confess it is easier to sit
high and bear down on the hands. Yes, I thoroughly approve of 'weight
touch,' and it is the touch I generally use. Sometimes it is a certain
pressure on the key after it is played, using arm weight.

"Ah, you are right. The young teacher or player, in listening to the
artist, and noticing he does not lift his fingers to any extent, and
that he always plays with weight, hastily concludes these are the
principles with which he must begin to study or teach the piano. It is
a mistake to begin in that way. Very exact finger movements must be
learned in the beginning. As I said before, technic is such an
individual matter, that after the first period of foundational training,
one who has the desire to become an artist, must work out things for
himself. There should be no straight-laced methods. Only a few general
rules can be laid down, such as will fit most cases. The player who
would rise to any distinction must work out his own salvation.

"In regard to memorizing piano music, it may be said this can be
accomplished in three ways: namely, with the eye, with the ear, and with
the hand. For example: I take the piece and read it through with the
eye, just as I would read a book. I get familiar with the notes in this
way, and see how they look in print. I learn to know them so well that I
have a mental photograph of them, and if necessary could recall any
special measure or phrase so exactly that I could write it. All this
time my mental ear has been hearing those notes, and is familiar with
them. Then the third stage arrives; I must put all this on the keyboard,
my fingers must have their training; impressions must pass from the mind
to the fingers; then all is complete."




In a long conversation with Ernesto Consolo, the eminent pianist and
instructor, many points of vital importance to the player and teacher
were touched upon. Among other things Mr. Consolo said:

"It is absolutely necessary that the piano teacher should take his
profession very seriously. In my opinion there is most excellent
instruction to be secured right here in America, with such teachers as
are willing to take their work seriously. The time is not far away, I
think, when America will enjoy a very prominent position in the matter
of musical instruction, and perhaps lead the world in musical
advantages. The time is not here just yet, but it is surely coming. You
are still young in this country, though you are wonderfully progressive.

"If I have spoken of the serious aims of many teachers of piano, I
cannot say as much for the students: they are often superficial and want
to go too quickly; they are apt to be in a hurry and want to make a
show, without being willing to spend the necessary years on preparation.
No art can be hurried. Students of painting, sculpture, architecture or
music must all learn the technique of their art; they must all learn to
go deep into the mysteries and master technic as the means to the end,
and no one requires exhaustive preparation more than the executive
musician. The person who would fence, box or play baseball must know the
technic of these things; how much more must the pianist be master of the
technique of his instrument if he would bring out the best results.

"At the very bottom and heart of this subject of mastery lies
Concentration: without that, little of value can be accomplished.
Students think if they sit at the piano and 'practise' a certain number
of hours daily, it is sufficient. A small portion of that time, if used
with intense concentration, will accomplish more. One player will take
hours to learn a page or a passage which another will master in a
fraction of the time. What is the difference? It may be said one has
greater intelligence than the other. The greater the intelligence, the
stronger the power of concentration.

"If a pupil comes to me whose powers of concentration have not been
awakened or developed, I sometimes give him music to read over very
slowly, so slowly that every note, phrase and finger mark can be
distinctly seen. Not being used to thinking intently, mistakes occur, in
one hand or the other, showing that the mind was not sufficiently
concentrated. It is the mind every time that wins. Without using our
mental powers to their fullest extent we fail of the best that is in us.

"In regard to technical equipment and routine, I do different work with
each pupil, for each pupil is different. No two people have the same
hands, physique or mentality; so why should they all be poured into the
same mold? One student, for example, has splendid wrists and not very
good fingers. Why should I give him the same amount of wrist practise
that I give his brother who has feeble wrists; it would only be a waste
of time. Again, a pupil with limited ideas of tonal quality and dynamics
is advised to study tone at the piano in some simple melody of Schubert
or Chopin, trying to realize a beautiful tone--playing it in various
ways until such a quality Is secured. The piano is a responsive
instrument and gives back what you put into it. If you attack it with a
hard touch, it will respond with a harsh tone. It rests with you whether
the piano shall be a musical instrument or not.

"A student who comes to me with a very poor touch must of course go back
to first principles and work up. Such an one must learn correct
movements and conditions of hands, arms and fingers; and these can be
acquired at a table. Along with these, however, I would always give some
simple music to play, so that the tonal and musical sense shall not be

"Of course I advise comprehensive scale practise; scales in all keys and
in various rhythms and touches. There is an almost endless variety of
ways to play scales. Those in double thirds and sixths I use later,
after the others are under control. Arpeggios are also included in this
scale practise.

"I have said that Concentration is the keynote of piano mastery. Another
principle which goes hand in hand with it is Relaxation. Unless this
condition is present in arms, wrist and shoulders, the tone will be hard
and the whole performance constrained and unmusical. There is no need
of having tired muscles or those that feel strained or painful. If this
condition arises it is proof that there is stiffness, that relaxation
has not taken place. I can sit at the piano and play _forte_ for three
hours at a time and not feel the least fatigue in hands and arms.
Furthermore, the playing of one who is relaxed, who knows how to use his
anatomy, will not injure the piano. We must remember the piano is a
thing of joints; the action is so delicately adjusted that it moves with
absolute freedom and ease. The player but adds another joint, which
should equal in ease and adjustment the ones already there. On the other
hand a person with stiff joints and rigid muscles, thumping ragtime on a
good piano, can ruin it in a week; whereas under the fingers of a player
who understands the laws of relaxation, it would last for many years.

"This principle of relaxation is exemplified in the athlete, baseball
player, and others. They have poise and easy adjustment in every part of
the body: they never seem to fall into strained or stiff attitudes, nor
make angular or stiff movements. Arms, shoulders, wrists and fingers are
all relaxed and easy. The pianist needs to study these principles as
well as the athlete, I believe in physical exercises to a certain
extent. Light-weight dumb-bells can be used; it is surprising how light
a weight is sufficient to accomplish the result. But it must be one
movement at a time, exercising one muscle at a time, and not various
muscles at once.

"For memorizing piano music I can say I have no method whatever. When I
know the piece technically or mechanically, I know it by heart. I really
do not know when the memorizing takes place. The music is before me on
the piano; I forget to turn the pages, and thus find I know the piece.
In playing with orchestra I know the parts of all instruments, unless it
be just a simple chord accompaniment; it would not interest me to play
with orchestra and not know the music in this way. On one occasion I was
engaged to play the Sgambatti concerto, which I had not played for some
time. I tried it over on the piano and found I could not remember it. My
first idea was to get out the score and go over it; the second was to
try and recall the piece from memory. I tried the latter method, with
the result that in about three hours and a half I had the whole concerto
back in mind. I played the work ten days later without having once
consulted the score. This goes to prove that memory must be absolute and
not merely mechanical.

"Students think they cannot memorize, when it would be quite easy if
they would apply themselves in the right way. I ask them to look
intently at a small portion, two measures, or even one, and afterward to
play it without looking at the notes. Of course, as you say, this can be
done away from the piano; the notes can even be recited; but there are
other signs and marks to be considered and remembered, so when one can
be at the piano I consider it better.

"Piano playing is such an individual and complex thing. I do not require
nor expect my pupils to play as I do, nor interpret as I interpret, for
then I would only see just so many replicas of myself, and their
individuality would be lost. I often hear them play a composition in a
different way and with a different spirit from the one I find in it. But
I don't say to them, 'That is wrong; you must play it as I do,' No, I
let them play it as they see and feel it, so long as there is no sin
against artistic taste.

"I trust these few points will be helpful to both player and teacher.
The latter needs all the encouragement we artists can give, for in most
cases he is doing a good work.

"Volumes might be added to these hurried remarks, but for that my time
is too limited."




Mr. Sigismond Stojowski, the eminent Polish pianist and composer, was
found one morning in his New York studio, at work with a gifted pupil.
He was willing to relax a little, however, and have a chat on such
themes as might prove helpful to both teacher and student.

"You ask me to say something on the most salient points in piano
technic; perhaps we should say, the points that are most important to
each individual; for no two students are exactly alike, nor do any two
see things in precisely the same light. This is really a psychological
matter. I believe the subject of psychology is a very necessary study
for both teacher and student. We all need to know more about mental
processes than we do. I am often asked how to memorize, for instance--or
the best means for doing this; another psychological process. I
recommend students to read William James' _Talks on Psychology_; a very
helpful book.

"The most vital thing in piano playing is to learn to think. Has it ever
occurred to you what infinite pains people will take to avoid thinking?
They will repeat a technical illustration hundreds of times it may be,
but with little or no thought directed to the performance. Such work is
absolutely useless. Perhaps that is a little too strong. With countless
repetitions there may at last come to be a little improvement, but it
will be very small.

"There is quite a variety of views as to what the essentials of piano
technic are; this is a subject on which teachers, unluckily, do not
agree. For instance, on the point of finger lifting there is great
diversity of opinion. Some believe in raising the fingers very high,
others do not. Lifting the fingers high is not good for the tone, though
it may be used for velocity playing. I use quite the reverse where I
wish beautiful, singing, tone quality. The young pupil, at the
beginning, must of course learn to raise fingers and make precise
movements; when greater proficiency is reached, many modifications of
touch are used. That the best results are not more often obtained in
piano teaching and study, is as much the fault of the teacher as the
pupil. The latter is usually willing to be shown and anxious to learn.
It is for the teacher to correctly diagnose the case and administer the
most efficient remedy.

[Illustration: To Miss Harriett Brower with the kindest of remembrances,
Sigismond Stojowski New York, April 1913]


"There is a certain amount of what I might call 'natural technic'
possessed by every one--some one point which is easy for him. It Is
often the trill. It has frequently come under my notice that players
with little facility in other ways, can make a good trill. Some singers
have this gift; Mme. Melba is one who never had to study a trill, for
she was born with a nightingale in her throat. I knew a young man in
London who was evidently born with an aptitude for octaves. He had
wonderful wrists, and could make countless repetitions of the octave
without the least fatigue. He never had to practise octaves, they came
to him naturally.

"The teacher's work is both corrective and constructive. He must see
what is wrong and be able to correct it. Like a physician, he should
find the weak and deficient parts and build them up. He should have some
remedy at his command that will fit the needs of each pupil.

"I give very few études, and those I administer in homeopathic doses. It
is not necessary to play through a mass of études to become a good
pianist. Much of the necessary technic may be learned from the pieces
themselves, though scales and arpeggios must form part of the daily


"In keeping a large number of pieces in mind, I may say that the pianist
who does much teaching is in a sense taught by his pupils. I have many
advanced pupils, and in teaching their repertoire I keep up my own. Of
course after a while one grows a little weary of hearing the same pieces
rendered by students; the most beautiful no longer seem fresh. My own
compositions are generally exceptions, as I do not often teach those. To
the thoughtful teacher, the constant hearing of his repertoire by
students shows him the difficulties that younger players have to
encounter, and helps him devise means to aid them to conquer these
obstacles. At the same time there is this disadvantage: the pianist
cannot fail to remember the places at which such and such a student had
trouble, forgot or stumbled. This has happened to me at various times.
In my recitals I would be playing ahead, quite unconscious that anything
untoward could occur--wholly absorbed in my work; when, at a certain
point, the recollection would flash over me--this is where such or such
a pupil stumbled. The remembrance is sometimes so vivid that I am at
some effort to keep my mental balance and proceed with smoothness and

"Yes, I go over my pieces mentally, especially if I am playing an
entirely new program which I have never played before; otherwise I do
not need to do so much of it.


"You suggest that a composer may fill in or make up a passage, should he
forget a portion of the piece when playing in public. True; but
improvising on a well-known work is rather a dangerous thing to do in
order to improve a bad case. Apropos of this, I am reminded of an
incident which occurred at one of my European recitals. It was a wholly
new program which I was to give at Vevay. I had been staying with
Paderewski, and went from Morges to Vevay, to give the recital. In my
room at the hotel I was mentally reviewing the program, when in a
Mendelssohn Fugue, I found I had forgotten a small portion. I could
remember what went before and what came after, but this particular
passage had seemingly gone. I went down to the little parlor and tried
the fugue on the piano, but could not remember the portion in question.
I hastened back to my room and constructed a bridge which should connect
the two parts. When the time came to play the fugue at the recital, it
all went smoothly till I was well over the weak spot, which, it seems, I
really played as Mendelssohn wrote it. As I neared the last page, the
question suddenly occurred to me, what had I done with that doubtful
passage? What had really happened I could not remember; and the effort
to recall whether I had played Mendelssohn or Stojowski nearly brought
disaster to that last page.

"As soon as my season closes here I shall go to London and bring out my
second piano concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, under Nikisch.
I shall also play various recitals."

It was my good fortune to be present at the orchestral concert at
Queen's Hall, when Mr. Stojowski was the soloist. It was pleasant to
see the enthusiasm aroused by the concerto itself, and the performance
of it by the artist.




[Illustration: Rudolph Ganz]

"One of the most necessary things is the conserving of vital energy in
piano practise," said the pianist Rudolph Ganz to me one day. "The wrong
way is to continually practise the piece as though you were playing it
in public--that is to say, with all possible energy and emotion. Some of
the pianists now before the public do this, and it always makes me sorry
for them, for I know what a needless waste of energy and vital force it
is. An actor, studying his lines, does not need to continually shout
them in order to learn how they should be interpreted. Neither does the
lyric actress practise her roles with full tones, for she is well used
to saving her voice. Why then should the pianist exhaust himself and
give out his whole strength merely in the daily routine of practise? I
grant this principle of saving one's self may not be easy to learn, but
it should be acquired by all players, great and small. I think a
pianist should be able to practise five or six hours daily without
fatigue. If the player is accustomed to husband his vital force during
the daily routine of practise, he can play a long, exacting program in
public without weariness. In every day practise one often does not need
to play _forte_ nor use the pedals; a tone of medium power is
sufficient. Suppose, for instance, you are studying the Chopin Étude Op.
10, No. 12, with the left hand arpeggio work. Every note and finger must
be in place, every mark of phrasing obeyed; but during practise hours
you need not give the piece all its dashing vigor and bravura at every
repetition. Such a course would soon exhaust the player. Yet every
effect you wish to make must be thoroughly studied, must be in mind, and
used at intervals whenever a complete performance of the piece is

"As I said before, it is often difficult to control the impulse to 'let
loose,' if the work is an exciting one. At a recent rehearsal with the
Symphony Orchestra, I told the men I would quietly run through the
concerto I was to play, merely indicating the effects I wanted. We
began, but in five minutes I found myself playing with full force and

"In regard to methods in piano study there seems to be a diversity of
opinion, resulting, I think, from the various ways of touching the
keys--some players using the tip and others the ball of the finger.
Busoni may be cited as one who employs the end of the finger--Pauer
also; while the Frenchman, Cortôt, who has an exquisite tone, plays with
the hand almost flat on the keys, a method which certainly insures
weight of hand and arm. Of course players generally, and teachers also,
agree on the employment of arm weight in playing. The principles of
piano technic are surely but few. Was it not Liszt who said: 'Play the
right key with the right finger, the right tone and the right
intention--that is all!' It seems to me piano technic has been pushed to
its limit, and there must be a reversal; we may return to some of the
older methods of touch and technic.

"The vital thing in piano playing is to bring out the composer's
meaning, plus your own inspiration and feeling. You must study deeply
into the composer's idea, but you must also put your own feeling,
intensity and emotion into the piece. And not only must you feel the
meaning yourself, but you must play it in a way to touch others. There
are many pianists who are not cultured musicians; who think they know
their Beethoven because they can play a few sonatas. In music 'knowledge
is power.' We need all possible knowledge, but we also need to feel the
inspiration. One of the greatest teachers of our time holds that
personal inspiration is not necessary; for the feeling is all in the
music itself. All we have to do is to play with such and such a dynamic
quality of tone. Like a country doctor measuring out his drugs, this
master apportions so many grains of power for _forte_, for _mezzo_, for
_piano_, and so on. This plan puts a damper on individuality and
enthusiasm, for it means that everything must be coldly calculated. Such
playing does not really warm the heart.

"I believe in teaching tonal contrasts and tone color even to a
beginner. Why should not the child form a concept of _forte_ and
_piano_, and so get away from the deadly monotony of _mezzo_? I have
written some little descriptive piano pieces, and my small boy learned
one of them to play for me. There is a closing phrase like this," and
Mr. Ganz illustrated at the piano; "it is to be played _forte_, and is
followed by a few notes to be touched very softly, like an echo. It was
really beautiful to see how the little fellow reached out for the pedal
to make the loud part more emphatic, and then played the echo very
softly and neatly. He had grasped the first principle of tone
color--namely tone contrast, and also a poetic idea.

"There are so many wonder children in these days, and many marvels are
accomplished by infant prodigies. Very often however, these wonder
children develop no further; they fail to fulfil their early promise, or
the expectations held of them.

"A youthful wonder in the field of composition is Eric Korngold, whose
piano sonata I played in my New York recital. I have played this work
eight times in all, during my present tour, often by request. To me it
is most interesting. I cannot say it is logical in the development of
its ideas; it often seems as though the boy threw in chords here and
there with no particular reason. Thus the effort of memorizing is
considerable, for I must always bear in mind that this C major chord has
a C sharp in it, or that such and such a chord is changed into a most
unusual one. One cannot predict whether the boy will develop further. As
you say, Mozart was an infant prodigy, but if we judge from the first
little compositions that have been preserved, he began very simply and
worked up, whereas Korngold begins at Richard Strauss. His compositions
are full of the influence of Strauss. The critics have much to say for
and against these early works. I do not know the young composer
personally, though he has written me. In a recent letter which I have
here, he expresses the thought that, though the critics have found many
things to disapprove of in the sonata, the fact that I have found it
worth studying and bringing out more than compensates him for all
adverse criticism. To make the work known in the great musical centers
of America is surely giving it wide publicity."

On a later occasion, Mr. Ganz said:

"I thoroughly believe in preserving one's enthusiasm for modern music,
even though, at first glance, it does not attract one, or indeed seems
almost impossible. I enjoy studying new works, and learning what is the
modern trend of thought in piano work; it keeps me young and buoyant.

"One of the novelties lately added to my repertoire is the Haydn sonata
in D. On the same program I place the Korngold sonata. A hundred years
and more divide the two works. While I revere the old, it interests me
to keep abreast of the new thought in musical art and life."




Between the many engagements that crowded upon the close of her long
American tour, Miss Tina Lerner found time to talk over certain topics
of significance which bear upon pianistic problems.

We began by referring to the different methods of holding the hands,
moving the fingers and touching the keys, as exemplified by the various
pianists now before the public.

"It is true that I play with the ball of the finger on the key, which
necessitates a flat position of hand, with low wrist." Here the pianist
illustrated the point by playing several pearly scales with straight,
outstretched fingers. "I never realized, however, that I played in this
way, until Mr. Ernest Hutcheson, the pianist, of Baltimore, recently
called my attention to it. The fact is, I have always taken positions of
body, arms, hands and fingers, which seemed to me the most natural and
easy. This I did when I began, at the age of five, and I have always
kept to them, in spite of what various teachers have endeavored to do
for me. Fortunately my early teachers were sensible and careful; they
kept me at the classics, and did not give too difficult pieces. The
principles followed by most great pianists I believe are correct; but I
have always kept to my own natural way. In hand position, therefore, I
am individual; perhaps no one else plays with such a finger position, so
in this I am unique.

"For some reason unknown to me, it has come to be imagined that I have
studied with Leschetizky; this is entirely refuted when I say I have
never been in Vienna. It seems we are getting away from the idea of
helping ourselves out with the name of some great teacher. The question
should be: What has the player in himself, what can he accomplish? not,
Whose pupil is he? We know of some of Leschetizky's famous pupils, but
we never hear of the thousands he must have had, who have come to
nothing. A teacher can only do a certain amount for you; he can give you
new ideas, which each pupil works out for himself in his own way. The
piano student learns from so many different sources. He attends a piano
recital and acquires many ideas of touch, tone, phrasing and
interpretation; he hears a great singer or violinist and absorbs a
wholly new set of thoughts, or he listens to a grand orchestra, and
gains more than from all the others. Then there is life to study from:
experience--living--loving: all go into the work of the musician. A
musical career is indeed the most exacting one that can be chosen.

"I have been asked whether I prefer to play for an audience of
'music-lovers' or one of 'music knowers.' Perhaps an equal mixture is
the happy medium. Of the two sorts it seems to me the music-knowers are
preferable, for even if they are very critical, they also recognize the
various points you make; they see and appreciate what you are striving
for. They are not inclined to say, 'I don't like such or such a player';
for the music-knower understands the vast amount of time and energy,
labor and talent that go to make a pianist. He rather says, 'I prefer
the playing of such or such an artist.' The word 'like' in connection
with a great artist seems almost an affront. What does it matter if his
work is not 'liked' by some? He knows it can stand for what it is--the
utmost perfection of his powers--of himself. And after all the audience
is the greatest teacher an artist can have; I have learned more from
this teacher than from any other. In this school I learn what moves and
touches an audience; how to improve this or that passage; how to make a
greater climax here, or more sympathetic coloring there. For in
conceiving how a work should sound, I get--in my study of it--a general
idea of the whole, and make it as nearly perfect as I am able. But it
has to be tested and tried--an audience must pass its opinion--must set
the seal of approval upon it. When the work has been polished by
repeated trials in this school, interpretation then becomes crystallized
in the mind and the piece can always be given in nearly the same way. A
painter does not change nor repaint his picture each time he exhibits
it; why need the musician change his idea of the interpretation at each
repetition? To trust too much to the inspiration of the moment might
injure the performance as a whole. When I have my ideal of the
interpretation worked out in mind, it becomes my sacred duty to play it
always in this spirit--always to give my best. I can never think that
because I am playing in Boston or New York, I must strive harder for
perfection than if I play in a little town. No, I must give the highest
that is in me, no matter where it may be. People sometimes ask me if I
am nervous before a recital. It is not that I am afraid of people; but I
am always anxious about being able to realize my ideal, when the moment

"I can say I prefer playing in America to anywhere else in the world;
for there are more real appreciation and understanding here than in any
other country. Of course the great music centers all over the world are
about the same; but the difference lies in the smaller cities, which in
America are far more advanced musically than in Europe. I have proved
this to be the case repeatedly. Not long ago I was booked for a couple
of recitals in a small town of not more than two thousand inhabitants.
When I arrived at the little place, and saw the barn of a hotel, I
wondered what these people could want with piano recitals. But when I
came to the college where I was to play and found such a large,
intelligent audience gathered, some of whom had traveled many miles to
be present, it proved in what estimation music was held. The teacher of
this school was a good musician, who had studied nine years with
Leschetizky, in Vienna; the pupils understood the numbers on the
program, were wide awake, and well informed as to what was going on in
the world of music.

"One handicap the present day pianist encounters, who plays much with
orchestra, and that is the dearth of modern concertos. The familiar ten
or dozen famous ones are played over and over, and one seldom hears
anything new. There are new ones written, to be sure, but the public has
not learned to care for them. The beautiful second concerto of
Rachmaninoff has not made a success, even in the great music centers,
where the most intelligent audiences have heard it. I believe that if an
audience of the best musicians could be assembled in a small room and
this work could be played to them, they could not fail to be impressed
with its beauties. I am now studying a new concerto by Haddon Wood,
which you see in manuscript there on the piano; it is one I find very

A subsequent conversation with the artist elicited the following:

"I might say that I began my music when about four years old, by playing
the Russian National Hymn, on a toy piano containing eight keys, which
had been given me. My older sister, who was studying the piano, noticed
this, showed me a few things about the notes, and I constantly picked
out little tunes and pieces on the real piano. Finally one day my
sister's teacher, Rudolph Heim, came to the house, mainly on my account.
This was in Odessa, in the south of Russia, where I was born and where I
spent my early years. On this occasion, he wanted to look at me and see
what I could do. Unluckily a sudden fit of shyness overcame me and I
began to cry; the exhibition could not take place, as nothing could be
made out of me that day. You see I was headstrong even at that early
age," said the young pianist, with one of her charming smiles.

"Soon after this incident, I was taken to the Professor's studio. He
examined me, considered I had talent, and thought it should be
cultivated. So he took me in hand. I was then five, and my real musical
education began at that time.

"From the very first I adopted a position of hand which seemed to me
most convenient and comfortable, and no amount of contrary instruction
and advice has ever been able to make me change it. I play scales and
passages with low hand and flat fingers because that position seems the
most favorable for my hand. When practising, I play everything very
slowly, raising my fingers high and straight from the knuckle joint.
This gives me great clearness and firmness. In rapid passage work the
action is reduced, but the position remains. I am said to have a clear,
pearly touch, with quite sufficient power at my command for large works.

"After five years of study with my first teacher, Rudolph Heim, a pupil
of Moscheles, I entered the Moscow Conservatory, and continued my
studies under Professor Pabst, brother and teacher of the composer of
that name. I was then ten years old. Professor Pabst was very
conservative, very strict, and kept me at work on the music of the older
masters. This kind of music suits me, I think; at least I enjoy it. Even
here I still clung to my ideas of holding my hands and of touching the
keys, and always expect to do so.

"I remained with this professor about six years and then began my public

"You ask about my present studies, and how I regulate my practise.
During my periods of rest from concert work, I practise a great deal--I
wish I could say all the time, but that is not quite possible. I give an
hour or more a day to technical practise. As to the material, I use
Chopin's Études constantly, playing them with high-raised, outstretched
fingers, in very slow tempo. One finds almost every technical problem
illustrated in these études; octaves, arpeggios, scales in double thirds
and sixths, repeated notes, as in number 7, broken chords and passage
work. I keep all these études in daily practise, also using some of the
Liszt _Études Transcendantes_, and, of course, Bach. The advantage of
using this sort of material is that one never tires of it; it is always
interesting and beautiful. With this material well in hand, I am always
ready for recital, and need only to add special pieces and modern music.

"In learning a new work I first study it very slowly, trying to become
familiar with its meaning. I form my concept of it and _live_ with it
for months before I care to bring it forward. I try to form an ideal
conception of the piece, work this out in every detail, then always
endeavor to render it as closely like the ideal as possible."




The brilliant young pianist, Ethel Leginska, who is located for a time
in America, was seen in her Carnegie Hall studio, on her return from a
concert tour. The young English girl is a petite brunette; her face is
very expressive, her manner at once vivacious and serious. The firm
muscles of her fine, shapely hands indicate that she must spend many
hours daily at the keyboard.

"Yes, I have played a great deal in public--all my life, in fact--ever
since I was six. I began my musical studies at Hull, where we lived; my
first teacher was a pupil of McFarren. Later I was taken to London,
where some rich people did a great deal for me. Afterward I went to
Leschetizky, and was with him several years, until I was sixteen; I also
studied in Berlin. Then I began my career, and concertized all over
Europe; now I am in America for a time. I like it here; I am fond of
your country already.

"The piano is such a wonderful instrument to me; I feel we are only
beginning to fathom its possibilities; not in a technical sense, but as
a big avenue for expression. For me the piano is capable of reflecting
every mood, every feeling; all pathos, joy, sorrow--the good and the
evil too--all there is in life, all that one has lived." (This recalls a
recently published remark of J. S. Van Cleve: "The piano can sing, march,
dance, sparkle, thunder, weep, sneer, question, assert, complain,
whisper, hint; in one word it is the most versatile and plastic of

"As for the technic of the piano, I think of it only as the
material--only as a means to an end. In fact I endeavor to get away from
the thought of the technical material, in order that I may get at the
meaning of the music I wish to interpret. I am convinced there is a
great future for the piano and its music. Even now we are taking piano
music very seriously, and are trying to interpret it in a far deeper and
broader sense than the pianists of, say, fifty years ago ever thought of
doing. I fancy if Clara Schumann, for instance, could return and play
to us, or even Liszt himself, we should not find their playing suited to
this age at all. Some of us yet remember the hand position Mme. Schumann
had, the lack of freedom in fingers and arms. It was not the fashion of
her time to play with the relaxed freedom, with the breadth and depth of
style which we demand of artists to-day. In those days relaxation had
not received the attention it deserved, therefore we should probably
find the playing of the greatest artists of a former generation stiff
and angular, in spite of all we have heard of their wonderful

"Relaxation is a hobby with me; I believe in absolute freedom in every
part of the arm anatomy, from the shoulder down to the finger-tips.
Stiffness seems to me the most reprehensible thing in piano playing, as
well as the most common fault with all kinds of players. When people
come to play for me, that is the thing I see first in them, the
stiffness. While living in Berlin, I saw much of Mme. Teresa Carreño,
and she feels the same as I do about relaxation, not only at the
keyboard, but when sitting, moving about or walking. She has thought
along this line so constantly, that sometimes, if carrying something in
hand, she will inadvertently let it drop, without realizing it--from
sheer force of the habit of relaxation.

"You ask how I would begin with a young pupil who never has had lessons.
I use the principle of relaxation first of all, loosening arms and
wrists. This principle can be taught to the youngest pupil. The wrist is
elevated and lowered, as the hand is formed on the keys in its five
finger position, with arched knuckles. It does not take long to acquire
this relaxed condition; then come the finger movements. I do not believe
in lifting the fingers high above the keys; this takes time and
interferes with velocity and power. I lift my fingers but little above
the keys, yet I have plenty of power, all the critics agree on that. In
chords and octaves I get all the power I need by grasping the keys with
weight and pressure. I do not even prepare the fingers in the air,
before taking the chord; I do not find it necessary." Here the pianist
played a succession of ringing chords, whose power and tonal quality
bore out her words; the fingers seemed merely to press and cling; there
was no striking nor percussion.

"To return to the beginning pupil. As for a book to start with, I often
use the one by Damm, though any foundational work may be employed, so
long as correct principles are taught. It is said by Leschetizky that he
has no method. That may be understood to mean a book, for he certainly
has what others would call a method. There are principles and various
sets of exercises to be learned; but it is quite true that none of the
Vorbereiters use a book.

"In teaching the piano, as you know, every pupil is different; each has
his or her own peculiar hand, and a different degree of intelligence. So
each pupil must be treated differently. This is really an advantage to
the teacher; for it would be very monotonous if all pupils were alike.

"The piano is such a revealer of character; I need only to hear a person
play to know what sort of character he has. If one is inclined to much
careful detail in everything, it comes out in the playing. If one is
indolent and indifferent, it is seen the moment one touches the keys; or
if one is built on broad, generous lines, and sees the dramatic point in
life and things, all this is revealed at the piano.

"To refer again to the subject of finger action. I do not believe in the
so-called finger stroke; on the contrary I advocate fingers close to the
keys, clinging to them whenever you can. This is also Arthur Schnabel's
idea. You should hear Schnabel; all Berlin is wild over him, and
whenever he gives a concert the house is sold out. He has quantities of
pupils also, and is quite a remarkable teacher. One point I insist upon
which he doesn't: I will not allow the joint of the finger next the tip
to break or give in. I can not stand that, but Schnabel doesn't seem to
care about it; his mind is filled with only the big, broad things of

"In regard to memorizing piano compositions. I do it phrase by phrase,
and at the instrument, unless I am traveling or unable to get to a
piano, in which case I think it out from the notes. If the piece is very
difficult I take a short passage of two or three measures and play each
hand separately and then together; but generally I play the passage
complete--say half a dozen times with the notes, and then repeat it the
same number of times from memory. Perhaps the next day I have forgotten
it, so the work has to be done over again; the second time, however, it
generally sticks.

"My great longing and ambition is to write music, to become a composer.
With this end in view, I give whatever time I am able to the study of
composition. I hope some day to create something that will be worthy the
high aim I have before me."




If environment and atmosphere are inspirational aids to piano teaching
and playing, the students of Mrs. Thomas Tapper have the incentives of
both in their lesson hours. Her apartments on the Drive have the glory
of sunlight all the long afternoons. Outside the Hudson shimmers in blue
and gold; indoors all is harmonious and home-like. In the large
music-room, facing the river, two grand pianos stand side by side; there
are many portraits and mementoes of the great in music; fresh flowers,
books--everything to uplift thought; while in the midst of it all is
Mrs. Tapper herself, the serious, high-minded, inspiring teacher; the
"mother confessor" to a large number of young artists and teachers.

"Music study means so much more than merely exercising the fingers," she
said; "the student should have a good all-round education. When young
people come to me for instruction, I ask what they are doing in school.
If they say they have left school in order to devote their whole time to
the piano, I say, 'Go back to your school, and come to me later, when
you have finished your school course.' It is true that in rare cases it
may be advisable for the student to leave school, but he should then
pursue general or special studies at home. I often wish the music
student's education in this country could be arranged as it is in at
least one of the great music schools in Russia. There the mornings are
given to music, while general studies are taken up later in the day. It
is really a serious problem, here in America, this fitting in music with
other studies. Both public and private schools try to cover so much
ground that there is very little time left for music or anything else.
The music pupil also needs to know musical literature, history and
biography, to be familiar with the lives and writings of the great
composers. Take the letters and literary articles of Robert Schumann,
for instance. How interesting and inspiring they are!

"In regard to methods in piano study my principles are based wholly upon
my observations of Leschetizky's work with me personally, or with
others. What I know he has taught me; what I have achieved I owe to
him. My first eight weeks in Vienna were spent in learning, first, to
control position and condition of hands and arms according to the law of
balance; secondly, to direct each motion with the utmost accuracy and
speed. To accomplish this I began with the most elementary exercises in
five-finger position, using one finger at a time. Then came the
principles of the scale, arpeggios, chords and octaves. All these things
were continued until every principle was mastered. I practised at first
an hour a day, then increased the amount as my hands grew stronger and
the number of exercises increased.

"Next came the study of tone production in various forms, a good quality
invariably being the result of a free condition of the arm combined with
strength of fingers and hands.

"The Leschetizky principles seem to me the most perfect and correct in
every particular. Yes, there are several books of the method, by
different authors, but I teach the principles without a book. The
principles themselves are the essential things. I aim to build up the
hand, to make it strong and dependable in every part, to fill out the
weak places and equalize it. That this may be thoroughly and
successfully accomplished, I require that nothing but technical
exercises be used for the first nine, ten, or twelve weeks. We begin
with the simplest exercises, one finger at a time, then two, three and
so on through the hand. I believe in thus devoting all the practise time
to technic, for a certain period, so that the mind is free to master the
principles, undisturbed by piece playing. When the principles have been
assimilated, the attention can then be directed to the study of music
itself. If any weak places appear in the hand from time to time, they
can be easily corrected.

"If a pupil comes to me who has played a great deal but with no idea of
the principles of piano playing, who does not know how to handle herself
or the keyboard, it is absolutely necessary to stop everything and get
ready to play. If you attempt even a simple sonata with no legato touch,
no idea of chord or scale playing, you can not make the piece sound like
anything. It is like a painter trying to paint without brushes, or an
artist attempting to make a pen and ink drawing with a blunt lead
pencil; to do good work you must have the tools to work with.

"For application of all principles, the studies of Czerny, Op. 299, 740,
and others, offer unequaled opportunity. They are simple, direct, and
give the student a chance for undivided attention to every position
taken and to every motion made.

"What happens afterward is altogether according to the individual
characteristics of the student. How to recognize these and deal with
them to the best advantage is the interesting task of my great master
(and those who try to follow in his steps)--the man of keenest
intelligence, of profound learning and experience. To learn this lesson
from him has been my greatest aim, and to see him at work, as it has
been my privilege to do for several summers, has been of the greatest
influence and inspiration in my own work.

"My chief endeavor is to create a desire for good musicianship. To this
end I insist upon the study of theory, harmony, ear-training and
analysis. In the piano lessons I do not have sufficient time to teach
these things. I have assistant teachers who help me with these subjects
and also with the technical training. Once a month during the season, my
assistant teachers bring their pupils to play for me, and we have a
class in piano teaching. There are sometimes eighteen or twenty students
who come to a class. I can in this way supervise all the work done, and
keep in touch with my teachers, their work, and with all the students.

"On the first Saturday of the month I have my own pupils here for a
class; they play for me and for each other. Everything is played from
memory, not a printed note is used. Students tell me it is very
difficult to play here, where all listen so intently. Especially is it
difficult the first time a student plays in class, to keep the mind
wholly on what he is doing, with sufficient concentration. Later on, at
the end of the season, it comes easier.

"This idea of separating the technical work at the outset from the study
of music itself, secures, in my opinion, the most perfect foundation,
and later on the best results. It is sometimes wonderful how, with
proper training, the hand will improve and develop in a comparatively
short time. I often marvel at it myself."

The writer had the privilege of being one of the guests at the last
audition of the season. Eight or nine young artists played a long and
difficult program. Among the numbers were a Beethoven sonata, entire;
Chopin's Ballade in A flat major; Cesar Franck, Prelude, Fugue and
Variations; a Mozart Fantaisie; Grieg Concerto, first movement; Weber's
Concertstück, and Chopin's Scherzo in E. The recital was most
instructive from an educational point of view. All the players had
repose and concentration, and there were no noticeable slips, though
every piece was played from memory. Hands were well arched at the
knuckles, fingers curved--with adequate action at the knuckle joint;
wrists in normal position, and extremely loose; the whole arm swung from
the shoulder and poised over the keys, thus adjusting itself to every
requirement of the composition. Every note had its amount of hand or arm
weight. The tone quality was full and singing. These points were
exemplified even in the playing of the youngest pupils. Furthermore they
had an intelligent grasp of the meaning of the music they played, and
brought it out with conviction, power, and brilliancy.




"The progressive teacher's method must be one of accretion," said Carl
Roeder, when interviewed between lesson hours in his delightful studio
in Carnegie Hall. "He gains ideas from many methods and sources, and
these he assimilates and makes practical for his work. At the same time
he must originate and work out things for himself. This has been my

"I was something of a wonder child, and at an early age developed
considerable facility and brilliancy. After knocking about as a pupil of
various private teachers and conservatories, I became, while quite a
young lad, the pupil of de Konstki, then a lion of the day." The speaker
joined in the laugh his remark called up, which brought to mind the
Chevalier's famous battle-horse, "The Awakening of the Lion."

"De Konstki's style was very brilliant and I endeavored to imitate him
in this respect. I did quite a little concert work at that time.
Realizing, however, that a pianist's income must be rather precarious, I
decided to teach. In those youthful days I had the idea that the teacher
of the piano had an easy life. I remembered one of my professors, a man
of considerable reputation, who took the duties of his profession very
lightly. His method of giving a lesson was to place the music upon the
piano, start the pupil going, then retire to a comfortable couch, light
his pipe and smoke at ease, troubling himself little about the pupil's
doings, except occasionally to call out 'Falsch!'

"So I, too, began to teach the piano. But I soon discovered that
teaching was something quite different from what I had imagined it to
be, and that it was something I knew very little about. I now set myself
to learn how to teach--how to help those pupils who came to me.

"One of my first discoveries was that most of the pupils were afflicted
with stiff wrists and arms, and that this stiffness must be remedied. My
own playing had always been free, due to one of my early teachers having
thoroughly inculcated the principle of 'weight,' so often acclaimed in
these days as a modern discovery. But how to bring about this condition
in others was a great problem. I studied the Mason method, and found
many helpful, illuminating ideas in regard to relaxation and
devitalization. I had some lessons with S.B. Mills, and later did
considerable valuable work with Paolo Gallico, who opened up to me the
great storehouse of musical treasure, and revealed to me among other
things the spiritual technic of the pianist's art. Subsequently I
investigated the Virgil and Leschetizky methods. Mr. Virgil has done
some remarkable things in the way of organizing and systematizing
technical requirements, and for this we owe him much. Such analyses had
not before been made with anything like the care and minuteness, and his
work has been of the greatest benefit to the profession. My subsequent
studies with Harold Bauer revealed him to be a deep musical thinker and
a remarkable teacher of the meaning of music itself.

"In my teaching I follow many of the ideas of Leschetizky, modified and
worked out in the manner which I have found most useful to my own
technic and to that of my pupils. I have formulated a method of my own,
based on the principles which form a dependable foundation to build the
future structure upon. Each pupil at the outset is furnished with a
blank book, in which are written the exercises thus developed as adapted
to individual requirements.


"We begin with table work. I use about ten different exercises which
embody, as it were, in a nutshell, the principles of piano playing. The
hand is first formed in an arched position, with curved fingers, and
solidified. The thumb has to be taught to move properly, for many people
have never learned to control it at all.

"With the hand in firm, solid position, and the arm hanging freely from
the shoulder, I begin to use combined arm and wrist movements, aiming to
get the weight of the arm as well as its energy at the complete disposal
of the finger tip. Each finger in turn is held firmly in a curved
position and played with a rotary movement of arm and wrist. When this
can be done we next learn hand action at the wrist from which results
the staccato touch. In this form of hand staccato there is an element of
percussion, as you see, but this element gives directness and precision
to the staccato touch, which in my opinion are necessary. After this we
come to finger action itself. This principle is taken up thoroughly,
first with one finger, then with two, three, four, and five--in all
possible combinations. In this way we come down from the large free-arm
movements to the smaller finger movements; from the 'general to the
particular,' instead of working from the smaller to the larger. I find
it most necessary to establish relaxation first, then strengthen and
build up the hand, before finger action to any extent is used. When
these foundational points have been acquired, the trill, scales,
arpeggios, chords, octaves and double notes follow in due course. At the
same time the rhythmic sense is developed, all varieties of touch and
dynamics introduced, and harmonic and structural analysis dwelt upon.


"Above the third or fourth grade I make frequent use of studies,
selecting them from various books. Duvernoy, Op. 120; Berens, Op. 61;
Czerny, Op. 740 I find far more interesting than the threadbare 299.
Heller is indispensable, so melodious and musical. Arthur Foote's
studies, Op. 27, are very useful; also MacDowell's, Op. 39 and 46.
Sometimes I use a few of Cramer's and the Clementi 'Gradus,' though
these seem rather old-fashioned now.

"For more advanced pupils I find Harberbier, Op. 53 especially
applicable; there is beautiful work in them. Kessler, Op. 20, and the
Moszkowski studies, Op. 72, have splendid material for the advanced
player, and prepare for Henselt, Rubinstein, Chopin and Liszt études. I
find that studies are valuable for application of technical principles,
for reacting purposes, and for the cultivation of all the refinements of
playing. Some teachers believe in applying the technic directly to
pieces, and use almost no studies; but I think a study is often more
valuable than a piece, because a definite technical principle is treated
in every kind of way. Though I do not require studies to be memorized,
they must be played with all the finish of a piece, if the pupil is to
derive the maximum of benefit from them.


"As aids to my studies in the art of teaching, several books have been
most helpful. Among these are two volumes by Dr. Herman H. Home, _The
Philosophy of Education_, and _The Psychology of Education_. Another
book, from which I have profited much is William James' _Talks to
Teachers on Psychology_. Every teacher should possess it.

"You ask what method I pursue with new pupils who have played a great
deal of music but with little idea of correct principles of piano study.
Let us take, for instance, one who has had lessons for years but is in
ignorance of first principles. Arms and wrists are stiff, hands and
fingers held in cramped position; no freedom anywhere. My first move is
to have the pupil stand and learn to relax arms, shoulders and body;
then learn to breathe. But relaxation, even at first, is not the only
thing; after devitalization comes organization, firmness and
solidity--in the right places. It must be understood at the very
beginning that piano playing is far more than sitting before the
instrument working the fingers six or seven hours a day. The mechanical
side is only preliminary. Some one has said that the factors in playing
are a trinity of H's--head, hand and heart. I try at once to awaken
thought, to give a wider outlook, to show that piano playing is the
expression, through the medium of tone, of all that the poet, painter
and philosopher are endeavoring to show through other means: to this
end I endeavor to stimulate interest in the wonders of the visible
universe, the intellectual achievements of men and the deep things of
spiritual discernment.


"On this subject I think we should avoid pedantry; not to say to the
pupil, you must play this piece a certain way; but rather say, I see or
feel it in this way, and give the reasons underlying the conception. I
believe the successful teacher should be a pianist. He should understand
every point and be able to _do_ the thing, else how can he really show
the manner of the doing? Many of the _nuances_, subtleties of color and
phrase, effects of charm or of bravura, cannot be explained; they must
be illustrated. And furthermore, only he who has been over the road can
be a safe or sympathetic guide. Tolstoi realized he could not be of
service to the people he would uplift unless he lived among them, shared
their trials and experienced their needs. The time has gone by when the
musician and composer was considered a sort of freak, knowing music and
nothing else. We know the great composers were men of the highest
intelligence and learning, men whose aim was to work out their genius
to the utmost perfection. Nothing less than the highest would satisfy
them. As George Eliot said, 'Genius is the capacity for taking infinite
pains.' Think of the care Beethoven took with every phrase, how many
times he did it over, never leaving it till he was satisfied."

In speaking of the great European teachers Mr. Roeder continued:

"We hear much of the Leschetizky method; but with that master technic is
quite a secondary matter over which, when once the principles are
mastered, he troubles himself but little. It is the conception of the
work as a whole which concerns him, how to project it, so to say, most
effectively to an audience. He brings into prominence now this part, now
that, accenting here, slightly exaggerating there, in order to make the
picture more vivid to the listener. Harold Bauer is another illuminating
master for those who have a technical equipment adequate to the
performance of great works of piano literature. Some go to him who are
not ready for what he has to give, but to those who can direct attention
to the meaning of the music, he is a wonderful inspirational force.
First he will point out a phrase here, another there, and so on through
the piece, showing how the same idea takes on various aspects in the
composer's thought. Then he shows how to gather up these different
threads to form the perfect pattern which the author of the work had in
mind; and finally the master teacher reaches down below the surface of
form and design to the vital significance of the composition, and the
disciple feels the glow and power of the revelation.

"There is no gainsaying the fact that this age is superficial, and the
great office of art is to cultivate that idealism which will uplift and
inspire. In an important sense the teacher must be a preacher of
righteousness. He knows that 'beautiful things are fashioned from clay,
but it has first to pass through the fire,' and only those who can
endure that scorching can hope to achieve success.


"If asked to what extent a player's personality enters into the
performance, my answer would be: Only in so far as the performance
remains true to the composer's intention. So long as personality
illumines the picture and adds charm, interest, and effectiveness to it,
it is to be applauded; but when it obstructs the view and calls
attention to itself it should not be tolerated. It is not art; it is

"Yes, I teach both high finger action and pressure touch, once the
principle of arm weight is thoroughly established, although I use high
finger action only to develop finger independence and precision, and for
passages where sharp delineation is required. I believe in freedom of
body, arm and wrist, a firm, solid arched hand and set fingers. That
freedom is best which insures such control of the various playing
members as to enable the player to produce at will any effect of power,
velocity or delicacy desired; thereby placing the entire mechanical
apparatus under complete subjection to the mind, which dominates the
performance. In other words, I am neither an anarchist who wants no
government, namely unrestrained devitalization, nor a socialist, whose
cry is for all government--that is, restriction and rigidity. In piano
playing, as in all else, 'Virtue is the happy mean between two vices.'"




When one has frequently listened to a favorite pianist in the concert
room, and has studied impersonally, so to speak, the effects of touch,
tone and interpretation produced during a recital, it is a satisfaction
and delight to come into personal touch with the artist in the inner
circle of the home; to be able to speak face to face with one who has
charmed thousands from the platform, and to discuss freely the points
which impress one when listening to a public performance.

[Illustration: Katharine Goodson]

It has been my recent privilege thus to come into intimate touch with
the artist pair, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hinton, the latter being known all
over the world as Katharine Goodson. They have a quiet, beautiful home
in London--a true artist's home. One feels at once on entering and
enjoying its hospitality, that here at least is one instance where two
musicians have perfect harmony in the home life. Mr. Hinton, as is
widely known, is a composer and also a violinist and pianist. The
beautiful music-room, which has been added to one side of the house and
leads into the garden, contains two grand pianos on its raised platform.
This music-room is Miss Goodson's own sanctum and workroom, and here
piano concertos, with orchestral accompaniment supplied on the second
piano, can be studied _ad infinitum_. Mr. Hinton has his own studio at
the top of the house.

The garden music-room is lighted at one end by a great arched window, so
placed that the trees of the garden are seen through its panes. It is
easy to imagine one's self in some lovely sylvan retreat--which is
indeed true! All the appointments of this room, and indeed of the whole
house, every article of furniture and each touch of color, betoken the
artistic sense for fitness and harmony. Miss Goodson has a keen and
exquisite sense for harmony in colors as well as for color in the
harmonies she brings from her instrument.

"My coming tour will be the fifth I have made in America," she said. "I
enjoy playing in your country immensely; the cities of New York, Boston,
Chicago, and Philadelphia are the most appreciative in the world. It is
true we have masses of concerts in London, but few of them are really
well attended and people are not so thoroughly acquainted with piano
music as you are in America. And you are so appreciative of the
best--even in the smaller cities.

"I can recall a recital which I gave in a city of not more than forty
thousand, in the West. The recital was arranged by a musical club; they
asked for the program some time in advance, studied it up and thus knew
every piece I was to play. There was an enormous audience, for people
came from all the country round. I remember three little elderly ladies
who greeted me after the recital; in parting they said, 'You will see us
to-morrow,' I thought it over afterward and wondered what they meant,
for I was to play at a place many miles from there the next night. What
was my surprise to be greeted by the same ladles the following evening.
'You see, we are here; we told you we would come.' Fancy taking a trip
from London to Edinburgh just to hear a concert! For it was a journey
like that. Such incidents show the enthusiasm in America for music--and
for piano music.

"I hope to play both the Brahms and Paderewski concertos in America. To
me the latter is a beautiful work--the slow movement is exquisite. I
have as yet scarcely done anything with the composition, for I have been
on a long tour through Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It was most
inspiring to play for these people; they want me to come back to them
now, but I cannot do so, nor can I go next season, but after that I
shall go. I returned home greatly in need of rest. I shall now begin
work in earnest, however, as summer is really the only time I have for
study throughout the year. I shall have six full weeks now before we
take our usual holiday in the Grindelwald. On the way there we shall
stop at Morges and visit Paderewski, and then I will go over the
concerto with him and get his ideas as to interpretation.


"You ask how I memorize. First I go over the work several times to get a
general idea of the whole. Then I analyze it, for I feel it absolutely
necessary to know keys, chords, and construction. A work should be so
well understood along these lines that it can be played in another key
as well as in the one in which it is written. For the actual memorizing
of the piece I generally do it phrase by phrase, not always 'each hand
alone,' though occasionally I do this also. I remember learning the Bach
A minor Prelude and Fugue in this way. If I were now asked to play any
measure or passage in any part of it I could do so; it is mine forever,
never to be forgotten."

Asked about the different ways of teaching the Leschetizky method by
various teachers, Miss Goodson said:

"As we all know, people claim to understand and teach the Leschetizky
principles who are not competent to do so. I do not recall, for
instance, that the professor requires the tips of the fingers to form a
straight line on the edge of the keys. I myself have never done this. I
believe in a perfectly easy and natural position of hand at the
keyboard. When this is the case the finger-tips form a curve, the middle
fingers being placed a little farther in on the keys than is natural for
the first and fifth. Of course the hand takes an arched position and the
joints nearest the tip of the fingers must be firm; there should be no
wavering nor giving in there. The whole arm, of course, is relaxed, and
swings easily from the shoulder.


"I have, as you say, a good hand for the piano; much depends on that; I
have always had a good deal of what is called a natural technic. Thus
when I am obliged to forego practising I do not lose my facility; an
hour's work puts the hand in condition again. What do I do to accomplish
this? Different things. First some finger movements, perhaps with
fingers in an extended chord position; then some scales and arpeggios;
then a Chopin étude, and so on. When practising regularly, I do not
generally work at the piano more than four hours a day; it seems to me
that amount is sufficient, if used with absolute concentration."

Later we adjourned to the pretty garden back of the music-room, and here
we were joined by a beautiful gray Angora cat, the pet and pride of his
mistress, and a very important personage indeed. He has a trick of
climbing to Miss Goodson's shoulder, from which point of vantage he
surveys the world about him with all the complaisance of which an animal
of such high degree is capable.




[Illustration: MARK HAMBOURG]

In one of the most quiet, secluded quarters of London can be found the
home of the Russian pianist, Mark Hambourg. Mr. Hambourg lives on a
terrace, "far from the madding crowd," and difficult enough of access to
keep mere curiosity seekers at a distance. One can scarcely picture to
one's self, without an actual sight of them, the quaint charm of these
short passages or streets, usually termed "terraces," or "gardens." This
particular terrace looks out on a restful green park, where luxuriant
trees make long shadows on the sunlit turf. The house is large and
comfortable--built over a hundred years ago; its rooms are spacious, and
the drawing-room and library, which lead one into the other, form a fine
music salon. Surely, amid such surroundings, with priceless pictures and
_objets d'art_ all about, with exquisite colors, with space and quiet,
an artist must find an ideal spot for both work and play. I expressed
this thought to Mr. Hambourg when he entered; then we soon fell to
discussing the necessary equipment of the teacher and pianist.

"I agree with you," he said, "that it is the beginning of piano study
which is the most difficult of all; this is where the teacher has such
great responsibility and where so many teachers are so incompetent.
Perhaps there are more poor teachers for the piano than for the voice.
The organs of voice production cannot be seen, they can only be guessed
at; so there may be a little more excuse for the vocal teacher; but for
the piano we have the keys and the fingers. It should not therefore be
such a very difficult thing to learn to play intelligently and
correctly! Yet few seem to have got hold of the right principles or know
how to impart them."

"I have heard a number of the young pianists here," I remarked, "and
they all play with very little finger action--with fingers close to the
keys. Do you advocate this?"


"Do not forget that for centuries England has been a country of
organists; without doubt organ playing has had some effect on the piano
touch. Some schools of piano playing advise lifting the fingers high
above the keys, with a view to producing greater power; but I think the
tone thus produced is often of a somewhat harsh and disagreeable
quality. Then, too, high lifting interferes with smoothness and
velocity. For myself I advocate keeping the fingers close to the
keyboard, and pressing the keys, which gives the tone a warmer and more
elastic quality."

"A point in hand position I should like to ask you about. Some teachers
advise placing the finger-tips close to the edge of the keys, forming a
straight line with them; it seems to me such a position is forced and

Mr. Hambourg smiled assent.

"I do not advocate anything forced and unnatural," he answered. "So many
people think that a beautiful touch is 'born, not made,' but I do not
agree with them. One can acquire, I am sure, a fine piano touch with the
proper study. The principal requirement is, first of all, a loose wrist.
This point seems simple enough, but it is a point not sufficiently
considered nor understood. No matter how much the player may _feel_ the
meaning of the music, he cannot express this meaning with stiff wrists
and arms. Some people have a natural flexibility, and to such the
securing of a musical tone presents far less difficulty; but with time,
patience, and thought, I fully believe all can arrive at this goal.


"In regard to practise I do not think it wise for the aspiring pianist
to spend such a great amount of time at the piano. Four hours of
concentrated work daily seems to me sufficient. Of course it is the
quality of practise that counts. The old saying, 'Practise makes
perfect,' does not mean constant repetition merely, but constant
thinking and listening. I advise students to stop after playing a
passage several times, and think over what the notes mean. This pause
will rest ears and hands; in a few moments work can be resumed with
fresh vigor.

"I have been so frequently asked to write on the subject of technic that
I have done so in a few articles which have been printed in a small
booklet. From these you may see what my ideas are on these points. I do
very little teaching myself--just a few talented pupils; they must be
something out of the ordinary. You see, I do not live in London
continuously; I am here only about four months of the year; the rest of
the time is spent traveling all over the world. Only that small part of
the year when I am stationary can I do any solid work. Here it is
generally quiet enough: the Zoological Garden is not far away, however,
and sometimes I have the roaring of the lions as an accompaniment to my

"I am always increasing my repertoire, though I find the public does not
care for new things; it prefers the old. It may listen to the new if
forced to, but it will not attend a recital unless various familiar
things are on the program.

"I have made several tours in America. The rush of travel from place to
place over there, is fatiguing, but I feel that your people are very
appreciative. You demand the best, and concert giving in America is so
costly that a manager can afford to exploit only the highest artists.
Here in London, where the expense is only about two hundred dollars,
say, to get up a recital, almost any one can scrape together that sum
and bring himself or herself before the public. In America the outlay is
four or five times greater. No wonder that only a very good artist can
take the risk."

On leaving, Mr. Hambourg took us to another room, where he showed us
with much satisfaction, a very valuable painting of the old Italian
school, by Ghirlandajo, of which he is very fond.




One of the first things accomplished after my arrival in London was to
seek out Tobias Matthay, the composer and teacher, for an echo of his
fame had reached me across the water.

Matthay has done much to make the principles of piano technic so clear
and simple that even a child can understand them. If he has stated facts
in a way which seems to some revolutionary it is because these facts are
seldom understood by the rank and file of piano teachers. The work he
has done has compelled attention and admiration; his ideas are now
accepted as undeniable truths by those who at first repudiated them. The
writings of Mr. Matthay will doubtless be better known in America a
little later on than they are at present. They consist in part of an
exhaustive work on _The Act of Touch in all its Diversity; First
Principles of Piano Playing; Relaxation Studies; The Child's First Steps
in Piano Playing; The Principles of Fingering and Laws of Pedaling;
Forearm Rotation Principle;_ and, in press, _The Principles of Teaching
Interpretation_. These very titles are inspiring and suggestive, and
show Matthay to be a deep thinker along educational lines.

[Illustration: Cordially Yours, Tobias Matthay]

Matthay's activities are enormous. He is professor of advanced piano
playing at the Royal Academy of Music; also founder and head of his own
school of piano playing. So occupied early and late is he, that it is
almost impossible to get a word with him. I was fortunate enough,
however, to obtain an hour's audience, and also permission to attend
various private classes at the Royal Academy, and hear a number of
pupils in recital.

In appearance Matthay is a striking personality. His head and features
recall pictures of Robert Louis Stevenson. His tall, muscular form has
the stoop of the scholar; and little wonder when one remembers he must
sit in his chair at work day in and day out. His somewhat brusk manner
melts into kind amiability when discussing the topics in which he is
vitally interested. In his intercourse with students he is ever kind,
sympathetic and encouraging. They, on their part, treat him with
profound respect.

Matthay believes, and rightly, that the beginning pupil should learn
essentials of note values, rhythm, time, ear-training and so on, before
attempting to play anything at the piano. When first taken to the
instrument, its mechanism is carefully explained to the learner, and
what he must do to make a really musical tone. He says _(Child's First
Steps)_: "Before you take the very first step in tone production, be
sure to understand that you must never touch the piano without trying to
make music. It is only too easy to sound notes without making music at
all. To make music we must make all the sounds mean something, just as
it is no use to pretend to speak unless the sounds we make with our lips
mean something, that is unless they form reasoned phrases and

Here nothing is left vague. Matthay shows clearly how all musical Form
and Shape imply Movement and Progression: the movement of a phrase
toward its cadence; the movement of a group of notes toward a beat or
pulse ahead, or the movement of a whole piece toward its climax, etc.
This original view of his regarding form, which he has advocated for
the last twenty years, is now being accepted generally by the more
up-to-date of the English theorists and teachers.

In regard to key mechanism and what must be done to produce all
varieties of touch and tone, Matthay has made exhaustive studies. He
says (_First Principles of Piano Playing_): "The two chief rules of
technic, as regards the key, are, therefore: Always feel how much the
key resists you: feel how much the key _wants_ for every note. Second,
Always listen for the moment each sound begins, so that you may learn to
direct your effort to the sound only, and not to the key bed. You must
never hit a key down, nor hit _at_ it. The finger-tip may fall on the
key, and in gently reaching the key you may follow up such fall by
acting against the key. This action against the key must be for the sole
purpose of making it move--in one of the many ways which each give us
quite a different kind of sound. And you must always direct such action
to the point in key descent where the sound begins."

I quote also this little summary from the same work:

"(a) It is only by making the hammer-end of the key move that you can
make a sound. (b) The swifter the movement the louder the sound. (c)
The more gradual this swiftness is obtained the more beautiful the
quality of sound. (d) For brilliant tone you may hit the string by means
of the key, but do not, by mistake, hit the key instead. (e) You must
'aim' the key to the _beginning_ of each sound, because the hammer falls
off the string as you hear that beginning, and it is too late then to
influence the sound except its continuance. (f) It is wrong to squeeze
the key beds, because it prevents tone, impairs musical result, impedes
agility, and is, besides, fatiguing. (g) You must feel the 'giving way
point' of the key, so that you may be able to tell how much force is
required for each note. Never, therefore, really hit the keys."

Mr. Matthay as minutely gives directions as to the muscular problems of
touch and technique. For instance, he explains how all varieties of
tone, good and bad, are caused, all inflections of Duration, and the
laws which govern the attainment of Agility and ease of Technique; and
also explains the nature of incorrect muscular actions which prevent the
attainment of all these things. He shows where the released arm weight
should be applied, and again, where it should be eliminated; makes
clear the two opposite forms of technic implied by "flat" and "bent"
finger actions, and he goes exhaustively into the little-understood
question of forearm rotary exertions, the correct application of which
he proves to be necessary for every note we play.

In speaking of methods in piano teaching, Mr. Matthay said to me:

"I can say I have no method _of playing_, and moreover I have not much
faith in people who have. My teachings merely show how all playing, good
or bad, is accomplished. There are certain principles, however, which
every player should know, but which, I am sorry to say, are as yet
scarcely apprehended even by the best teachers. The great pianists have
experimented till they have hit upon effects which they can repeat if
all conditions are favorable, and they are in the mood. As a rule they
do not know the laws underlying these effects. You may ask the greatest
pianists, for example, how to play octaves. 'Oh, I play them
thus'--illustrating. Just what to do to attain this result they cannot
explain. In my own case I have done much experimenting, but always with
the view to discovering _how_ things are done--the facts and laws
governing actual tone production and interpretation. I made a study of
Rubinstein's playing, for I found he played a great deal better than I
did. So I discovered many things in listening to him, which he perhaps
could not have explained to me. These facts are incontrovertible and I
have brought many of my colleagues to see the truth of them. More than
this, I have brought many even of my older colleagues who had a
life-time of wrong mental habits to impede them, to realize the truth of
my teachings.

"The work of a teacher should speak for itself. For my own part I never
advertise, for I can point to hundreds of pupils--this is no
exaggeration in the least!--who are constantly before the public, as
concert pianists and successful teachers.

"If there is one thing that rouses me deeply, it is the incompetence of
so many teachers of piano. They say to the pupil: 'You play badly, you
must play better'; but they do not tell the pupil _how_ to play better.
They give doses of études, sonatas and pieces, yet never get at the
heart of the matter at all. It is even worse than the fake singing
teachers; I feel like saying it is damnable!"

It was my privilege to be present at some of Mr. Matthay's private
lessons, given at the Royal Academy. Several young men were to try for
one of the medals, and were playing the same piece, one of the
Strauss-Tausig Valse Caprices.

Matthay listens to a complete performance of the work in hand, then
turns back to the beginning and goes over it again for corrections and
suggestions. He enters into it with absolute devotion, directing with
movements of head and hands as a conductor might direct an orchestra;
sometimes he dashes down a chord in the treble to urge more force; at
other times lays a restraining hand on the player's arm, where the tone
should be softer. His blue pencil is often busy adding phrasing marks.
In the pauses he talks over with the pupil the character of the piece,
and the effects he thinks should be made. In short his lessons are most
helpful and illuminating.

I also had the opportunity to attend a pupils' "Practise Concert," and
here the results attained were little short of marvelous. Small
children, both boys and girls, played difficult pieces, like the Grieg
Variations for two pianos, the Weber _Invitation to the Dance_, and
works by Chopin and Liszt, with accuracy and fluency. Almost every
selection was played from memory. The tone was always musical and often
of much power, and the pupils seemed thoroughly to understand what they
were doing and the meaning of the music. They certainly exemplified the
professor's maxim:

"Never touch the piano without trying to make music."

       *       *       *       *       *

Not long afterward I received a copy of the new book, which had just
come from the press. Its comprehensive title is _Musical Interpretation,
its Laws and Principles, and their Application in Teaching and
Performing_. The material was first presented in the form of lectures;
on repeated requests it has been issued in book form. The author at the
outset claims no attempt to treat such a complex problem exhaustively;
he has, however, selected the following seven points for elucidation:

1. The difference between Practise and Strumming.
2. The difference between Teaching and Cramming.
3. How one's mind can be brought to bear on one's work.
4. Correct ideas of Time and Shape.
5. Elements of Rubato and its application.
6. Elements of Duration and Pedaling and their application.
7. Some details as to the application of the Element of Tone-variety.

Such themes must cause the thoughtful reader to pause and think. They
are treated with illuminating originality. The great aim of the teacher
must ever be to awaken thought along correct lines; the pupil must be
assisted to concentrate his thought on what he is doing: to constantly
think and listen. Teaching does not consist merely in pointing out
faults; the teacher must make clear the _cause_ of each fault and the
way to correct it. That section of the book devoted to the Element of
Rubato, is illustrated with many examples from well-known compositions,
by which the principle is explained. He shows how frequently this
principle is misunderstood by the inexperienced, who seem to think that
rubato means breaking the time; whereas true rubato is the _bending_ of
the time, but not _breaking_ it. If we give extra time to certain notes,
we must take some time from other notes, in order to even things up.

The subject of Pedaling is aptly explained by means of numerous
illustrations. The author deplores the misuse of the damper pedal,
which can be made to ruin all the care and effort bestowed on phrasing
and tonal effects by the fingers. The fault can, in most cases, be
traced to inattention to the sounds coming from the piano.

There are quotable paragraphs on every page, which in their sincerity
and earnestness, their originality of expression, stamp themselves on
the reader's imagination. Every teacher who is serious in his work and
has the best interests of his pupils at heart, should read and ponder
these pages.




Buried deep in the heart of old Paris, in one of the narrow, busy
thoroughfares of the city, stands the ancient house in which the master
pianist, Harold Bauer, has made a home.

One who is unfamiliar with Paris would never imagine that behind those
rows of uninviting buildings lining the noisy, commercial street, there
lived people of refined and artistic tastes. All the entrances to the
buildings look very much alike--they seem to be mere slits in the walls.
I stopped before one of the openings, entered and crossed a paved
courtyard, climbed a winding stone stairway, rang at a plain wooden
doorway, and was ushered into the artist's abode. Once within, I hardly
dared to speak, lest what I saw might vanish away, as with the wave of a
fairy's wand. Was I not a moment before down in that dusty, squalid
street, and here I am now in a beautiful room whose appointments are
all of quiet elegance--costly but in exquisite taste, and where absolute
peace and quiet reign. The wide windows open upon a lovely green garden,
which adds the final touch of restful repose to the whole picture.

Mr. Bauer was giving a lesson in the music salon beyond, from which
issued, now and again, echoes of well-beloved themes from a Chopin
sonata. When the lesson was over he came out to me.

"Yes, this is one of the old houses, of the sort that are fast passing
away in Paris," he said, answering my remark; "there are comparatively
few of them left. This building is doubtless at least three hundred
years old. In this quarter of the city--in the rue de Bac, for
instance--you may find old, forbidding looking buildings, that within
are magnificent--perfect palaces; at the back of them, perhaps, will be
a splendid garden; but the whole thing is so hidden away that even the
very existence of such grandeur and beauty would never be suspected from

He then led the way to the music-room, where we had an hour's talk.

[Illustration: HAROLD BAUER]

"I was thinking as I drove down here," I began, "what the trend of our
talk might be, for you have already spoken on so many subjects for
publication. It occurred to me to ask how you yourself secure a
beautiful tone on the piano, and how you teach others to make it?"

Mr. Bauer thought an instant.

"I am not sure that I do make it; in fact I do not believe in a single
beautiful tone on the piano. Tone on the piano can only be beautiful in
the right place--that is, in relation to other tones. You or I, or the
man in the street, who knows nothing about music, may each touch a piano
key, and that key will sound the same, whoever moves it, from the nature
of the instrument. A beautiful tone may result when two or more notes
are played successively, through their _difference of intensity_, which
gives variety. A straight, even tone is monotonous--a dead tone. Variety
is life. We see this fact exemplified even in the speaking voice; if one
speaks or reads in an even tone it is deadly monotonous.


"Now the singer or the violinist can make a single tone on his
instrument beautiful through variety; for it is impossible for him to
make even _one_ tone which does not have shades of variation in it,
however slight they may be, which render it expressive. But you cannot
do this on the piano: you cannot color a single tone; but you can do
this with a succession of tones, through their difference, through their
relation to each other. On the other hand you may say any tone is
beautiful if in the right place, no matter how harsh it may be. The
singer's voice may break from emotion, or simulated emotion, in an
impassioned phrase. The exact note on which it breaks may not be a
beautiful one, it may even be very discordant, but we do not think of
that, for we are moved by the meaning back of the tones. So on the piano
there may be one note in a phrase which, if heard alone, would sound
harsh and unpleasant, but in its relation to other tones it sounds
beautiful, for it gives the right meaning and effect. Thus it is the
_relation of tones_ which results in a 'beautiful tone' on the piano.

"The frequent trouble is that piano teachers and players generally do
not understand their instrument. A singer understands his, a violinist,
flutist or drummer knows his, but not a pianist. As he only has keys to
put down and they are right under his hand, he does not bother himself
further. To obviate this difficulty, for those who come to me, I have
had this complete model of piano-key mechanism made. You see I can
touch the key in a variety of ways, and the results will be different
each time. It is necessary for the pianist to look into his instrument,
learn its construction, and know what happens inside when he touches a

"As you say, there are a great many methods of teaching the piano, but
to my mind they are apt to be long, laborious, and do not reach the
vital points. The pianist may arrive at these after long years of study
and experimenting, but much of his time will be wasted in useless labor.

"In my own case, I was forced by necessity to make headway quickly. I
came to Paris years ago as a violinist, but there seemed no opening for
me then in that direction. There was opportunity, however, for ensemble
work with a good violinist and 'cellist. So I set to work to acquire
facility on the piano as quickly as possible. I consulted all the
pianists I knew--and I knew quite a number--as to what to do. They told
me I must spend many months on technic alone before I could hope to play
respectably, but I told them I had no time for that. So I went to work
to study out the effects I needed. It didn't matter to me _how_ my hand
looked on the keyboard; whether my fingers were curved, flat, or stood
on end. I was soon able to get my effects and to convince others that
they were the effects I wanted. Later on, when I had more leisure, I
took more thought about the position of hand and fingers. But I am
convinced that much time is spent uselessly on externals, which do not
reach the heart of the matter.

"For instance, players struggle for years to acquire a perfectly even
scale. Now I don't believe in that at all. I don't believe a scale ever
should be even, either in tone or in rhythm. The beginner's untrained
efforts at a scale sound like this"--the speaker illustrated at the
piano with a scale in which all the tones were blurred and run into each
other; then he continued, "After a year's so-called 'correct training,'
his scale sounds like this"--again he illustrated, playing a succession
of notes with one finger, each tone standing out by itself. "To my
thinking such teaching is not only erroneous, it is positively
poisonous--yes, _poisonous_!"

"Is it to be inferred that you do not approve of scale practise?"

"Oh, I advise scale playing surely, for facility in passing the thumb
under and the hand over is very necessary. I do not, however, desire
the even, monotonous scale, but one that is full of variety and life.

"In regard to interpretation, it should be full of tonal and rhythmic
modifications. Briefly it may be said that expression may be exemplified
in four ways: loud, soft, fast, and slow. But within these crude
divisions what infinite shades and gradations may be made! Then the
personal equation also comes in. Variety and differentiation are of
supreme importance--they are life!

"I go to America next season, and after that to Australia; this will
keep me away from my Paris home for a long time to come. I should like
to give you a picture to illustrate this little talk. Here is a new one
which was taken right here in this room, as I sat at the piano, with the
strong sunlight pouring in at the big window at my left."

       *       *       *       *       *

On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Bauer spoke further on some phases of his

"As you already know I do not believe in so-called 'piano technic,'
which must be practised laboriously outside of pieces. I do not believe
in spending a lot of time in such practise, for I feel it is time wasted
and leads nowhere. I do not believe, for instance, in the struggle to
play a perfectly even scale. A scale should never be 'even,' for it must
be full of variety and life. A perfectly even scale is on a dead level;
it has no life; it is machine-made. The only sense in which the word
'even' may be applied to a scale is for its rhythmic quality; but even
in this sense a beautiful scale has slight variations, so that it is
never absolutely regular, either in tone or rhythm.

"Then I do not believe in taking up a new composition and working at the
technical side of it first. I study it in the first place from the
musical side. I see what may be the meaning of the music, what ideas it
seeks to convey, what was in the composer's mind when he wrote it. In
other words, I get a good general idea of the composition as a whole;
when I have this I can begin to work out the details.

"In this connection I was interested in reading a statement made by
Ruskin in his _Modern Painters_. The statement, which, I think, has
never been refuted, is that while the great Italian painters, Raphael,
Coreggio, and the rest have left many immature and imperfect pictures
and studies in color, their drawings are mature and finished, showing
that they made many experiments and studies in color before they thought
of making the finished black and white drawing. It seems they put the
art thought first before the technical detail. This is the way I feel
and the way I work.


"Because our ancestors were brought up to study the piano a certain way,
and we--some of us--have been trained along the same rigid lines, does
not mean there are no better, broader, less limited ways of reaching the
goal we seek. We do not want to limit ourselves or our powers. We do not
need to say: 'Now I have thought out the conception of this composition
to my present satisfaction; I shall always play it the same way.' How
can we feel thus? It binds us at once with iron shackles. How can I play
the piece twice exactly alike? I am a different man to-day from what I
was yesterday, and shall be different to-morrow from what I am to-day.
Each day is a new world, a new life. Don't you see how impossible it is
to give two performances of the piece which shall be identical in every
particular? It _is_ possible for a machine to make any number of
repetitions which are alike, but a human, with active thought and
emotion, has a broader outlook.

"The question as to whether the performer must have experienced every
emotion he interprets is as old as antiquity. You remember in the
Dialogues of Plato, Socrates was discussing with another sage the point
as to whether an actor must have felt every emotion he portrayed in
order to be a true artist. The discussion waxed warm on both sides.
Socrates' final argument was, If the true artist must have lived through
every experience in order to portray it faithfully, then, if he had to
act a death scene he would have to die first in order to picture it with
adequate fidelity!"


In speaking of velocity in piano playing and how it is to be acquired,
Mr. Bauer continued:

"I believe the quality of velocity is inherent--an integral part of
one's thought. Even a child, if he has this inherent quality, can play a
simple figure of five notes as fast as they need to be played. People of
the South--not on this side of the water--but of Spain and Italy, are
accustomed to move quickly; they gesticulate with their hands and are
full of life and energy. It is no trouble for them to think with
velocity. Two people will set out to walk to a given point; they may
both walk fast, according to their idea of that word, but one will
cover the ground much more quickly than the other. I think this idea of
a time unit is again a limiting idea. There can be _no_ fixed and fast
rule as to the tempo of a composition; we cannot be bound by such rules.
The main thing is: Do I understand the meaning and spirit of the
composition, and can I make these clear to others? Can I so project this
piece that the picture is alive? If so, the fact as to whether it is a
few shades slower or faster does not enter into the question at all.


"Many players totally mistake in what power consists. They think they
must exert great strength in order to acquire sufficient power. Many
women students have this idea; they do not realize that power comes from
contrast. This is the secret of the effect of power. I do not mean to
say that we must not play with all the force we have at times; we even
have to pound and bang occasionally to produce the needed effects. This
only proves again that a tone may be beautiful, though in itself harsh,
if this harshness comes in the right time and place.

"As with velocity so with power; there is _no_ fixed and infallible rule
in regard to it, for that would only be another limitation to the
feeling, the poetry, the emotion of the executant's _thought_. The
quality and degree of power are due to contrast, and the choice of the
degree to be used lies with the player's understanding of the content of
the piece and his ability to bring out this content and place it in all
its perfection and beauty before the listener. This is his opportunity
to bring out the higher, the spiritual meaning."




"An audience has been arranged for you to-day, with M. Raoul Pugno; he
will await you at four o'clock, in his Paris studio." Thus wrote the
courteous representative of _Musical America_ in Paris.

It had been very difficult to make appointments with any of the famous
French musicians, owing to their being otherwise engaged, or out of the
city. I therefore welcomed this opportunity for meeting at least one of
the great pianists of France.

At the appointed hour that afternoon, we drove through the busy rue de
Clicy, and halted at the number which had been indicated. It proved to
be one of those unpromising French apartment buildings, which present,
to the passer-by, a stern façade of flat wall, broken by rows of
shuttered windows, which give no hint of what may be hidden behind them.
In this case we did not find the man we sought in the front portion of
the building, but were directed to cross a large, square court. The
house was built around this court, as was the custom in constructing the
older sort of dwellings.

At last we discovered the right door, which was opened by a neat

"M. Pugno is not here, he lives in the country," she said, in answer to
our inquiry. (How difficult these French musicians are to find; they
seem to be one and all "in the country"!)

"But, madame, we have an appointment with M. Pugno; will you not be good
enough to see if he is not here after all?"

She left us standing, but returned almost immediately with the message
that M. Pugno had only that moment entered his studio, to which she
would conduct us.

[Illustration: RAOUL PUGNO]

In another moment we had crossed the tiny foyer and were standing within
the artist's sanctuary. At first glance one felt as though in an
Oriental chamber of some Eastern monarch. Heavy gold and silver Turkish
embroideries hung over doors and windows. The walls were covered with
many rare paintings; rich _objets d'art_ were scattered about in
profusion; an open door led out into a pretty garden, where flowers
bloomed, and a fountain _dripped_ into its marble basin. A raised dais
at one side of the room held a divan, over which were draperies of
Oriental stuffs. On this divan, as on a throne, sat the great pianist we
had come to see. He made a stately and imposing figure as he sat there,
with his long silvery beard and his dignified bearing. Near him sat a
pretty young woman, whom we soon learned was Mlle. Nadia Boulanger, a
composer and musician of brilliant attainments.

"I regret that I am unable to converse with you in English, as I speak
no language but my own," began M. Pugno, with a courteous wave of the
hand for us to be seated.

"You wish to know some of my ideas on piano playing--or rather on
teaching. I believe a child can begin to study the piano at a very early
age, if he show any aptitude for it; indeed the sooner he begins the
better, for then he will get over some of the drudgery by the time he is
old enough to understand a little about music.


"Great care must be taken with the health of the child who has some
talent for music, so that he shall not overdo in his piano study. After
all a robust physical condition is of the first importance, for without
it one can do little.

"A child in good health can begin as early as five or six years. He must
be most judiciously trained from the start. As the ear is of such prime
importance in music, great attention should be paid to tone study--to
listening to and distinguishing the various sounds, and to singing them
if possible, in solfeggio.

"At the outset a good hand position must be secured, with correct finger
movements. Then there must be a thorough drill in scales, arpeggios,
chords, and a variety of finger exercises, before any kind of pieces are
taken up. The young student in early years, is expected to play various
études, as well as the technic studies I have mentioned--Czerny, Cramer,
Clementi, and always Bach. In my position, as member of the faculty of
the Conservatoire, a great many students pass before me. If I personally
accept any pupils, they naturally must be talented and advanced, as I
cannot give my time to the children. Still it is interesting to see the
child-thought develop."

The conversation turned upon the charming studio with its lovely
garden--where absolute quiet could be secured in spite of the noise and
bustle of one of the busiest quarters of Paris. The studio itself, we
were told, had formerly belonged to the painter Decamps, and some of the
pictures and furnishings were once his. A fine portrait of Pugno, life
size, filling the whole space above the piano, claimed our attention. He
kindly rose, as we admired the painting, and sought a photograph copy.
When it was found--the last one he possessed--he presented it with his

We spoke of Mlle. Boulanger's work in composition, a subject which
seemed deeply to interest M. Pugno.

"Yes, she is writing an opera; in fact we are writing it together; the
text is from a story of d'Annunzio. I will jot down the title for you."

Taking a paper which I held in my hand, he wrote,

_"La Ville Morte, 4 Acts de d'Annuncio; Musique de Nadia Boulanger et
Raoul Pugno"_

"You will certainly have it performed in America, when it is finished; I
will tell them so," I said.

The great pianist smiled blandly and accepted the suggestion with
evident satisfaction.

"Yes, we will come to America and see the work performed, when it is
completed," he said.

With many expressions of appreciation we took our leave of the Oriental
studio and its distinguished occupants; and, as we regained the busy,
noisy rue de Clicy, we said to ourselves that we had just lived through
one of the most unique experiences of our stay in Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

(The above is the last interview ever taken from this great French
artist, who passed away a few months later.)

       *       *       *       *       *

The following items concerning M. Pugno's manner of teaching and
personal traits, were given me by Mme. Germaine Schnitzer, the
accomplished French pianist and the master's most gifted pupil.

"Pugno had played the piano almost from infancy, and in early youth had
taken several piano prizes. Later, however, he gave much more of his
time to the organ, to the seeming neglect of the former instrument. How
his serious attention was reverted to the piano happened in this wise.
It was announced that Edward Grieg, the noted Norwegian, was coming to
Paris. Pugno was one day looking over his piano Concerto which had
recently appeared. 'Why don't you play the work for the composer when
he comes?' asked a friend. 'I am no pianist,' objected Pugno. 'Why not?'
said his friend; 'you know enough about the piano, and there are still
four weeks in which to learn the Concerto.' Pugno took the advice,
practised up the work, played it in the concert given by Grieg, and
scored a success. He was then thirty-nine years of age. This appearance
was the beginning; other engagements and successes followed, and thus he
developed into one of the great pianists of France.

"Pugno was a born pianist; he had a natural gift for technic, and
therefore never troubled himself much about teaching technical exercises
nor practising them. If the work of a pupil contained technical faults,
he made no remarks nor explanations, but simply closed the music book
and refused to listen any further. The pupil, of course, retired in
discomfiture. He was fond of playing along with the pupil (generally
with the left hand), or singing the melodies and themes, in order to
give him ideas of the meaning and interpretation of the music. This gave
independence to the pupils, though it often afforded them much

"With advanced students Pugno spoke much about music and what it could
express; he translated themes and passages back into the feelings and
emotions which had originated them; he showed how all emotions find
their counterpart in tones. 'Above all let kindness and goodness control
you,' he once wrote; 'if you are filled with kindness, your tone will be

"Pugno's instruction took the form of talks on the inner meaning of the
composition, and the art of interpreting it, rather than any training on
the technical side; about the latter he concerned himself very little.
It goes without saying that only talented pupils made progress under
such a master; indeed those without talent interested him not at all. He
was a wonderful teacher for those who had the insight to read between
the lines, and were able to follow and absorb his artistic enthusiasms.

"I have said that Pugno did not concern himself about teaching the
technical side of piano playing. Even with me, his best pupil, he rarely
touched upon technical points. I must mention a notable exception. He
gave me one technical principle, expressed in a few simple exercises,
which I have never heard of from any one else. The use of this
principle has helped me amazingly to conquer many knotty passages. I
have never given these exercises to any one; I am willing however, to
jot them down for you."

(The following is a brief plan of the exercises, as sketched by Mme.

[Illustration: EXERCISES]

"Pugno wished the thirty-seconds and sixty-fourths to be played with the
utmost quickness. This idea is not alone applicable to all scales, but
can be used with any difficult passage found in a composition.

"Pugno took a keen interest in my work, my progress and career. A few
sentences culled here and there from the many letters of his which I
have preserved, may serve to throw more light on the inner nature of the

"'I have endeavored to make clear to your young mind the thoughts
expressed in music, so that your understanding and your emotions also
might grow; all this has created a link of gratitude in you and an
affection within me. I have opened the windows for you and have given
you light, and I have reaped the satisfaction of my sowing.'

"'Hear all the music you can--do not miss any of the pianists either
good or bad; there is always something to be learned, even from a poor
player--if it is only what to avoid! Study great works, but even in
those there are some figures and phrases which need not be brought into
the foreground, lest they attain too much significance.'

"(After playing with Hans Richter's Orchestra): 'What intoxication of
sound--what exhilaration and collaboration in music! What a force within
us, which sways us and throbs through us, developing and expressing
each sentiment and instinct! What art can be compared to music, which
finds expression through this medium, called an orchestra. I feel myself
greater amid the orchestra, for I have a giant to converse with. I keep
pace with him, I lead him where I will--I calm him and I embrace him. We
supplement each other; in a moment of authority I become his master and
subdue him. The piano alone is too small for me; it does not tempt me to
play it except under such conditions--with a grand orchestra!'"




A prominent figure in the musical life of Paris is Thuel Burnham,
pianist and teacher.

Mr. Burnham is an American, who for a number of years has made his home
in Paris. He has studied with the greatest masters of his instrument on
both sides of the water. More than this he is a musical thinker who has
worked out things for himself, amalgamating what he has found best in
other methods with what he has discovered in his own experience. He has
been able to simplify the whole fabric of technical material, so there
is no time lost in useless labor.

As a pianist Mr. Burnham takes high rank. Technical difficulties do not
exist for him. He has come to the last turning of the road; before him
rise the heights of supreme spiritual mastery. A touch that is limpid,
clear, and capable of many gradations of tints; splendid power in
_fortissimo_; delicacy, velocity and variety are all his; together with
all this he has a sympathetic insight into the mood and meaning of the
composer. Of late he has been giving several recitals of a semi-private
nature, at which he has brought out some of the larger works in his
repertoire. These recitals have taken place in his charming studios, and
it was my good fortune to be present when two concertos were played, the
MacDowell in D minor, and the Grieg in A minor. Mr. Burnham is a warm
admirer of the works of our great American composer, and has prepared an
entire program of MacDowell's music, which included the Tragica Sonata,
Polonaise, and many of the shorter pieces.

In a conversation with Mr. Burnham in regard to methods of teaching, he
gave many helpful points, explaining how he had reduced technical
difficulties to a minimum through the exercise of a few simple


"The position and condition of the hand varies according to the
character of the music, and the tone you wish to produce. If you give
out a melody, you want a full, luscious tone, the weight of arm on the
key, everything relaxed, and a clinging, caressing pressure of finger.
Here then, you have the 'Melody Hand,' with outstretched, flat fingers.
If, on the contrary, you want rapid passage work, with clear, bright,
articulate touch, the hand must stand up in well-arched, normal playing
position, with fingers well rounded and good finger action. Here you
have the 'Technical' or 'Coloratura Hand.'


"The Melody Hand is weighty and 'dead,' so to speak. The touch is made
with flat fingers; the ball of the finger comes in contact with the key,
the whole arm, hand and fingers are relaxed--as loose as possible. You
caress the keys as though you loved them, as though they were a very
part of you; you cling to them as to something soft, velvety or
downy--with pressure, pressure, pressure, always."

(This illustration recalled to the listener's mind one of Kitty
Cheatham's stories, the one about the little girl caressing a pet
kitten. She was asked which she loved best--her mother or the kitten.
"Of course I love her best," was the rather hesitating answer; "but I
love kitty too--and she has _fur_!")

"To acquire the melody touch, I teach it with the simplest exercises,
sometimes with only single tones. When the idea is apprehended, the
pupil works it out in some lyric piece, like a _Song without Words_, by

"There are three touches for melody playing: First, the _down touch_,
made by descending arm and hand; second, the _up touch_, made by
elevating the wrist, while the finger lies upon the key; third, the
_wiping-off touch_, which draws the finger off the key, with an arm and
hand movement.


"The technical hand employs finger touch and finger action; the hand is
held up, in military position, so to speak; the finger movements are
quick, alert and exact; the hand is _alive_, not dead and heavy, as is
the melody hand. The two ways of playing are quite opposite in their
fundamental character, but they can be modified and blended in endless

"For the technical or coloratura touch, the hand is in arched position,
the five fingers are well rounded and curved, their tips are on the
keys, everything is rounded. When a finger is lifted, it naturally
assumes a more rounded position until it descends to the same spot on
the key from which it was lifted, as though there were five little
imaginary black spots on the keys, showing exactly where the finger-tips
should rest. The fingers are lifted cleanly and evenly and _fall_ on the
keys--no hitting nor striking. I make a great distinction between the
coloratura touch and the melody touch. The first is for rapid, brilliant
passage work, sparkling, glittering, iridescent--what you will--but
cold. It is made, as I said, with arched hand and raised finger action.
Melody touch expresses warmth and feeling; is from the heart. Then there
are the down and up arm movements, for chords, and, of course, scale and
arpeggio work, with coloratura touch. I generally expect pupils who come
to me to go through a short course of preparatory study with my
assistant, Miss Madeleine Prosser, who has been with me for years, and
does most thorough work in this line.


"Many pupils come to me with no very definite ideas as to touch and what
they may express through it. They think if they _feel_ a passage
sufficiently, they will be able to use the right touch for it. Sometimes
they may be able to hit upon the effect they want, but they don't know
quite how they got it, nor can they repeat it another time at will. I
believe the principles governing certain touches can be so thoroughly
learned and assimilated that _when the player sees a certain passage, he
knows at once what touch is required to express it._ A great actor
illustrates what I mean--he knows how to employ his features and body to
express the thought of his lines. When you go to the Theatre Français in
Paris, you know every member of the company is thoroughly trained in
every phase of his art. You are aware that each actor has studied
expression to such an extent that the features naturally fall into the
required lines and curves whenever a certain emotion comes up for
expression. So with the pianist--he should have the various touches at
his finger-tips. The step beyond is to express himself, which he will do
easily and naturally, when his has such a preparation as I have referred


"I am often questioned on the subject of memorizing. Some pupils think
if they play the piece a sufficient number of times they will know it;
then are troubled because they cannot at all times remember the notes.
Such players must know every note of the piece away from the piano, and
be able to recite them. I have students who are able to learn their
music away from the instrument, and can play it to me without having
tried it on the piano. I require the piece so thoroughly memorized that
if I correct a measure or phrase, the pupil can go right on from that
point, without being obliged to start farther back, or at the beginning.
In some cases, however, if the pupil has her own method of committing to
memory, and it is successful, I have no desire to change it.


"For octave study, form the hand with the 'octave grimace,'--that is
with arched hand, the unemployed fingers slightly curved. In staccato
touch of course use light wrist. Begin with one beat in sixteenths and
finish with the 'wiping off' touch. Build up more and more beats in
notes of the same value, always ending the passage with the same touch,
as above mentioned. This exercise can be played the full length of the
keyboard, in all keys, and also chromatically. It can be played in the
same fashion, using four-voiced chords instead of octaves. When such an
exercise can be prolonged for twenty minutes at a time, octave passages
in pieces have no terrors for the pianist. For the octaves in Chopin's
Polonaise Op. 53, he would merely have to learn the notes, which can be
done away from the piano; there is no need for exhaustive practise of
the passage.


"In order to keep repertoire in repair, one should have it arranged so
that old pieces are gone over once a week. Group your repertoire into
sections and programs. It might be well to begin the week with Chopin,
playing through the whole list; after which pick out the weak places,
and practise those. Tuesday, take Schumann, and treat him in the same
way. Then comes Liszt, Russian music, modern composers, concertos, and
chamber music. In this systematic way the whole repertoire is kept up.


"My mornings are given up to practise, my afternoons to teaching. Of
these practise hours, at least one hour is given to technic, scales,
arpeggios, octaves, chords--and Bach! I believe in taking one selection
of Bach, say a Two-voiced Invention, and perfecting it, playing it in
various ways--transposing it into all keys and polishing it to the
highest degree possible. The B flat Invention is a useful one for this
treatment. So with études; instead of playing _at_ so many, is it not
better to perfect a few and bring them up to the highest degree of

"I am very susceptible to color, anywhere, in anything--especially in
pictures. Music should express color. Certain compositions seem to
embody certain colors. As you suggest, red is certainly the motif of
Chopin's great Polonaise, Op. 53."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Burnham should certainly look forward to success in his visit to his
native land. His fine touch and tone, sincere and musicianly style, and
buoyant, genial personality will make friends for his art and himself




When one has read with pleasure and profit the published ideas of a
musical worker and thinker, it is always an interesting experience to
meet such an one personally, and have the opportunity to discuss points
of special import, particularly when the meeting can take place in some
ideal spot in the old world. Such was my thought in visiting Mr. Edwin
Hughes, an American who has made a name and place for himself among the
pianists and teachers of Europe. After years of study in Vienna with
Leschetizky, where he also acted as one of the _Vorbereiters_, he has
established himself in Munich, where he feels he has found a true home
of music and art. Here, amid beautiful and artistic surroundings, he
lives and works, dividing his time between teaching and concert playing.
As a pianist Mr. Hughes has met with gratifying success in the most
important cities of Germany, while as a teacher he has been sought by
students from almost every State in America, from Maine to Texas, and
also from Canada. What has given him special satisfaction is that during
the past year a number of pupils have come to him from the Conservatory
here in Munich. They have been greatly pleased with their progress, only
regretting they had not come to him before.

As to whether he uses the Leschetizky method in its entirety, Mr. Hughes
testified in the affirmative.

"If you were to ask Leschetizky about the 'Leschetizky Method,' he would
probably laugh and tell you he has no method, or he would tell you his
'method' consists of only two things--firm fingers and pliable wrist.

"These are the principles upon which I base the technical training of my
pupils. I first establish an arched hand position, and then test the
firmness of the fingers and knuckle joints by tapping them. At first the
joints, particularly the nail joints, are very apt to sink in when
tapped by a lead pencil; but by having the pupil continue the tapping
process at home, it is not long before he acquires the feeling of
conscious firmness in his fingers.

"Along with this exercise it is most important to begin at once with
wrist exercises, as otherwise, from the effort to acquire firmness of
finger, the wrist may become stiff and unwieldy. The wrist exercises
consist in raising and lowering this joint, with the hand and arm
supported first on each finger separately, then on two, three, four and
five fingers. The wrist should not be so limp as to be incapable of
resistance; but rather it should be like a fine steel spring--a
'spring-wrist,' I call it--capable of every degree of resistance or
non-resistance the quality of tone demands.

"High finger action is not so necessary for beginners as most piano
teachers imagine. It is much easier to teach pupils to raise their
fingers high, than it is to teach them the acquisition of the _legato_
touch at the piano, which is only to be attained by playing close to the
keys, without raising the fingers. It is difficult to get pupils to play
a perfect _legato_ who have had years of training with high finger
action, something which should be taken up for _non-legato_ and
_staccato_ finger work _after_ the more difficult _legato_ touch has
been mastered.


"The subject of tone production is one which is much neglected by piano
teachers. Viewed from this standpoint the piano is an instrument apart
from every other, except in some respects the organ. A young violinist,
'cellist or flutist has to study for some time before he can produce a
tone of good musical quality on his instrument. Think what the beginner
on the violin has to go through before he can make a respectable middle
C; but anybody, even a totally unmusical person, can play middle C on
the piano without the least trouble. It is just this ease in tone
production at the piano which leads to carelessness as to the _kind_ of
tone produced; and so piano teachers, above all others, complain they
cannot get their pupils to listen to what they are playing. Pupils
should be made to listen, by means of a special course in tone
production, which should go hand in hand with the technical exercises
used at the very beginning. Otherwise they imagine they are making music
when they place the printed page on the rack, and set the correct keys
in motion.

"There is no other instrument with which it is so easy to 'bluff' a
large part of the audience; for the character of the piano is such that
the general public often think it fine music if the player makes a big
noise. Pianists of considerable reputation often take advantage of this
lack of discrimination on the part of piano-recital audiences, which,
above all the other audiences, seem peculiarly incapable of judging
correctly the musical value of a performance.

"Of the hundreds of piano recitals which take place yearly in the
musical centers of Europe, only a comparatively small number are of real
musical interest. In many cases it seems as though the players were
merely repeating something learned by rote, in an unknown language; just
as though I should repeat a poem in Italian. The words I might pronounce
after a fashion, but the meaning of most of them would be a blank to
me--so how could I make others understand them.


"The subject of rhythm is an important one, and more attention should be
given it. Leschetizky once said that tones and rhythm are the only
things which can keep the piano alive as a solo instrument. I find in
pupils who come to me so much deficiency in these two subjects, that I
have organized classes in ear-training and rhythm.

"If pupils have naturally a poor sense of rhythm, there is no remedy
equal to practising with a metronome, using this instrument of torture
daily until results are evident, when, of course, there must be a
judicious slowing down in its use. The mechanical sense of rhythm, the
ability to count three or four to a measure, and to group the notes of a
piece correctly, can be taught to any person, if one has the patience;
but for those delicate rhythmic _nuances_ required by a Chopin mazurka
or a Viennese waltz, a specific rhythmic gift must be possessed by the

"Leschetizky says little to his pupils on the subject of technic; I
cannot remember his having spoken a dozen words to me on the subject,
during all the time I have known him. His interest, of course, lies
wholly in the matter of interpretation, and technic comes into
consideration only as a means and never as an end.

"Leschetizky likes to have the player talk to him, ask questions, do
anything but sit still and not speak. 'How do I know you comprehend my
meaning,' he asks, 'that you understand what I am talking about, if you
say nothing?' At first a student may be silent from nervousness, but if
he is bright he will soon 'catch on,' and see what is expected of him.
Leschetizky says sometimes: 'When the Lord made the ten commandments He
omitted the eleventh, "Thou shalt not be stupid."' If one is not very
quick, one may have a hard time with this master.

"As a high school in technic I use Joseffy's _School of Advanced Piano
Playing_ with my pupils. This work leads to the highest possible
technical development at the keyboard, and I consider it the last word
in piano technic. The hundreds of exercises have been devised with most
wonderful ingenuity, and the musicianship of the author stands out on
every page. The book is not a dry series of technics but has vital
connection with all the big technical problems found in the literature
of the piano.

"In teaching, I consider a second piano an absolute necessity. There are
so many things in piano playing which cannot be put into words, and the
teacher must constantly illustrate. How can one teach the interpretation
of a Chopin nocturne, for instance, by merely talking about it. I can
say, 'play loud here--soft there'; but how far do such directions go
toward an artistic conception of the piece? One cannot indicate the
swell of a melody, the tonal and rhythmic _nuance_ of a _groupetto_--and
a thousand other things in any other way than by the living example.
Through imitation one learns rapidly and surely, until one reaches the
point where the wings of one's own individuality begin to sprout.


"On the subject of memorizing who can lay down rules for this
inexplicable mental process, which will hold good for every one? For
myself, I hear the notes mentally, and know their position on the
keyboard. In actual performance much must be left to finger memory, but
one must actually have the notes in his mind as well as in his fingers.
Before a concert I go over all my program mentally, and find this an
excellent method of practise when traveling from one city to another. To
those who study with me I say, you must try various methods of
memorizing; there is no universal way; each must find out by experiment
which is most suited to his individual case.

"With some pianists visual memory of the printed page plays the
principal rôle in memorizing; with others visual memory of the notes on
the keyboard; with still others ear-memory, or memory of the harmonic
progressions. I believe in making the pupil familiar with all these
different ways, so that he may find out which one is most helpful to

"For pupils with weak hands and arms I recommend simple gymnastic
exercises to be done morning and evening. Physical strength is a very
necessary essential for a brilliant technic; the student who would
accomplish big things must possess it in order to succeed.


"The only way to keep one's technic in repair is to be constantly
working at it. Technic is the mechanical part of music-making; to keep
it in good working order one must be constantly tinkering with it, just
as the engine driver tinkers with his locomotive or the chauffeur with
his automobile. In the course of his technical study every intelligent
pupil will recognize certain exercises which are particularly important
for the mechanical well-being of his playing; from these exercises he
will plan his daily schedule of technical practise.

"In order to keep a large repertoire going at the same time, one must
have a weekly practise plan, which will allow for a frequent repetition
of the pieces. Those pieces which have been recently added to one's list
will require more frequent repetition, while those which have been
played for a longer period may be left for an occasional brushing up.
Frequent playing before others, either publicly or privately, is above
everything else to be recommended to the pianist, as the greatest
incentive to keeping up his repertoire and toward growing in his art.


"In America many people who have little talent study music, intending to
make it their profession; whereas in Europe there is such a profusion of
music and music-making that only those of more than average gifts think
of making music their life work. In America we are still 'in the
making,' from a musical standpoint, and although we have accomplished
much there is still much to be done. It is the office of the piano
teacher in America to make music study easy and interesting to pupils of
moderate ability. Just these conditions have brought about very
excellent methods of piano and music study for American children, which
have no counterpart in Europe."




As a man's surroundings and environment are often reflections of his
character, it is always a matter of deep interest to get in touch with
the surroundings of the creative or executive musician. To meet him away
from the glare of the footlights, in the privacy and seclusion of the
home, gives one a far more intimate knowledge of the artist as a man.
Knowing how difficult it often is to obtain such an opportunity, I can
be the more thankful that this privilege has been granted me many times,
even with those artists who hold themselves most aloof. I was told
Busoni was exceedingly difficult to approach, and the only way I could
see him was to call at his house quite unannounced, when I might have
the good fortune to find him at home and willing to see me. Not wishing
to take him by storm in this way, I quietly waited, until I received the
following note: "While I am not fond of interviews, if you will come to
tea on Thursday afternoon, you will be welcome."

Busoni is located in a stately _Wohnung_ overlooking the handsome
Victoria Luise Platz, in the newer western section of Berlin. Mme.
Busoni met us as we arrived, and conducted us to the master, who rose
from a cozy nook in a corner of the library to greet us. Tea was soon
brought in and our little party, which included a couple of other
guests, was soon chatting gaily in a mixture of French, German and

During the sprightly chat I could not help glancing from time to time
around the great library in which we sat, noting its artistic
furnishings, and the rows upon rows of volumes in their costly bindings,
which lined the walls. One appreciates what Dr. Johnson meant when he
said that whenever he saw shelves filled with books he always wanted to
get near enough to them to read their titles, as the choice of books
indicates character.

Presently Busoni turned to me: "I am composing a rhapsodie on American
Indian themes."

"And where did you capture the themes?" he was asked.

[Illustration: Ferruccio Busoni]

"From a very charming lady, a countrywoman of yours, Miss Natalie
Curtis. She has taken great interest in the idea and has been most
helpful to me."

"One of the German music papers announced that you are about to leave
Berlin, and have accepted an offer elsewhere--was it in Spain?"

"I intend leaving Berlin for a time," he admitted, "and will go to
Bologna--perhaps you thought that was in Spain," with a sly side glance
and a humorous twinkle in his eyes. "My offer from Bologna appears most
flattering. I am appointed head of the great conservatory, but I am not
obliged to live in the city, nor even to give lessons. I shall, however,
go there for a time, and shall probably teach. I am to conduct six large
orchestral concerts during the season, but aside from this I can be
absent as much as I wish. We shall probably close up our house here and
go to Italy in the autumn. Living is very cheap in Bologna; one can rent
a real palace for about $250 a year."

Mme. Busoni now invited us to inspect other parts of the house. We
passed to the adjoining room, which contains many rare old prints and
paintings and quaint old furniture--"everything old," as Mme. Busoni
said, with a smile. In this room stands a harpsichord, with its double
keyboard and brilliant red case. It is not an antique but an excellent
copy made by Chickering.

Farther on is a veritable musician's den, with upright piano, and with a
large desk crowded with pictures and mementoes. On the walls hang rare
portraits chiefly of Chopin and Liszt. Beyond this room came the salon,
with its two grand pianos side by side. This is the master's teaching
and recital room, and here are various massive pieces of richly carved
furniture. Mme. Busoni called our attention to the elaborate chandelier
in old silver, of exquisite workmanship, which, she said, had cost her a
long search to find. There are several portraits here of the
composer-pianist in his youth--one as a boy of twelve, a handsome
lad--_bildschön_, with his curls, his soulful eyes and his big white

Busoni soon joined us in the salon and the conversation was turned to
his activities in the new field.

"When you have finished the new rhapsodie you will come and play it to
us in America--and in London also," he was urged.

"Ah, London! I am almost homesick for London; it is beautiful there. I
am fond of America, too. You know I lived there for some years; my son
was born there; he is an American citizen. Yes, I will return, though
just when I do not yet know, and then I will assuredly play the




Another opportunity to see the home of an artist was afforded me when
Frl. Aus der Ohe invited me to visit her in her Berlin home. She also
lives in the newer western portion of the city, where so many other
artists are located. One feels on entering the spacious rooms that this
home has the true German atmosphere. Adele Aus der Ohe, whose
personality is well remembered in America, on account of her various
pianistic tours, now wears her brown hair softly drawn down over her
ears, in Madonna fashion, a mode which becomes her vastly.

"My time is divided between playing in concert, composing, and my own
studies," began the artist. "I give almost no lessons, for I have not
time for them. I never have more than a couple of pupils studying with
me at one time; they must be both talented and eager. The amount of time
I consider necessary for practise depends, of course, on quickness of
comprehension. In general, I may say four, or at most five hours are
quite sufficient, If used with absolute concentration. The quality of
practise is the great essential. If the passage under consideration is
not understood, a thousand times going over it will be only vain
repetitions; therefore, understand the construction and meaning of the
passage in the beginning, and then a thousand repetitions ought to make
it perfect.

"There is so much practise which can be done away from the instrument,
by reading the notes from the printed page and thinking about them. Is
this understood in America? Always _listen_ to your playing, to every
note you make on the piano; I consider this point of the very first
importance. My pupils are generally well advanced or are those who
intend making music a profession. I have, however, occasionally taken a
beginner. This point of listening to every note, of training the ear,
should stand at the very foundation.


"In regard to hand position, I endeavor not to be narrow and pedantic.
If pupils play with good tone and can make reasonably good effects, I
take them, at the point where they are and try to bring them forward,
even if the hand position is not just what I would like. If I stop
everything and let them do nothing but hand position, they will be
discouraged and think they are beginning all over again. This beginning
again is sometimes detrimental. To take a pupil at his present point,
and carry him along was also Liszt's idea. He did not like to change a
hand position to which the player has grown accustomed for one which
seems unnatural, and which the pianist has to work a long time to
acquire. He felt that one's time could be spent to more advantage. There
are so many legitimate positions, each hand is a separate study, and is
apt to take the position most natural to itself.

"I shall play numerous concerts and recitals in Europe the coming
season, but shall not be in America. I know your country well as I have
made several tours and have lived there. I left it the last time under
sad circumstances, as my sister, who always accompanied me, had just
passed away after quite a long illness. So you see I have not much zest
to return.

"However I am fond of America, and admire the great progress you are
making in music and art. And you have the courage of your convictions;
you do not admire a musical work simply because some one else says you
should, or the critics tell you to. You do not ask your neighbor's
opinion before you applaud it. If you do not like it you are not afraid
to say so. Even when it is only ragtime that pleases you, you are not
afraid to own up to it. When you learn what is better you say so. It Is
this honesty which leads to progressive results. You are rapidly
becoming competent to judge what is best. I have found the most
appreciative audiences in America."

Miss Aus der Ohe had much to relate of the Woman's Lyceum. The
Department of Music was founded by Aus der Ohe herself. Not long ago
there was an exhibition of woman's work in music. Women composers from
all over the country sent examples of their work. Our own Mrs. H.A.A.
Beach, who has been located for some time in Munich, was well
represented. There are branches of this institution in other German

Several paintings of large size and striking originality hang on the
walls of the pianist's home. They all illustrate religious themes and
are the work of Herr Aus der Ohe, the pianist's only brother, who passed
away at the height of his career.

"Yes," said the composer, "my mother, brother and sister have been taken
away, since I was last in America, and now I am quite alone; but I have
my art."




Eleanor Spencer, whose first American tour is announced for the coming
season, happened to be in Berlin during my visit there. I found her in
her charming apartments in the Schönberg section of the city, far away
from the noise and bustle of traffic. Her windows look out upon a wide
inner court and garden, and she seems to have secured the quiet,
peaceful environment so essential to an artist's development. Indeed
Miss Spencer has solved the problems of how to keep house, with all the
comforts of an American home, in a great German city.

"I grew so tired of living in _pensions_ that I took this little
apartment over two years ago," she said, "and I like it so much better.

"I have been away from America for nine years, so the foreign cities
where I have lived seem almost more like home to me than my native land,
to which I have only paid two short visits during those nine years. But
I love America, and perhaps you can imagine how eagerly I am looking
forward to my coming tour.

"The first eight years of my life were spent in Chicago, and then my
family moved to New York. Here I studied with Dr. William Mason. When I
was about fifteen I went to Europe for further study, and although I had
another master at first, it was not so very long before I went to
Vienna, to Leschetizky, for I felt the need of more thorough preparation
than I had yet had. There is nothing like a firm technical foundation;
it is a rock to build upon; one cannot do great things without it. I
have had to labor hard for what I have attained, and am not ashamed to
say so. I practise 'all my spare time,' as one of my colleagues
expresses it; though, of course, if one studies with the necessary
concentration one cannot practise more than five hours to advantage.

[Illustration: To Miss Brower in appreciation and pleasant remembrance
of our Berlin meeting ...ELEANOR SPENCER]

"I thoroughly believe in practising technic outside of pieces; I have
always done so and still continue to do it. This brings the hand into
condition, and keeps it up to the mark, so that difficult compositions
are more readily within the grasp, and the technical requirements in
them are more easily met. When the hand is in fine condition, exhaustive
technical practise in pieces is not necessary, and much wear and tear of
nerve force is saved. In this technical practise, to which I give an
hour or more daily, I use very simple exercises, but each one contains
some principle of touch, movement or condition. Hand over thumb and
thumb under hand; different qualities of tone; staccato or clinging
touch; scales, arpeggios and various other forms are used. Part of the
technic study period is always given to Bach.

"I began my studies in Vienna with Mme. Bree, to get the preparatory
foundation, but before long combined her lessons with those of the
professor, and later went to him entirely."

"Just here I should like to mention a trifling point, yet it seems one
not understood in America by those who say they are teachers of the
Leschetizky method. These teachers claim that the professor wishes the
fingers placed on a straight line at the edge of the keys, and in some
cases they place the tip of the thumb in the middle of its key, so that
it extends considerably beyond the tips of the other fingers. Is this
the position taught by the _Vorbereiters_, or favored by Leschetizky?"

Miss Spencer's laugh rang out merrily.

"This is the first I have ever heard of the idea! Such a position must
seem very strained and unnatural. Leschetizky, on the contrary, wishes
everything done in the most easy, natural way. Of course, at first, when
one is seeking to acquire strength and firmness of hand and fingers, one
must give time and thought to securing an arched hand and steady first
joints of fingers. Later, when these conditions have been thoroughly
established, the hand can take any position required. Leschetizky's hand
often lies quite flat on the keys. He has a beautiful piano hand; the
first joints of the fingers have so long been held firmly curved, that
they always keep their position, no matter what he is doing; if he only
passes his fingers through his hair, his hand is in shape.

"Leschetizky is indeed a wonderful teacher! The player, however, must
divine how to be receptive, how to enter into the master's thought, or
it may go hard with him. If he does not understand, nor grasp the
master's words he may suffer terribly during the ordeal of the lessons.
I have witnessed such scenes! Those who are equal to the situation
receive most illuminative instruction.

"I trust I do not give you the impression of being so devoted to, and
enthusiastic in, the work I enjoyed with my venerated master that I wish
to exclude other masters and schools. I think narrowness one of the most
unpleasant of traits, and one I should dread to be accused of. I see so
much good in others, _their_ ways and ideas, that, to me, all things
great and beautiful in art seem very closely related.


"How do I memorize a composition? I first play it over a few times to
become somewhat familiar with its form and shape. Then I begin to
analyze and study it, committing it by phrases, or _ideas_, one or two
measures at a time. I do not always take each hand alone, unless very
intricate; sometimes it is easier to learn both hands together. It is a
good thing to study out the melodic line, to build each phrase, to work
with it till you get it to suit you. Then come the larger proportions,
the big climaxes, which have to be thought out and prepared for in
advance. A composition should be so thoroughly your own that you can
play it at any time, if your hand is in condition. Or, if it has been
laid aside for a long time, a couple of days should bring it back.

"The subject of forming a repertoire is one often overlooked or not
understood. The repertoire should be comprehensive and built on broad
lines. A pupil intending to make music a profession should know the
literature of the piano, not only the small and unimportant works of the
great composers (as is too often the case), but the big works as well.
If one is well grounded in the classics at an early age, it is of great
benefit afterwards.


"For gaining power, heavy chords are very beneficial; combinations of
five notes that take in all the fingers are most useful.

"The principle of velocity is the doing away with all unnecessary
movement--raising the fingers as little as possible, and so on. But in
early stages of study, and at all times for slow practise, exactness and
clearness, the fingers must be raised, Leschetizky _is a great believer
in finger action; he holds it to be absolutely necessary for finger

"I have been concertizing for the last three years, and studying alone.
This does not mean I have learned all the masters can teach, but only
that I have come to a place where I felt I had to go alone, that I must
work out what is in me. No master can teach us that; we have to find
ourselves alone.

"I shall probably play considerably with orchestra next season. There is
a Concerto by Rimsky-Korsakow which is quite short, only one movement.
It Is charming and brilliant, and I think has not yet been played in
America. There is also a new work by Stavenhagen for piano and
orchestra, which is a novelty on the other side. I greatly enjoy playing
with orchestra, but of course I shall play various recitals as well."

Miss Spencer has appeared with the best orchestras in England and on the
continent, and has everywhere received commendation for her pure,
singing tone, plastic touch, and musical temperament. She is certain to
have success in America, and to win hosts of friends there.




"A pianist, like a painter, should have an infinitude of colors on his
palette," remarked Arthur Hochman, the young Russian pianist, in a
recent chat about piano playing. He should paint pictures at the
keyboard, just as the artist depicts them upon the canvas. The piano is
capable of a wonderful variety of tonal shading, and its keys will
respond most ideally to the true musician who understands how to awaken
and bring forth all this tonal beauty from the instrument.

"The modern pianist is often lacking in two important
essentials--phrasing and shading. Inability to grasp the importance of
these two points may be the cause of artistic failure. An artist should
so thoroughly make his own the composition which he plays, and be so
deeply imbued with its spirit, that he will know the phrasing and
dynamics which best express the meaning of the piece. When he has risen
to such heights, he is a law to himself in the matter of phrasing, no
matter what marks may stand upon the printed page. As a rule the editing
of piano music is extremely inadequate, though how can it really be
otherwise? How is it possible, with a series of dots, lines, dashes and
accents, to give a true idea of the interpretation of a work of musical
art? It is _not_ possible; there are infinite shadings between _piano_
and _forte_--numberless varieties of touch which have not been tabulated
by the schools. Great editors like von Bülow, Busoni and d'Albert have
done much to make the classics clearer to the student; yet they
themselves realize there are a million gradations of touch and tone,
which can never be expressed by signs nor put into words.


"Four things are necessary for the pianist who would make an artistic
success in public. They are: Variety of tone color; Individual and
artistic phrasing; True feeling; Personal magnetism. Colors mean so much
to me; some are so beautiful, the various shades of red, for instance;
then the golden yellows, rich, warm browns, and soft liquid blues. We
can make as wonderful combinations with them as ever the painters do.
To me dark red speaks of something tender, heart-searching, mysterious."
Here Mr. Hochman illustrated his words at the piano with an expressive
fragment full of deep feeling. "On the other hand, the shades of yellow
express gaiety and brightness"; here the illustrations were all life and
fire, in crisp, brilliant staccatos. Other colors were just as
effectively represented.

"What I have just indicated at the keyboard," continued the artist,
"gives a faint idea of what can be done with tone coloring, and why I
feel that pianists who neglect this side of their art, or do not see
this side of it, are missing just so much beauty. I could name one
pianist, a great name in the world of music--a man with an absolutely
flawless technic, yet whose playing to me, is dry and colorless; it
gives you no ideas, nothing you can carry away: it is like water--water.
Another, with great variety of tonal beauty, gives me many ideas--many
pictures of tone. His name is Gabrilowitsch; he is for me the greatest


"In my own playing, when I color a phrase, I do not work up to a climax
and make that the loudest note, as most pianists do, but rather the
soft note of the phrase; this applies to lyric playing. I will show you
what I mean. Here is a fragment of two measures, containing a soulful
melody. I build up the crescendo, as you see, and at the highest point,
which you might expect to be the loudest, you find instead that it is
soft: the sharpness has been taken out of it, the thing you did not
expect has happened; and so there are constant surprises, tonal
surprises--tone colors not looked for.

"It is generally thought that a pianist should attend many recitals and
study the effects made by other pianists; I, on the contrary, feel I
gain more from hearing a great singer. The human voice is the greatest
of all instruments, and the player can have no more convincing lesson in
tone production and tone coloring, than he can obtain from listening to
a great emotional singer. The pianist should hear a great deal of opera,
for there he will learn much of color, of effect, light and shade,
action and emotion.


"The third requisite for the pianist, as I have said, is true feeling. I
have no sympathy with dry, mechanical performance, where every effect
is coldly calculated beforehand, and the player always strives to do it
the same way. How can he always play the same way when he does not feel
the same? If he simply seeks for uniformity where does the inspiration
come in?

"The true artist will never give a mechanical performance. At one time
he may be in a tender, melting mood; at another in a daring or exalted
one. He must be free to play as he feels, and he will be artist enough
never to overstep bounds. The pianist who plays with true feeling and
'heart' can never play the same composition twice exactly alike, for he
can never feel precisely the same twice. This, of course, applies more
especially to public performance and playing for others.

"Another essential is breath control. Respiration must be easy and
natural, no matter how much physical strength is exerted. In
_fortissimo_ and all difficult passages, the lips must be kept closed
and respiration taken through the nostrils, as it always ought to be.


"Yes, I do a great deal of teaching, but prefer to take only such pupils
as are intelligent and advanced. With pupils I am very particular about
hand position and touch. The ends of the fingers must be firm, but
otherwise the hand, wrist and arm, from the shoulder, are all relaxed.
In teaching a composition, I am immensely careful and particular about
each note. Everything is dissected and analyzed. When all is understood
and mastered, it is then ready for the stage setting, the actors, the
lights, and the colors!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"I was intended for a pianist from the first. Born in Russia, I
afterward came to Berlin, studying seven or eight years with Xaver
Scharwenka, then with d'Albert, Stavenhagen and others. But when one has
all that can be learned from others, a man's greatest teacher is
himself. I have done a great deal of concert work and recital playing in
Europe, and have appeared with the leading orchestras in the largest
cities of America."

Mr. Hochman has done considerable work in composition. Numerous songs
have been published and doubtless larger works may be expected later.




A music critic remarked, "That ever youthful and fascinating pianist,
Teresa Carreño is with us again."

I well remember how fascinated I was, as a young girl, with her playing
the first time I heard it--it was so full of fire, enthusiasm,
brilliancy and charm. How I longed and labored to imitate it--to be able
to play like that! I not only loved her playing but her whole
appearance, her gracious manner as she walked across the stage, her air
of buoyancy and conscious mastery as she sat at the piano; her round
white arms and wrists, and--the red sash she wore!

During a recent talk with Mme. Carreño, I recalled the above incident,
which amused her, especially the memory of the sash.

[Illustration: TERESA CARREÑO]

"I assure you that at heart I feel no older now than in the days when I
wore it," she said. The conversation then turned to questions of
mastering the piano, with particular reference to the remarkable
technic of the artist herself.

"The fact that I began my studies at a very early age was a great
advantage to me," she said. "I loved the sound of the piano, and began
to pick out bits of tunes when I was little more than three. At six and
a half I began to study seriously, so that when I was nine I was playing
such pieces as Chopin's Ballade in A flat. Another fact which was of the
utmost advantage to me was that I had an ideal teacher in my father. He
saw that I loved the piano, and decided I must be properly taught. He
was passionately fond of music, and if he had not been a statesman,
laboring for the good of his country, he would undoubtedly have been a
great musician. He developed a wonderful system for teaching the piano,
and the work he did with me I now do with my pupils. For one thing he
invented a series of stretching and gymnastic exercises which are
splendid; they did wonders for me, and I use them constantly in my
teaching. But, like everything else, they must be done in the right way,
or they are not beneficial.


"My father wrote out for me a great many technical exercises; to be
exact, there were 580 of them! Some consisted of difficult passages
from the great composers--perhaps originally written for one hand--which
he would arrange for two hands, so that each hand had the same amount of
work to do. Thus both my hands had equal training, and I find no
difference between them. These 580 exercises took just three days to go
through. Everything must be played in all keys, and with every possible
variety of touch--legato, staccato, half-staccato, and so on; also, with
all kinds of shading."

(Think of such a drill in pure technic, O ye teachers and students, who
give little or no time to such matters outside of études and pieces!)

"Part of my training consisted in being shown how to criticize myself. I
learned to listen, to be critical, to judge my own work; for if it was
not up to the mark I must see what was the matter and correct it myself.
The earlier this can be learned the better. I attribute much of my
subsequent success to this ability. I still carry out this plan, for
there on the piano you will find all the notes for my coming recitals,
which I work over and take with me everywhere. This method of study I
always try to instill into my pupils. I tell them any one can make a
lot of _noise_ on the piano, but I want them, to make the piano _speak_!
I can do only a certain amount for them; the rest they must do for


"Another item my zealous teacher insisted upon was transposing. I
absorbed this idea almost unconsciously, and hardly know when I learned
to transpose, so natural did it seem to me. My father was a tactful
teacher; he never commanded, but would merely say, 'You can play this in
the key of C, but I doubt if you can play it in the key of D.' This
doubt was the spur to fire my ambition and pride: I would show him I
could play it in the key of D, or in any other key; and I did!

"With all the technic exercises, I had many études also; a great deal of
Czerny. Each étude must also be transposed, for it would never do to
play an étude twice in the same key for my father. So I may say that
whatever I could perform at all, I was able to play in any key.

"For one year I did nothing but technic, and then I had my first piece,
which was nothing less than the Capriccio of Mendelssohn, Op. 22. So you
see I had been well grounded; indeed I have been grateful all my life
for the thorough foundation which was laid for me. In these days we hear
of so many 'short cuts,' so many new methods, mechanical and otherwise,
of studying the piano; but I fail to see that they arrive at the goal
any quicker, or make any more thorough musicians than those who come by
the royal road of intelligent, well-directed hard work."

Asked how she obtained great power with the least expenditure of
physical strength, Mme. Carreño continued:

"The secret of power lies in relaxation; or I might say, power _is_
relaxation. This word, however, is apt to be misunderstood. You tell
pupils to relax, and if they do not understand how and when they get
nowhere. Relaxation does not mean to flop all over the piano; it means,
rather, to loosen just where it is needed and nowhere else. For the
heavy chords in the Tschaikowsky Concerto my arms are absolutely limp
from the shoulder; in fact, I am not conscious I have arms. That is why
I can play for hours without the slightest fatigue. It is really mental
relaxation, for one has to think it; it must be in the mind first before
it can be worked out in arms and hands. We have to think it and then act

"This quality of my playing must have impressed Breithaupt, for, as you
perhaps know, it was after he heard me play that he wrote his famous
book on 'Weight Touch,' which is dedicated to me. A second and revised
edition of this work, by the way, is an improvement on the first. Many
artists and musicians have told me I have a special quality of tone; if
this is true I am convinced this quality is the result of controlled

I referred to the artist's hand as being of exceptional adaptability for
the piano.

"Yes," she answered, "and it resembles closely the hand of Rubinstein.
This brings to mind a little incident. As a small child, I was taken to
London, and on one occasion played in the presence of Rubinstein; he was
delighted, took me under his wing, and introduced me all about as his
musical daughter. Years afterward we came to New York, and located at
the old Clarendon Hotel, which has housed so many men of note. The first
day at lunch, my aunt and I were seated at a table mostly occupied by
elderly ladies, who stared at us curiously. I was a shy slip of a girl,
and hardly ventured to raise my eyes after the first look around the
room. Beside me sat a gentleman. I glanced at his hand as it rested on
the table--then I looked more closely; how much it reminded me of
Rubinstein's hand! My eyes traveled slowly up to the gentleman's
face--it was Rubinstein! He was looking at me; then he turned and
embraced me, before all those observing ladles!"

We spoke of Berlin, the home of the pianist, and of its musical life,
mentioning von Bülow and Klindworth. "Both good friends of mine," she
commented. "What a wonderful work Klindworth has accomplished in his
editions of Beethoven and Chopin! As Goethe said of himself, we can say
of Klindworth--he has carved his own monument in this work. We should
revere him for the great service he has done the pianistic world.

"I always love to play in America, and each time I come I discover how
much you have grown. The musical development here is wonderful. This
country is very far from being filled with a mercenary and commercial
spirit. If Europeans think so it is because they do not know the
American at home. Your progress in music is a marvel! There is a great
deal of idealism here, and idealism is the very heart and soul of music.

"I feel the artist has such a beautiful calling--a glorious message--to
educate a people to see the beauty and grandeur of his art--of the




"How do I produce the effects which I obtain from the piano?"

The young German artist, Willielm Bachaus, was comfortably seated in his
spacious apartments at the Ritz, New York, when this question was asked.
A grand piano stood close at hand, and the pianist ran his fingers
lightly over its keys from time to time, or illustrated some technical
point as he talked.

"In answer I would say I produce them by listening, criticizing,
judging--working over the point, until I get it as I want it. Then I can
reproduce it at will, if I want to make just the same effect; but
sometimes I want to change and try another.

[Illustration: WILHELM BACHAUS]

"I am particular about the seat I use at the piano, as I sit lower than
most amateurs, who in general are apt to sit too high. My piano stool
has just been taken out for a few repairs, or I could show you how low
it is. Then I am old-fashioned enough to still believe in scales and
arpeggios. Some of the players of the present day seem to have no use
for such things, but I find them of great importance. This does not
necessarily mean that I go through the whole set of keys when I practise
the scales; but I select a few at a time, and work at those. I start
with ridiculously simple forms--just the hand over the thumb, and the
thumb under the hand--a few movements each way, especially for
arpeggios. The principle I have referred to is the difficult point; a
few doses of this remedy, however, bring the hand up into order again."

The pianist turned to the keyboard and illustrated the point very

"As you see, I slant the hand considerably across the keys," he said,
"but this oblique position is more comfortable, and the hand can
accommodate itself to the intervals of the arpeggio, or to the passing
of the thumb in scales. Some may think I stick out the elbow too much,
but I don't care for that, if by this means the scale becomes smooth and


"I have to overhaul my technic once or twice a week, to see that
everything is all right--and of course the scales and arpeggios come in
for their share of criticism. I practise them in legato, staccato and in
other touches, but mostly in legato, as that is somewhat more difficult
and more beautiful than the others.

"Perhaps I have what might be called a natural technic; that is I have a
natural aptitude for it, so that I could acquire it easily, and it stays
with me. Hofmann has that kind of natural technic; so has d'Albert. Of
course I have to practise technic; I would not allow it to lapse; I love
the piano too much to neglect any part of the work. An artist owes it to
himself and the public to keep himself up in perfect condition--for he
must never offer the public anything but the best. I only mean to say I
do not have to work at it as laboriously as some others have to do.
However, I practise technic daily, and will add that I find I can do a
great deal in a short time. When on tour I try to give one hour a day to
it, not more."

Speaking of the action of fingers, Mr. Bachaus continued:

"Why, yes, I raise my fingers whenever and wherever necessary--no more.
Do you know Breithaupt? Well, he does not approve of such technical
exercises as these (illustrating); holding down some fingers and lifting
others, for technical practise, but I do. As for the metronome, I
approve of it to cultivate the sense of rhythm in those who are lacking
in this particular sense. I sometimes use it myself, just to see the
difference between the mechanical rhythm and the musical rhythm--for
they are not always the same by any means.

"Do you know these Technical Exercises of Brahms? I think a great deal
of them, and, as you see, carry them around with me; they are excellent.

"You ask me about octaves. It is true they are easy for me now, but I
can remember the time when they were difficult. The only alternative is
to work constantly at them. Of course they are more difficult for small
hands; so care must be taken not to strain nor over-tire the hand. A
little at a time, in frequent doses, ought in six months to work
wonders. Rowing a boat is good to develop wrists for octave playing.

"You ask if I can tell how I obtain power. That is a very difficult
question. Why does one child learn to swim almost immediately, while
another cannot master it for a long time? To the first it comes
naturally--he has the _knack_, so to speak. And it is just so with the
quality of power at the piano. It certainly is not due to physique, nor
to brute strength, else only the athlete would have sufficient power.
No, it is the 'knack,' or rather it is the result of relaxation, as you

"Take the subject of velocity. I never work for that special thing as
some do. I seldom practise with great velocity, for it interferes with
clearness. I prefer to play more slowly, giving the greatest attention
to clearness and good tone. By pursuing this course I find that when I
need velocity I have it.

"I am no pedagogue and have no desire to be one. I have no time for
teaching; my own studies and concert work fill all my days. I do not
think that one can both teach and play successfully. If I were teaching
I should no doubt acquire the habit of analyzing and criticizing the
work of others; of explaining and showing just how a thing should be
done. But I am not a critic nor a teacher, so I do not always know how I
produce effects. I play 'as the bird sings,' to quote an old German


"Your MacDowell has written some nice music, some pretty music; I am
familiar with his Concerto in D minor, some of the short pieces and the
Sonatas. As for modern piano concertos there are not many, it is quite
true. There is the Rachmaninoff, the MacDowell I mentioned, the D minor
of Rubinstein, and the Saint-Saens in G minor. There is also a Concerto
by Neitzel, which is a most interesting work; I do not recall that it
has been played in America. I have played it on the other side, and I
may bring it out here during my present tour. This Concerto is a fine
work, into which the author has put his best thought, feeling and


As I listened to the eloquent reading of the Brahms second Concerto,
which Mr. Bachaus gave soon afterward with the New York Symphony, I was
reminded of a memorable event which occurred during my student days in
Berlin. It was a special concert, at which the honored guest and soloist
was the great Brahms himself. Von Bülow conducted the orchestra, and
Brahms played his second Concerto. The Hamburg master was not a
virtuoso, in the present acceptance of the term: his touch on the piano
was somewhat hard and dry; but he played the work with commendable
dexterity, and made an imposing figure as he sat at the piano, with his
grand head and his long beard. Of course his performance aroused immense
enthusiasm; there was no end of applause and cheering, and then came a
huge laurel wreath. I mentioned this episode to Mr. Bachaus a few days

"I first played the Brahms Concerto in Vienna under Hans Richter; he had
counseled me to study the work. The Americans are beginning to admire
and appreciate Brahms; he ought to have a great vogue here.

"In studying such a work, for piano and orchestra, I must not only know
my own part but all the other parts--what each instrument is doing. I
always study a concerto with the orchestral score, so that I can see it
all before me."




Among American teachers Alexander Lambert takes high rank. For over
twenty-five years he has held aloft the standard of sound musicianship
in the art of teaching and playing. A quarter of a century of thorough,
conscientious effort along these lines must have left its impress upon
the whole rising generation of students and teachers in this country,
and made for the progress and advancement of American art.

It means much to have a native-born teacher of such high aims living and
working among us; a teacher whom no flattery nor love of gain can
influence nor render indifferent to the high aim ever in view. There is
no escaping a sound and thorough course of study for those who come
under Mr. Lambert's supervision. Scales must be, willingly or
unwillingly, the daily bread of the player; the hand must be put in
good shape, the finger joints rendered firm, the arms and body supple,
before pieces are thought of. Technical study must continue along the
whole course, hand in hand with piece playing; technic for its own sake,
outside the playing of compositions. And why not? Is the technic of an
art ever quite finished? Can it ever be laid away on the shelf and
considered complete? Must it not always be kept in working order?

"Have you not seen many changes in the aims of students, and in the
conditions of piano teaching in New York, during the years you have
taught here?" I asked Mr. Lambert, in the course of a recent

"Some changes, it is true, I have seen," he answered; "but I must also
say that the conditions attending piano teaching in America are
peculiar. We have some excellent teachers here, teachers who can hold
their own anywhere, and are capable of producing finished artists. Yet
let a pupil go to the best teacher in this country, and the chances are
that he or she is still looking forward to 'finishing' with some
European artist. They are not satisfied until they have secured the
foreign stamp of approval. While this is true of the advanced pianist,
it is even more in evidence in the mediocre player. He, too, is
dreaming of the 'superior advantages,' as he calls them, of European
study. He may have no foundation to build upon--may not even be able to
play a scale correctly, but still thinks he must go abroad!

"You ask if I think students can obtain just as good instruction here as
in Europe? That is a little difficult to answer off-hand. I fully
believe we have some teachers in America as able as any on the other
side; in some ways they are better. For one thing they are morally
better--I repeat, _morally_ better. For another they are more thorough:
they take more interest in their pupils and will do more for them. When
such a teacher is found, he certainly deserves the deep respect and
gratitude of the American student. But alas, he seldom experiences the
gratitude. After he has done everything for the pupil--fashioned him
into a well-equipped artist, the student is apt to say: 'Now I will go
abroad for lessons with this or that famous European master!' What is
the result? He may never amount to anything--may never be heard of
afterward. On the other hand, I have pupils coming to me, who have been
years with some of the greatest foreign masters, yet who are full of
faults of all kinds, faults which it takes me years to correct. Some of
them come with hard touch, with tense position and condition of arms and
body, with faulty pedaling, and with a lack of knowledge of some of the
fundamental principles of piano playing.


"How do I teach them to acquire power with little effort? Relaxation is
the whole secret. Your arm is really quite heavy, it weighs
considerable. Act on this principle then: let the arms fall with their
full weight on the keys, and you will have all the power you need,
provided the fingers are rounded and firm. That is the other half of the
secret. The finger joints must be firm, especially the third joint. It
stands to reason there can be no power, no brilliancy when this joint is
wavering and wobbling.

"I teach arched hand position, and, for children and beginners, decided
finger action; the fingers are to be raised, in the beginning, though
not too high. Some teachers may not teach finger action, because they
say artists do not use it. But the artist, if questioned, would tell you
he had to learn finger action in the beginning. There are so many stages
in piano playing. The beginner must raise his fingers in order to
acquire finger development and a good, clear touch. In the middle stage
he has secured enough finger control to play the same passage with less
action, and still perform it with sufficient clearness; while in the
more finished stage the passage may be played with scarcely any
perceptible motion, so thoroughly do the fingers respond to every mental

"Sometimes pupils come to me who do not know scales, though they are
playing difficult compositions. I insist on a thorough knowledge of
scales and arpeggios, and a serious study of Bach. I use almost
everything Bach ever wrote for the piano; the Two and Three Part
Inventions, French and English Suites, Well-tempered Clavichord, and the
organ Preludes and Fugues, arranged by Liszt."




Each year, as Mme. Bloomfleld Zeisler plays for us, we feel the growth
of a deeper experience, a clearer insight into human nature, a broader
outlook and grasp on art and life. Such a mentality, ever seeking for
truth and the sincerest expression of it, must continually progress,
until--as now--the greatest heights are reached. Mme. Zeisler is no
keyboard dreamer, no rhapsodist on Art. She is a thoroughly practical
musician, able to explain as well as demonstrate, able to talk as well
as play. Out of the fulness of a rich experience, out of the depth of
deepest sincerity and conviction the artist speaks, as she plays, with
authority and enthusiasm.

[Illustration: With sincerest good wishes Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler
Chicago Dec 30 14]

"The first thing to be done for a pupil is to see that the hand is in
correct position. I explain that the wrist should be about on a level
with the second joint of the middle finger, when the fingers are
properly rounded. The knuckles will then be somewhat elevated; in fact
they will naturally take care of themselves, other points of the hand
being correct. Two things are of supreme importance: namely, firm finger
joints and loose wrists; these must be insisted on from the very
beginning. I sometimes use firm wrists in my own playing, if I wish to
make a certain effect; but I can safely affirm, I think, that no one has
ever seen me play with weak, bending fingers.


"Piano technic includes so much; everything goes into it--arithmetic,
grammar, diction, language study, poetry, history, and painting! In the
first stages there are rules to be learned, just as in any other study.
In school we had to learn the rules of grammar and mathematics. Just
such rules are applicable to musical performance. I must know the rules
of versification in order to scan poetic stanzas; so I must know the
laws of rhythm and meter to be able to punctuate musical phrases and
periods. Pupils who have long passed the stage of division and fractions
do not seem able to determine the time-values of the various notes and
groups of notes used in music; they do not know what must be done with
triplets, dotted notes, and so on. So you see 'just technic' includes a
multitude of things; it is a very wide subject.


"Each pupil presents a different problem as to physical formation of
hand and body, intelligence and talent. Those who are the most talented
do not always prove the most satisfactory students. They grasp the
composer's ideas quickly enough, it is true, so that sometimes in a few
days, they can take up a difficult composition and clash it off with
such showy effect as to blind the eyes of the superficial listener; but
these students are not willing to work out the fine points of the piece
and polish it artistically. Neither are they willing to get right down,
to the bed rock of technic and work at that seriously and thoroughly. If
this course is suggested they grow restive, think they are being held
back, and some times prefer to study with a more superficial teacher.
The consequence is they never really amount to anything; whereas if
these same players possessed perseverance along with their talent they
could become great artists. I would rather have an intelligent, earnest,
serious pupil, who is obedient and willing to work, than a very gifted
pupil. The two seldom go together. When you find both in one person, a
marvelous musician is the result, if assisted by the right sort of


"One thing a teacher should insist upon, and that is that the pupil
should study harmony. He should have a practical working knowledge of
keys, chords, and progressions. There may be no need for him to study
orchestration or composition, but he must know the foundation and
structure of the material of music. My pupil must be familiar with the
various chords of the scale and know how to analyze them, before I can
make clear to him the rules of pedaling. Without this knowledge, my
words about the use of the pedals are as so much Greek to him. He must
go and learn this first, before coming to me.


"Experience counts for much with the teacher, but much, more with the
pianist. The beginner must go according to rule, until he has thoroughly
mastered the rules. He must not think because he sees a great artist
holding his hands a certain way at times--turning under his unemployed
fingers for octaves perhaps, or any other seeming eccentricity, that he
himself is at liberty to do the same things. No, he must learn to play
in a normal, safe way before attempting any tricks. What may seem
eccentric to the inexperienced student may be quite a legitimate means
of producing certain effects to the mature artist, who through wide
experience and study knows just the effect he wants and the way to make
it. The artist does many things the pupil should not attempt. The artist
knows the capabilities of his own hand; his technic is, in a certain
sense, individual; it should not be imitated by the learner of little or
no experience. If I play a chord passage with high wrist, that I may
bring out a certain effect or quality of tone at that point, the
thoughtless student might be under the impression that a high wrist was
habitual with me, which is not true. For this reason I do not give
single lessons to any one, nor coach on single pieces. In the case of
the interpretation of a piece, a student can get the ideas of it from
hearing it in recital, if he can grasp and assimilate them.


"Interpretation! That is a wide subject; how can it be defined? I try to
arouse the imagination of the student first of all. We speak of the
character of the piece, and try to arrive at some idea of its meaning.
Is it _largo_--then it is serious and soulful; is it _scherzo_--then it
should be blithe and gay. We cannot depend on metronome tempi, for they
are not reliable. Those given in Schumann are generally all wrong. We
try to feel the rhythm of the music, the swing of it, the spirit of it.
In giving out the opening theme or subject, I feel it should be made
prominent, to arrest attention, to make it clear to the listener; when
it appears at other times in the piece, it can be softened or varied.
Variety of effect we must have; but whether a passage is played with
decreasing or increasing tone, whether this run is soft and the next
loud, or vice versa, does not matter so much as to secure variety and
individuality. I may look at it one way, another player an opposite way.
One should be broad-minded enough to see the beauty of each
interpretation. I do not expect my pupils to copy me or do things just
as I do them. I show them how I do it, then leave them to work it out
as they see it.

"_Pianissimo_ is one of the later things to teach. A beginner should not
attempt it too soon, for then it will only result in flabbiness. A true
_pianissimo_ is not the result of weakness but of strength.


"America has made marvelous progress in the understanding and
appreciation of music; even the critics, many of them, know a great deal
about music. The audiences, even in small towns, are a pleasure and
delight to play to. I am asked sometimes why I attempt the last sonata
of Beethoven in a little town. But just such audiences listen to that
work with rapt attention; they hang on every note. How are they to learn
what is best in music unless we are willing to give it to them?

"The trouble with America is that it does not at all realize how much it
knows--how much talent is here. We are so easily tricked with a foreign
name and title; our serious and talented musicians are constantly being
pushed to the wall by some unknown with a name ending in _ski_. These
are the people who tour America (for one season at least), who get the
best places in our music schools and colleges, crowding out our native
musicians. It makes me very bitter against this utterly mistaken and
fallacious idea of ours. I have many talented students, who come to me
from all over the country. Some of them become most excellent concert
artists. If I recommend them to managers or institutions, should not my
word count for something? Ought I not to know what my students can do,
and what is required of a concert artist? But instead of their securing
an engagement, with such a recommendation, a foreigner with the
high-sounding name is the one invariably chosen. When I first started on
my career I endeavored in every way to get a proper hearing in America.
But not until I had made a name for myself in Europe was I recognized
here, in my own land. All honor to those who are now fighting for the
musical independence of America!"


Not long after the above conversation with Mme. Zeisler, I jotted down
some questions, leading to further elucidation of her manner of teaching
and playing, and sent them to her. The artist was then fully occupied
with her long and arduous tours and later went to Europe. My questions
remained unanswered for nearly a year. When she next played in New York,
she sent for me to come to her hotel. As she entered the room to greet
me, she held in her hand the paper containing the questions. I expressed
surprise that she had preserved the bit of paper so long.

"I am very conscientious," she answered; "I have kept this ever since
you sent it, and now we will talk over the topics you suggest."

(1) What means do you favor for gaining power?

"I can say--none. There is no necessity for using special means to
acquire power; when everything is right you will have sufficient power;
you cannot help having it. If you know the piece thoroughly, your
fingers have acquired the necessary strength through efficient practise,
so that when the time comes to make the desired effects, you have the
strength to make them, provided everything is as it should be with your
technic. Power is a comparative term at best; one pianist may play on a
larger scale than another. I am reminded of an amusing incident in this
connection. My son Paul, when a little fellow, was fond of boasting
about his mother; I could not seem to break him of it. One day he got
into an argument with another boy, who asserted that his father, an
amateur pianist, could play better than Paul's mother, because he 'could
play louder, anyway.' I don't know whether they fought it out or not;
but my boy told me about the dispute afterward.

"'What do you think makes a great player?' I asked him.

"'If you play soft enough and loud enough, slow enough and fast enough,
and it sounds nice,' was his answer. It is the whole thing in a
nutshell: and he was such a little fellow at the time!

"As I said, you must have everything right with your technic, then both
power and velocity will come almost unconsciously."

(2) What do you do for weak finger joints?

"They must be made strong at once. When a new pupil comes to me the
first thing we do is to get the hand into correct position, and the
fingers rounded and firm. If the pupil is intelligent and quick, this
can be accomplished in a few weeks; sometimes it takes several months.
But it must be done. Of what use is it to attempt a Beethoven sonata
when the fingers are so weak that they cave in. The fingers must keep
their rounded position and be strong enough to bear up under the weight
you put upon them. As you say, this work can be done at a table, but I
generally prefer the keyboard; wood is so unresponsive.

"I think, for this work, children are easier to handle than their
elders; they have no faults to correct; they like to hold their hands
well and make them look pretty. They ought to have a keyboard adapted to
their little delicate muscles, with action much less heavy than two
ounces, the minimum weight of the clavier. As they grow and gain
strength, the weight can be increased. If they should attempt to use my
instrument with its heavy action, they would lame the hand in a few
moments or their little fingers could not stand up under the weight."

(3) Do you approve of finger action?

"Most emphatically. Finger action is an absolute essential in playing
the piano. We must have finger development. As you say, we can never
make the fingers equal in themselves; we might practise five hundred
years without rendering the fourth finger as strong as the thumb. Rather
let us learn to so adjust the weight and pressure of each finger, that
all will sound equal, whenever we wish them to do so. I tell my pupils
that in regard to strength, their fingers are in this relation to each
other," and the pianist drew with her pencil four little upright lines
on the paper, representing the relative natural weight of the four
fingers. "The fifth finger," she said, "figures very little in scale or
passage playing. By correct methods of study the pupil learns to lighten
the pressure of the stronger fingers and proportionately increase the
weight of the weaker fingers."

(4) Do you approve of technic practise outside of pieces?

"I certainly do. The amount of time given to technic study varies with
the pupil's stage of advancement. In the beginning, the whole four hours
must be devoted to technic practise. When some degree of facility and
control have been attained, the amount may be cut down to two hours.
Later one hour is sufficient, and when one is far advanced a very short
time will suffice to put the hand in trim; some rapid, brilliant
arpeggios, or an étude with much finger work may be all that is

"The player gains constantly in strength and technical control while
studying pieces, provided correct methods are pursued. Every piece is
first of all a study in technic. The foundation must be rightly laid;
the principles can then be applied to étude and piece."

(5) What do you consider the most vital technical points?

"That is a difficult question, involving everything about piano playing.
There are the scales of all kinds, in single and double notes. Arpeggios
are of great importance, because, in one form or another, they
constantly occur. Octaves, chords, pedaling, and so on."

"The trill, too," I suggested.

"Yes, the trill; but, after all, the trill is a somewhat individual
matter. Some players seem to have it naturally, or have very little
trouble with it; others always have more or less difficulty. They do not
seem able to play a rapid, even trill. Many are unable to finish it off
deftly and artistically. They can trill for a certain number of
repetitions; when they become accustomed to the monotonous repetition it
is not so easy to go into the ending without a break."

(6) What means do you advise to secure velocity?

"I make the same answer to this question that I made to the first--none.
I never work for velocity, nor do I work _up_ velocity. That is a
matter that generally takes care of itself. If you know the piece
absolutely, know what it means and the effects you want to make, there
will be little difficulty in getting over the keys at the tempo
required. Of course this does not apply to the pupil who is playing
wrong, with weak fingers, uncertain touch and all the rest of the
accompanying faults. I grant that these faults may not be so apparent in
a piece of slow tempo. A pupil may be able to get through Handel's
Largo, for instance; though his fingers are uncertain he can make the
theme sound half-way respectable, while a piece in rapid tempo will be
quite beyond him. The faults were in the Largo just the same, but they
did not show. Rapid music reveals them at once. Certain composers
require almost a perfect technical equipment in order to render their
music with adequate effect. Mozart is one of these. Much of his music
looks simple, and is really quite easy to read; but to play it as it
should be played is another thing entirely. I seldom give Mozart to my
pupils. Those endless scales, arpeggios and passages, which must be
flawless, in which you dare not blur or miss a single note! To play this
music with just the right spirit, you must put yourself _en rapport_
with the epoch in which it was written--the era of crinoline, powdered
wigs, snuffboxes and mincing minuets. I don't mean to say Mozart's music
is not emotional; it is filled with it, but it is not the emotion of
to-day, but of yesterday, of more than a century back.

"For myself, I love Mozart's music. One of my greatest successes was in
a Mozart concerto with the Chicago Orchestra. I afterward remarked to
one of my colleagues that it had been one of the most difficult tasks I
had ever accomplished. 'Yes, when one plays Mozart one is so _exposed_,'
was his clever rejoinder."

(7) How do you keep repertoire in repair?

"If you mean my own, I would answer that I don't try to keep all my
pieces up, for I have hundreds and hundreds of them, and I must always
save time to study new works. A certain number are always kept in
practise, different programs, according to the requirements of the hour.
My method of practise is to play slowly through the piece, carefully
noting the spots that are weak and need special treatment. To these I
give a certain number of repetitions, and then repeat the whole to see
if the weak places are equal in smoothness to the rest. If not, they
must have more study. But always slow practise. Only occasionally do I
go through the piece at the required velocity.

"My pupils are always counseled to practise slowly. If they bring the
piece for a first hearing, it must be slowly and carefully played; if
for a second or third hearing, and they know it well enough to take it
up to time, they can play it occasionally at this tempo before coming to
me. But to constantly play a piece in rapid tempo is very harmful; it
precludes all thought of analysis, of _how_ you are doing it. When you
are playing at concert speed, you have no time to think of fingering,
movement or condition--you are beyond all that. It is only in slow
practise that you have time and opportunity to think of everything.

"As an illustration, take the case of a pianist in a traveling concert
company. He must play the same pieces night after night, with no
opportunity to practise between. For the first few days the pieces go
well; then small errors and weak spots begin to appear. There is no time
for slow practise, so each nightly repetition increases the uncertainty.
In a few months his playing degenerates so it is hardly fit to listen
to. This is the result of constant fast playing."

(8) How do you keep technic up to the standard?

"If one is far advanced a few arpeggios and scales, or a brilliant étude
will put the hand in condition. After one has rested, or had a vacation,
some foundational exercises and finger movements may be necessary, to
limber up the muscles and regain control and quickness. One may often
have to review first principles, but technical facility is soon regained
if it has once been thoroughly acquired. If one has stopped practise for
quite a period, the return is slower, and needs to be more carefully

"I use considerable Czerny for technical purposes, with my pupils. Op.
299, of course, and even earlier or easier ones; then Op. 740. A few of
the latter are most excellent for keeping up one's technic. The Chopin
Studies, too, are daily bread."

(9) The best way to study chords?

"From the wrist and with fingers of steel Small hands must of course
begin with smaller positions."

(10) What gymnastic exercises do you suggest?

"Whatever seems necessary for the special hand. Tight hands need to be
massaged to limber the fingers and stretch the web of flesh between
them. The loose, flabby hand may also be strengthened and rendered firm
by massage; but this is often a more difficult task than to stretch the
right hand. If technical training is properly given, it is sure to
render the hand flexible and strong."




One of the busiest of New York piano teachers, whose list of students
taking private lessons in a season, almost touches the hundred mark, is
Mrs. Agnes Morgan. Mrs. Morgan has been laboring in this field for more
than two decades, with ever increasing success. And yet so quietly and
unobtrusively is all this accomplished, that the world only knows of the
teacher through the work done by her pupils. The teacher has now risen
to the point where she can pick and choose her own pupils, which is a
great comfort to her, for it dispels much of the drudgery of piano
teaching, and is one of the reasons why she loves her work.

When one teaches from nine in the morning till after six every day of
the season, it is not easy to find a leisure hour in which to discuss
means and methods. By a fortunate chance, however, such an interview was
recently possible.

The questions had been borne in upon me: By what art or influence has
this teacher attracted so large a following? What is it which brings to
her side not only the society girl but the serious art-student and young
teacher? What is the magnet which draws so many pupils to her that five
assistants are needed to prepare those who are not yet ready to profit
by her instruction? When I came in touch with this modest, unassuming
woman, who greeted me with simple cordiality, and spoke with quiet
dignity of her work, I felt that the only magnet was the ability to
impart definite ideas in the simplest possible way.

"Dr. William Mason, with whom I studied," began Mrs. Morgan, "used to
say that a musical touch was born, not made; but I have found it
possible to so instruct a pupil that she can make as beautiful a tone as
can be made; even a child can do this. The whole secret lies in arm and
wrist relaxation, with arched hand, and firm nail joint.


"I feel that Dr. Mason himself was the one who made me see the reason of
things. I had always played more or less brilliantly, for technic came
rather easy to me. I had studied in Leipsic, where I may say I learned
little or nothing about the principles of piano playing, but only
'crammed' a great number of difficult compositions. I had been with
Moszkowski also; but it was really Dr. Mason, an American teacher, who
first set me thinking. I began to think so earnestly about the reason
for doing things that I often argued the points out with him, until he
would laugh and say, 'You go one way and I go another, but we both reach
the same point in the end.' And from that time I have gone on and on
until I have evolved my own system of doing things. A teacher cannot
stand still. I would be a fool not to profit by the experience gained
through each pupil, for each one is a separate study. This has been a
growth of perhaps twenty-five years--as the result of my effort to
present the subject of piano technic in the most concise form. I have
been constantly learning what is not essential, and what can be omitted.


"Simplicity Is the keynote of my work. I try to teach only the
essentials. There are so many études and studies that are good, Czerny,
for instance, is splendid. I believe in it all, but there is not time
for much of it. So with Bach. I approve of studying everything we have
of his for piano, from the 'Little Pieces' up to the big Preludes and
Fugues. Whenever I can I use Bach. But here again we have not time to
use as much of Bach as we should like. Still I do the best I can. Even
with those who have not a great deal of time to practise, I get in a
Bach Invention whenever possible.

"When a new pupil comes who is just starting, or has been badly taught,
she must of course begin with hand formation. She learns to form the
arch of the hand and secure firm finger joints, especially the nail
joint. I form the hand away from the piano, at a table. Nothing can be
done toward playing till these things are accomplished. I often have
pupils who have been playing difficult music for years, and who consider
themselves far advanced. When I show them some of these simple things,
they consider them far too easy until they find they cannot do them.
Sometimes nothing can be done with such pupils until they are willing to
get right down to rock bottom, and learn how to form the hand. As to the
length of time required, it depends on the mentality of the pupil and
the kind of hand. Some hands are naturally very soft and flabby, and of
course it is more difficult to render them strong.


"When the arch of the hand is formed, we cultivate intelligent movement
in the finger tips, and for this we must have a strong, dependable nail
joint. Of course young students must have knuckle action of the fingers,
but I disapprove of fingers being raised too high. As we advance, and
the nail joint becomes firmer and more controlled, there is not so great
need for much finger action. Velocity is acquired by less and less
action of the fingers; force is gained by allowing arm weight to rest on
the fingers; lightness and delicacy by taking the arm weight off the
fingers--holding it back.

"I use no instruction books for technical drill, but give my own
exercises, or select them from various sources. Certain principles must
govern the daily practise, from the first. When they are mastered in
simple forms later work is only development. Loose wrist exercises, in
octaves, sixths, or other forms, should form a part of the daily
routine. So should scale playing, for I am a firm believer in scales of
all kinds. Chords are an important item of practise. How few students,
uninstructed in their principles, ever play good chords? They either
flap the hand down from the wrist, with a weak, thin tone, or else they
play with stiff, high wrists and arms, making a hard, harsh tone. In
neither case do they use any arm weight. It often takes some time to
make them see the principles of arm weight and finger grasp.


"Another point which does not receive the attention it deserves is
pedaling. Few students have a true idea of the technic of the foot on
the pedal. They seem to know only one way to use the damper pedal, and
that is to come down hard on it, perhaps giving it a thump at the same
time. I give special preparatory exercises for pedal use. Placing the
heel on the floor, and the forepart of the foot on the pedal, they learn
to make one depression with every stroke of the metronome; when this can
be done with ease, then two depressions to the beat, and so on. In this
exercise the pedal is not pressed fully down; on the contrary there is
but a slight depression; this vibration on the pedal has the effect of a
constant shimmering of light upon the tones, which is very beautiful."
Here the artist illustrated most convincingly with a portion of a Chopin
Prelude. "One needs a flexible ankle to use the pedal properly; indeed
the ankle should be as pliant as the wrist. I know of no one else who
uses the pedal in just this fashion; so I feel as though I had
discovered it.

"Yes, I have numbers of pupils among society people; girls who go out a
good deal and yet find time to practise a couple hours a day. The
present tendency of the wealthy is to take a far more serious view of
music study than was formerly the case. They feel its uplifting and
ennobling influence, respect its teachers, and endeavor to do carefully
and well whatever they attempt.

"While necessary and important, the technical foundation is after all
but a small part compared to the training for rhythmic sense, and for
the knowledge of how to produce good and beautiful results in musical




Eugene Heffley, the Founder and first President of the MacDowell Club,
of New York, a pianist and teacher of high ideals and most serious aims,
came to New York from Pittsburg, in 1900, at the suggestion of MacDowell
himself. He came to make a place for himself in the profession of the
metropolis, and has proved himself a thoroughly sincere and devoted
teacher, as well as a most inspiring master; he has trained numerous
young artists who are winning success as pianists and teachers.

Mr. Heffley, while entertaining reverence for the older masters, is very
progressive, always on the alert to discover a new trend of thought, a
new composer, a new gospel in musical art. He did much to make known and
arouse enthusiasm for MacDowell's compositions, when they were as yet
almost unheard of in America. In an equally broad spirit does he
introduce to his students the works of the ultra modern school, Debussy,
Rachmaninoff, Florent Schmitt, Reger, Liadow, Poldini and others.

"My students like to learn these new things, and the audiences that
gather here in the studio for our recitals, come with the expectation of
being enlightened in regard to new and seldom heard works, and we do not
disappoint them. Florent Schmitt, in spite of his German surname, is
thoroughly French in his manner and idiom, though they are not of the
style of Debussy; he has written some beautiful things for the piano; a
set of short pieces which are little gems. I rank Rachmaninoff very
highly, and of course use his Preludes, not only the well-known
ones--the C and G minor--but the set of thirteen in one opus number;
they are most interesting. I use a good deal of Russian music; Liadow
has composed some beautiful things; but Tschaikowsky, in his piano
music, is too complaining and morbid, as a rule, though he is
occasionally in a more cheerful mood. It seems as though music has said
all it can say along consonant lines, and regular rhythms. We must look
for its advancement in the realm of Dissonance; not only in this but in
the way of variety in Rhythm. How these modern composers vary their
rhythms, sometimes three or four different ones going at once! It is the
unexpected which attracts us in musical and literary art, as well as in
other things: we don't want to know what is coming next; we want to be

"Of the classic literature, I use much Bach, when I can. I used to give
more Mozart than I do now; latterly I have inclined toward Haydn; his
Variations and Sonatas are fine; my students seem to prefer Haydn also.
I thoroughly believe in the value of polyphonic music as a mental study;
it is a necessity. And Bach is such a towering figure, such a rock of
strength in musical art. Bach was essentially a Christian, and this
element of devoutness, of worship, shines out in everything he wrote. I
do not believe that music, without this element of worship, will live.
Tschaikowsky did not have it, nor Berlioz, nor even Mozart, for Mozart
wrote merely from the idea of sheer beauty of sound; in that sense he
was a pagan. I doubt if Strauss has it. One cannot foresee how the
future will judge the music of to-day; what will it think of Schönberg?
I am holding in abeyance any opinion I might form regarding his work
till I have had more time to know it better. I can only say I have
heard his string Quartet three times. The first time I found much in it
to admire; the second time I was profoundly moved by certain parts of
it, and on the third occasion I felt that the work, especially the
latter part, contained some of the most beautiful music I had ever
listened to.

"In regard to the technical training my pupils receive, it is not so
easy to formulate my manner of teaching. Each pupil is a separate study,
and is different from every other. As you well know, I am not a 'method
man': I have little use for the so-called piano method. To be a true
teacher of the piano is a high calling indeed; for there are many
pedagogues but comparatively few real teachers. I make a distinction
between the two. A pedagogue is one who, filled with many rules and much
learning, endeavors to pour his knowledge into the pupil; whereas the
true teacher seeks to draw out what is in the pupil. He strives to find
what the pupil has aptitude for, what he likes to do and can do best.
The teacher must be something of a psychologist, or how can he correctly
judge of the pupil's temperament, his tastes, his mentality, and what to
do for him?

"When a new pupil comes, I must make a mental appraisement of his
capacity, his likelihood to grasp the subject, his quickness of
intelligence, his health, and so on. No two pupils can be treated in the
same way. One who has little continuity, who has never followed out a
serious line of thought in any direction, must be treated quite
differently from one of an opposite mentality and experience. It would
be useless to give Bach to the first pupil, it would only be a waste of
time and patience: he could not comprehend the music in any sense; he
would have no conception of the great things that Bach stands for. Such
a course of treatment would only make him hate music; whereas to one of
a more serious and thoughtful turn of mind, you might give any amount of

"A student with a poor touch and undeveloped hand, must go through a
regular course of training. The hand is first placed in position, either
at the keyboard or on a table; the fingers are taught to start with up
movements, as the lifting muscles need special attention. A muscle or a
finger, is either _taut_, _flabby_ or _stiff_; it is the taut condition
I strive for--to make the finger responsive, like a fine steel spring.

"It is absolutely necessary to establish correct finger action at the
outset; for the sake of finger development, clearness, and accuracy.
When single fingers can make accurate up and down movements, we can put
two fingers together and acquire a perfect legato. I teach three kinds
of legato--the _passage_ legato, the _singing_ legato, and the
_accompanying_ legato; the pupil must master the first before attempting
the others. I advise technic practise with each hand alone, for you must
know I am a firm believer in the study of pure technic outside of

"As the student advances we take up chord playing with different
touches, scales, arpeggios and octaves. I institute quite early what I
call polyphonic technic--one hand doing a different movement or touch
from the other. This works out in scales and arpeggios with a variety of
touches--one hand playing a passage or scale staccato while the other
plays legato, and vice versa."

Asked if he taught technical material without a book, Mr. Heffley

"No, I generally use the Heinrich Germer work, as it covers the ground
very satisfactorily; it is compact, concise, and complete in one volume.
I also use Mertke to some extent. Every form of exercise must be worked
out in all keys; I find the books useful for all kinds of students. I
may add that I use comparatively few études.

"If the student seems to have a very imperfect rhythmic sense, I use the
metronome, but as sparingly as possible, for I want to establish the
inner sense of rhythm.

"In regard to memorizing. I give no special advice, but counsel the
student to employ the way which is easiest and most natural to him.
There are three distinct ways of committing music: the Analytic,
Photographic, and Muscular. The Analytic memory picks the passage apart
and learns just how it is constructed, and why; the Photographic memory
can see the veritable picture of the passage before the mind's eye;
while the Muscular memory lets the fingers find the notes. This is not a
very reliable method, but some pupils have to learn in this way. Of
course the Analytical memory is the best; when the pupil has the mental
ability to think music in this way, I strongly recommend it.

"One point I make much of in my teaching, and that is Tone Color, as a
distinct factor in musical interpretation. It is not merely a question
of using the marks of expression, such as FF, MF, PP, and so on; it is
more subtle than that--it is the _quality_ of tone I seek after.
Sometimes I work with a pupil for several minutes over a single tone,
until he really comprehends what he has to do to produce the right
quality of tone, and can remember how he did it. The pedal helps
wonderfully, for it is truly the 'soul of the piano.'

"Some pupils have fancy but no imagination, and vice versa. The terms
are not synonymous. Reading poetry helps to develop the aesthetic sense;
pictures help also, and nature. I must necessarily take into account the
pupil's trend of temperament while instructing him.

"Interpretative expression is not a positive but a relative quantity.
One player's palette is covered with large blotches of color, and he
will paint the picture with bold strokes; another delights in delicate
miniature work. Each will conceive the meaning and interpretation of a
composition through the lens of his own temperament. I endeavor to
stimulate the imagination of the pupil through reading, through
knowledge of art, through a comprehension of the correlation of all the

"The musical interpreter has a most difficult, exacting and far-reaching
task to perform. An actor plays one part night after night; a painter
is occupied for days and weeks with a single picture; a composer is
absorbed for the time being on one work only. The pianist, on the other
hand, must, during a recital, sweep over the whole gamut of expression:
the simple, the pastoral, the pathetic, the passionate, the
spiritual--he is called upon to portray every phase of emotion. This
seems to me a bigger task than is set before any other class of
art-workers. The pianist must be able to render with appropriate
sentiment the simplicity and fresh naïveté of the earlier classics,
Haydn, Mozart; the grandeur of Bach; the heroic measures of Beethoven;
the morbid elegance of Chopin; the romanticism of Schumann; the
magnificent splendor of Liszt.

"In choosing musical food for my pupils, I strive to keep away from the
beaten track of the hackneyed. The mistake made by many teachers is to
give far too difficult music. Why should I teach an old war-horse which
the pupil has to struggle over for six months without being really able
to master, and which he will thoroughly hate at the end of that time?
The Scherzo Op. 31, of Chopin, and the Liszt Rhapsodies he can hear in
the concert room, where he can become familiar with most of the famous
piano compositions. Why should he not learn to know many less hackneyed
pieces, which do not so frequently appear on concert programs?

"Herein lies one of the great opportunities for the broad-minded
teacher--to be individual in his work. According to his progressive
individuality will his work be valued."




"It is difficult to define such a comprehensive term as technic, for it
means so much," remarked Germaine Schnitzer the French pianist to me one
day, when we were discussing pianistic problems. "There is no special
sort or method of technic that will do for all players, for every
mentality is different; every hand is peculiar to itself, and different
from every other. Not only is each player individual in this particular,
but one's right hand may differ from one's left; therefore each hand may
require separate treatment.

"An artistic technic can be acquired only by those who have an aptitude
for it, plus the willingness to undertake the necessary drudgery;
practise alone, no matter how arduous, is not sufficient. Technic is
evolved from thought, from hearing great music, from much listening to
great players; intent listening to one's own playing, and to the effects
one strives to make. It is often said that the pianist cannot easily
judge of the tonal effects he is producing, as he is too near the
instrument. With me this is not the case. My hearing is so acute that I
know the exact dynamics of every tone, every effect of light and shade;
thus I do not have to stand at a distance, as the painter does, even if
I could do so, in order to criticize my work, for I can do this
satisfactorily at close range.

"I hardly know when I learned technic; at all events it was not at the
beginning. At the start I had some lessons with quite a simple woman
teacher. We lived near Paris, and my elder sister was then studying with
Raoul Pugno; she was a good student and practised industriously. She
said she would take me to the master, and one day she did so. I was a
tiny child of about seven, very small and thin--not much bigger than a
fly. The great man pretended he could hardly see me. I was perched upon
the stool, my feet, too short to reach the floor, rested on the
extension pedal box which I always carried around with me, I went
bravely through some Bach Inventions. When I finished, Pugno regarded me
with interest. He said he would teach me; told me to prepare some more
Inventions, some Czerny studies and the Mendelssohn Capriccio, Op. 22,
and come to him in four weeks. Needless to say, I knew every note of
these compositions by heart when I took my second lesson. Soon I was
bidden to come to him every fortnight, then every week, and finally he
gave me two lessons a week.

"For the first five years of my musical experience, I simply played the
piano. I played everything--sonatas, concertos--everything; large works
were absorbed from one lesson to the next. When I was about twelve I
began to awake to the necessity for serious study; then I really began
to practise in earnest. My master took more and more interest in my
progress and career: he was at pains to explain the meaning of music to
me--the ideas of the composers. Many fashionable people took lessons of
him, for to study with Pugno had become a fad; but he called me his only
pupil, saying that I alone understood him. I can truly say he was my
musical father; to him I owe everything. We were neighbors in a suburb
of Paris, as my parents' home adjoined his; we saw a great deal of him
and we made music together part of every day. When he toured in America
and other countries, he wrote me frequently; I could show you many
letters, for I have preserved a large number--letters filled with
beautiful and exalted thoughts, expressed in noble and poetic language.
They show that Pugno possessed a most refined, superior mind, and was
truly a great artist.

"I studied with Pugno ten years. At the end of that time he wished me to
play for Emil Saur. Saur was delighted with my work, and was anxious to
teach me certain points. From him I acquired the principles of touch
advocated by his master, Nicholas Rubinstein. These I mastered in three
months' time, or I might say in two lessons.

"According to Nicholas Rubinstein, the keys are not to be struck with
high finger action, nor is the direct end of the finger used. The point
of contact is rather just back of the tip, between that and the ball of
the finger. Furthermore we do not simply strive for plain legato touch.
The old instruction books tell us that legato must be learned first, and
is the most difficult touch to acquire. But legato does not bring the
best results in rapid passages, for it does not impart sufficient
clarity. In the modern idea something more crisp, scintillating and
brilliant is needed. So we use a half staccato touch. The tones, when
separated a hair's breadth from each other, take on a lighter, more
vibrant, radiant quality; they are really like strings of pearls. Then I
also use pressure touch, pressing and caressing the keys--feeling as it
were for the quality I want; I think it, I hear it mentally, and I can
make it. With this manner of touching the keys, and this constant search
for quality of tone, I can make any piano give out a beautiful tone,
even if it seems to be only a battered tin pan.


"Weight touch is of course a necessity; for it I use not only arms and
shoulders, but my whole body feels and vibrates with the tones of the
piano. Of course I have worked out many of these principles for myself;
they have not been acquired from any particular book, set of exercises,
or piano method; I have made my own method from what I have acquired and
experienced in ways above mentioned.


"In regard to memorizing piano music I have no set method. The music
comes to me I know not how. After a period of deep concentration, of
intent listening, it is mine, a permanent possession. You say
Leschetizky advises his pupils to learn a small portion, two or four
measures, each hand alone and away from the piano. Other pianists tell
me they have to make a special study of memorizing. All this is not for
me--it is not my way. When I have studied the piece sufficiently to play
it, I know it--every note of it. When I play a concerto with orchestra I
am not only absolutely sure of the piano part, but I also know each note
that the other instruments play. Of course I am listening intently to
the piano and to the whole orchestra during a performance; if I allowed
myself to think of anything else, I should be lost. This absolute
concentration is what conquers all difficulties.


"About practising technic for itself alone: this will not be necessary
when once the principles of technic are mastered. I, at least, do not
need to do so. I make, however, various technical exercises out of all
difficult passages in pieces. I scarcely need to look at the printed
pages of pieces I place on my recital programs. I have them with me, to
be sure, but they are seldom taken out of their boxes. What I do is to
think the pieces through and do mental work with them, and for this I
must be quiet and by myself. An hour's actual playing at the piano each
day is sufficient to prepare for a recital.

"It must not be thought that I do not study very seriously. I do not
work less than six hours a day; if on any day I fail to secure this
amount of time, I make it up at the earliest moment. During the summer
months, when I am preparing new programs for the next season, I work
very hard. As I said, I take the difficult passages of a composition and
make the minutest study of them in every detail, making all kinds of
technical exercises out of a knotty section, sometimes playing it in
forty or fifty different ways. For example, take the little piece out of
Schumann's _Carneval_, called 'The Reconnaissance.' That needed study. I
gave three solid days to it; that means from nine to twelve in the
morning, and from one to five in the afternoon. At the end of that time
I knew it perfectly and was satisfied with it. From that day to this I
have never had to give a thought to that number, for I am confident I
know it utterly. I have never had an accident to that or to any of my
pieces when playing in public. In my opinion a pianist has a more
difficult task to accomplish than any other artist. The singer has to
sing only one note at a time; the violinist or 'cellist need use but one
hand for notes. Even the orchestral conductor who aspires to direct his
men without the score before him, may experience a slip of memory once
in awhile, yet he can go on without a break. A pianist, however, has
perhaps half a dozen notes in each hand to play at once; every note must
be indelibly engraved on the memory, for one dares not make a slip of
any kind.

"An artist playing in London, Paris or New York--I class these cities
together--may play about the same sort of programs in each. The
selections will not be too heavy in character. In Madrid or Vienna the
works may be even more brilliant. It is Berlin that demands heavy, solid
meat. I play Bach there, Beethoven and Brahms. It is a severe test to
play in Berlin and win success.

"I have made several tours in America. This is a wonderful country. I
don't believe you Americans realize what a great country you have, what
marvelous advantages are here, what fine teachers, what great
orchestras, what opera, what audiences! The critics, too, are so well
informed and so just. All these things impress a foreign artist--the
love for music that is here, the knowledge of it, and the enthusiasm for
it. A worthy artist can make a name and success in America more quickly
and surely than in any country in the world.

"For one thing America is one united country from coast to coast, so it
is much easier getting about here than in Europe. For another thing I
consider you have the greatest orchestras in the world, and I have
played with the orchestras of all countries. I also find you have the
most enthusiastic audiences to be found anywhere.

"In Europe a musical career offers few advantages. People often ask my
advice about making a career over there, and I try to dissuade them. It
sometimes impresses me as a lions' den, and I have the desire to cry out
'Beware' to those who may be entrapped into going over before they are
ready, or know what to expect. Of course there are cases of phenomenal
success, but they are exceptions to the general rule.

"People go to Europe to get atmosphere (stimmung)--that much abused
term! I could tell them they make their own atmosphere wherever they
are. I have lived in music all my life, but I can say I find musical
atmosphere right here in America. If I listen to the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, or to the Kneisel Quartet, when these organizations are
giving an incomparable performance of some masterpiece, I am entirely
wrapt up in the music; am I not then in a musical atmosphere? Or if I
hear a performance of a Wagner opera at the Metropolitan, where Wagner
is given better even than in Bayreuth, am I not also in a musical
atmosphere? To be sure, if I am in Bayreuth I may see some reminiscences
of Wagner the man, or if I am in Vienna I can visit the graves of
Beethoven and Schubert. But these facts of themselves do not create a
musical atmosphere.

"You in America can well rejoice over your great country, your fine
teachers and musicians and your musical growth. After a while you may be
the most musical nation in the world."




Arthur Hochman, Russian pianist and composer, once remarked to me, in
reference to the quality of tone and variety of tonal effects produced
by the various artists now before the public:

"For me there is one pianist who stands above them all--his name is

The quality of tone which this rare artist draws from his instrument, is
unforgettable. I asked him one morning, when he was kind enough to give
me the opportunity for a quiet chat, how he produced this luscious
singing quality of tone.

"A beautiful tone? Ah, that is difficult to describe, whether in one
hour or in many hours. It is first a matter of experiment, of
individuality, then of experience and memory. We listen and create the
tone, modify it until it expresses our ideal, then we try to remember
how we did it.

"I cannot say that I always produce a beautiful tone; I try to produce
a characteristic tone, but sometimes it may not be beautiful: there are
many times when it may be anything but that. I do not think there can be
any fixed rule or method in tone production, because people and hands
are so different. What does for one will not do for another. Some
players find it easier to play with high wrist, some with low. Some can
curve their fingers, while others straighten them out. There are of
course a few foundation principles, and one is that arms and wrists must
be relaxed. Fingers must often be loose also, but not at the nail joint;
that must always be firm. I advise adopting the position of hand which
is most comfortable and convenient. In fact all forms of hand position
can be used, if for a right purpose, so long as the condition is never
cramped or stiff. I permit either a high or low position of the wrist,
so long as the tone is good. As I said, the nail joint must remain firm,
and never be crushed under by the weight of powerful chords, as is apt
to be the case with young players whose hands are weak and delicate.



"Yes, I am certainly in favor of technical practise outside of pieces.
There must be scale and arpeggio study, in which the metronome can be
used. But I believe in striving to make even technical exercises of
musical value. If scales are played they should be performed with a
beautiful quality and variety of tone; if one attempts a Czerny étude,
it should be played with as much care and finish as a Beethoven sonata.
Bring out all the musical qualities of the étude. Do not say, 'I'll play
this measure sixteen times, and then I'm done with it.' Do nothing for
mechanical ends merely, but everything from a musical standpoint. Yes, I
give some Czerny to my students; not many études however. I prefer
Chopin and Rubinstein. There is a set of six Rubinstein Studies which I
use, including the Staccato Étude.

"In regard to technical forms and material, each player may need a
different tonic. I have found many useful things in a work by your own
Dr. William Mason, _Touch and Technic_. I have used this to a
considerable extent. To my knowledge he was the first to illustrate the
principle of weight, which is now pretty generally accepted here as
well as in Europe.

"An ancient and famous philosopher, Seneca, is said to have remarked
that by the time a man reaches the age of twenty-five, he should know
enough to be his own physician, or he is a fool. We might apply this
idea to the pianist. After studying the piano for a number of years he
should be able to discover what sort of technical exercises are most
beneficial; if he cannot do so he must be a fool. Why should he always
depend on the exercises made by others? There is no end to the list of
method books and technical forms; their name is legion. They are usually
made by persons who invent exercises to fit their own hands; this does
not necessarily mean that they will fit the hands of others. I encourage
my pupils to invent their own technical exercises. They have often done
so with considerable success, and find much more pleasure in them than
in those made by others.

"Two of the most important principles in piano playing are: full, round,
exact tone; distinct phrasing. The most common fault is
indistinctness--slurring over or leaving out notes. Clearness in piano
playing is absolutely essential. If an actor essays the rôle of Hamlet,
he must first of all speak distinctly and make himself clearly
understood; otherwise all his study and characterization are in vain.
The pianist must likewise make himself understood; he therefore must
enunciate clearly.


"You speak of velocity as difficult for some players to acquire. I have
found there is a general tendency to play everything too fast, to rush
headlong through the piece, without taking time to make it clear and
intelligible. When the piece is quite clear in tone and phrasing, it
will not sound as fast as it really is, because all the parts are in
just relation to each other. As an illustration of this fact, there is a
little Gavotte of mine, which I had occasion to play several times in
Paris. A lady, a very good pianist, got the piece, learned it, then came
and asked me to hear her play it. She sat down to the piano, and rushed
through the piece in a way that so distorted it I could hardly recognize
it. When she finished I remonstrated, but she assured me that her tempo
was exactly like mine as she had heard me play the piece three times. I
knew my own tempo exactly and showed her that while it did not differ
so greatly from hers, yet my playing sounded slower because notes and
phrasing were all clear, and everything rightly balanced.


"How do I gain power? Power does not depend on the size of the hand or
arm; for persons of quite small physique have enough of it to play with
the necessary effect. Power is a nervous force, and of course demands
that arms and wrists be relaxed. The fingers must be so trained as to be
strong enough to stand up under this weight of arms and hands, and not
give way. I repeat, the nail joint must remain firm under all
circumstances. It is so easy to forget this; one must be looking after
it all the time.


"In regard to memorizing, I have no special rule or method. Committing
to memory seems to come of its own accord. Some pieces are comparatively
easy to learn by heart; others, like a Bach fugue, require hard work and
close analysis. The surest way to learn a difficult composition, is to
write it out from memory. There is a great deal of benefit in that. If
you want to remember the name of a person or a place, you write it down.
When the eye sees it, the mind retains a much more vivid impression.
This is visual memory. When I play with orchestra, I of course know
every note the orchestra has to play as well as my own part. It is a
much greater task to write out a score from memory than a piano solo,
yet it is the surest way to fix the composition in mind. I find that
compositions I learned in early days are never forgotten, they are
always with me, while the later pieces have to be constantly looked
after. This is doubtless a general experience, as early impressions are
most enduring.

"An orchestral conductor should know the works he conducts so thoroughly
that he need not have the score before him. I have done considerable
conducting the past few years. Last season I gave a series of historical
recitals, tracing the growth of the piano concerto, from Mozart down to
the present. I played nineteen works in all, finishing with the
Rachmaninoff Concerto."

Mr. Gabrilowitsch has entirely given up teaching, and devotes his time
to recital and concert, conducting, and composing.


Those who heard Hans von Bülow in recital during his American tour, in
1876, listened to piano playing that was at once learned and convincing.
A few years before, in 1872, Rubinstein had come and conquered. The
torrential splendor of his pianism, his mighty crescendos and whispering
diminuendos, his marvelous variety of tone--all were in the nature of a
revelation; his personal magnetism carried everything before it.
American audiences were at his feet.

[Illustration: HANS VON BÜLOW]

In Von Bülow was found a player of quite a different caliber. Clarity of
touch, careful exactness down to the minutest detail caused the critics
to call him cold. He was a deep thinker and analyzer; as he played one
saw, as though reflected in a mirror, each note, phrase and dynamic mark
of expression to be found in the work. From a Rubinstein recital the
listener came away subdued, awed, inspired, uplifted, but disinclined to
open the piano or touch the keys that had been made to burn and
scintillate under those wonderful hands. After hearing Von Bülow, on
the other hand, the impulse was to hasten to the instrument and
reproduce what had just seemed so clear and logical, so simple and
attainable. It did not seem to be such a difficult thing to play the
piano--like _that_! It was as though he had said: "Any of you can do
what I am doing, if you will give the same amount of time and study to
it that I have done. Listen and I will teach you!"

Von Bülow was a profound student of the works of Beethoven; his edition
of the sonatas is noted for recondite learning, clearness and exactness
in the smallest details. Through his recitals in America he did much to
make these works better known and understood. Nor did he neglect Chopin,
and though his readings of the music of the great Pole may have lacked
in sensuous beauty of touch and tone, their interpretation was always
sane, healthy, and beautiful.

Toward the end of a season during the eighties, it was announced that
Von Bülow would come to Berlin and teach an artist class in the
Klindworth Conservatory. This was an unusual opportunity to obtain
lessons from so famous a musician and pedagogue, and about twenty
pianists were enrolled for the class. A few of these came with the
master from Frankfort, where he was then located.

Carl Klindworth, pianist, teacher, critic, editor of Chopin and
Beethoven, was then the Director of the school. The two men were close
friends, which is proved by the fact that Von Bülow was willing to
recommend the Klindworth Edition of Beethoven, in spite of the fact that
he himself had edited many of the sonatas. Another proof is that he was
ready to leave his work in Frankfort, and come to Berlin, in order to
shed the luster of his name and fame upon the Klindworth school--the
youngest of the many musical institutions of that music-ridden,
music-saturated capital.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a bright May morning when the Director entered the music-room
with his guest, and presented him to the class. They saw in him a man
rather below medium height, with large intellectual head, beneath whose
high, wide forehead shone piercing dark eyes, hidden behind glasses.

He bowed to the class, saying he was pleased to see so many industrious
students. His movements, as he looked around the room, were quick and
alert; he seemed to see everything at once, and the students saw that
nothing could escape that active mentality.

The class met four days in each week, and the lessons continued from
nine in the morning until well on toward one o'clock. It was announced
that only the works of Brahms, Raff, Mendelssohn and Liszt would be
taught and played, so nothing else need be brought to the class; indeed
Brahms was to have the place of honor.

While many interesting compositions were discussed and played, perhaps
the most helpful thing about these hours spent with the great pedagogue
was the running fire of comment and suggestion regarding technic,
interpretation, and music and musicians in general. Von Bülow spoke in
rapid, nervous fashion, with a mixture of German and English, often
repeating in the latter tongue what he had said in the former, out of
consideration for the Americans and English present.

In teaching, Von Bülow required the same qualities which were so patent
in his playing. Clearness of touch, exactness in phrasing and fingering
were the first requirements; the delivery of the composer's idea must be
just as he had indicated it--no liberties with the text were ever
permitted. He was so honest, so upright in his attitude toward the
makers of good music, that it was a sin in his eyes to alter anything in
the score, though he believed in adding any marks of phrasing or
expression which would elucidate the intentions of the composer.
Everything he said or did showed his intellectual grasp of the subject;
and he looked for some of the same sort of intelligence on the part of
the student. A failure in this respect, an inability to apprehend at
once the ideas he endeavored to convey, would annoy the sensitive and
nervous little Doctor; he would become impatient, sarcastic and begin to
pace the floor with hasty strides. When in this state he could see
little that was worthy in the student's performance, for a small error
would be so magnified as to dwarf everything that was excellent. When
the lion began to roar, it behooved the players to be circumspect and
meek. At other times, when the weather was fair in the class-room,
things went with tolerable smoothness. He did not trouble himself much
about technic, as of course a pupil coming to him was expected to be
well equipped on the technical side; his chief concern was to make clear
the content and interpretation of the composition. In the lessons he
often played detached phrases and passages for and with the student,
but never played an entire composition.

One of the most remarkable things about this eccentric man was his
prodigious memory. Nearly every work for piano which could be mentioned
he knew and could play from memory. He often expressed the opinion that
no pianist could be considered an artist unless he or she could play at
least two hundred pieces by heart. He, of course, more than fulfilled
this requirement, not only for piano but for orchestral music. As
conductor of the famous Meiningen orchestra, he directed every work
given without a note of score before him--considered a great feat in
those days. He was a ceaseless worker, and his eminence in the world of
music was more largely due to unremitting labor than to genius.

From the many suggestions to the Berlin class, the following have been

"To play correctly is of the first importance; to play beautifully is
the second requirement. A healthy touch is the main thing. Some people
play the piano as if their fingers had _migrane_ and their wrists were
rheumatic. Do not play on the sides of the finger nor with a sideways
stroke, for then the touch will be weak and uncertain.

"Clearness we must first have; every line and measure, every note must
be analyzed for touch, tone, content and expression.

"You are always your first hearer; to be one's own critic is the most
difficult of all.

"When a new theme enters you must make it plain to the listener; all the
features of the new theme, the new figure, must be plastically brought

"Brilliancy does not depend on velocity but on clarity. What is not
clear cannot scintillate nor sparkle. Make use of your strongest fingers
in brilliant passages, leaving out the fourth when possible. A scale to
be brilliant and powerful must not be too rapid. Every note must be
round and full and not too legato--rather a mezzo legato--so that single
tones, played hands together, shall sound like octaves. One of the most
difficult things in rhythm, is to play passages where two notes
alternate with triplets. Scales may be practised in this way alternating
three notes with two.

"We must make things sound well--agreeably, in a way to be admired. A
seemingly discordant passage can be made to sound well by ingeniously
seeking out the best that is in it and holding that up in the most
favorable light. Practise dissonant chords until they please the ear in
spite of their sharpness. Think of the instruments of the orchestra and
their different qualities of tone, and try to imitate them on the piano.
Think of every octave on the piano as having a different color; then
shade and color your playing. (_Also bitte coloriren_)!"

If Bülow's musical trinity, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, had a fourth
divinity added, it would surely have been Liszt. The first day's program
contained chiefly works by the Hungarian master; among them _Au bord
d'une Source_, Scherzo and March, and the Ballades. The player who
rendered the Scherzo was advised to practise octaves with light,
flexible wrist; the Kullak Octave School was recommended, especially the
third book; the other books could be read through, practising whatever
seemed difficult and passing over what was easy. Of the Ballades the
first was termed more popular, the second finer and more earnest--though
neither makes very much noise.

The _Annees de Pelerinage_ received much attention. Among the pieces
played were, _Les Cloches_, _Chasse Neige_, _Eclogue_, _Cloches de
Geneva_, _Eroica_, _Feux Follets_ and _Ma__zeppa_. Also the big
Polonaise in E, the two Études, _Waldesrauschen_ and _Gnomenreigen_; the
Mazourka, Valse Impromptu, and the first Étude, of which last he
remarked: "You can all play this; thirty years have passed since it was
composed and people are only just finding out how fine it is. Such is
the case with many of Liszt's works. We wonder how they ever could have
been considered unmusical. Yet the way some people play Liszt the hearer
is forced to exclaim, 'What an unmusical fellow Liszt was, to be sure,
to write like that!'

"Exactness in everything is of the greatest importance," he was fond of
saying. "We must make the piano speak. As in speaking we use a separate
movement of the lips for each word, so in certain kinds of melody
playing, the hand is taken up after each note. Then, too, we cannot make
the piano speak without very careful use of the pedals."

The Mazourka of Liszt was recommended as one of the most delightful of
his lighter pieces. The _Waldesrauschen_ also, was termed charming, an
excellent concert number. "Begin the first figure somewhat louder and
slightly slower, then increase the movement and subdue the tone.
_Everything which_ _is to be played softly should be practised forte."_

Of Joachim Raff the Suite Op. 91 held the most important place. Each
number received minute attention, the Giga being played by Ethelbert
Nevin. The _Metamorphosen_ received a hearing, also the Valse Caprice,
Op. 116, of which the master was particular about the staccato left hand
against the legato right. Then came the Scherzo Op. 74, the Valse
Caprice and the Polka, from Suite Op. 71. Von Bülow described the little
group of notes in left hand of middle section as a place where the
dancers made an unexpected slip on the floor, and suggested it be
somewhat emphasized. "We must make this little witticism," he said, as
he illustrated the passage at the piano.

"Raff showed himself a pupil of Mendelssohn in his earlier compositions;
his symphonies will find more appreciation in the coming century--which
cannot be said of the Ocean Symphony, for instance."

Of Mendelssohn the Capriccios Op. 5 and 22 were played, also the Prelude
and Fugue in E. Von Bülow deplored the neglect which was overtaking the
works of Mendelssohn, and spoke of the many beauties of his piano
compositions. "There should be no sentimentality about the playing of
Mendelssohn's music," he said; "the notes speak for themselves.

"The return to a theme, in every song or instrumental work of his is
particularly to be noticed, for it is always interesting; this Fugue in
E should begin as though with the softest register of the organ."

The subject of Brahms has been deferred only that it may be spoken of as
a whole. His music was the theme of the second, and a number of the
following lessons. Bülow was a close friend of the Hamburg master, and
kept in touch with him while in Berlin. One morning he came in with a
beaming face, holding up a sheet of music paper in Beethoven's
handwriting, which Brahms had discovered and forwarded to him. It seemed
that nothing could have given Bülow greater pleasure than to receive
this relic.

[Illustration: DR. WILLIAM MASON]

The first work taken up in class was Brahms' Variations on a Handel
theme. Von Bülow was in perfect sympathy with this noble work of Brahms
and illumined many passages with clear explanations. He was very exact
about the phrasing, "What cannot be sung in one breath cannot be
played in one breath," he said; "many composers have their own terms for
expression and interpretation; Brahms is very exact in these
points--next to him comes Mendelssohn. Beethoven not at all careful
about markings and Schumann extremely careless. Brahms, Beethoven, and
Wagner have the right to use their own terms. Brahms frequently uses the
word _sostenuto_ where others would use _ritardando_."

Of the Clavier Stücke, Op. 76, Von Bülow said: "The Capriccio, No. 1
must not be taken too fast. First page is merely a prelude, the story
begins at the second page. How wonderfully is this melody formed, so
original yet so regular. Compare it with a Bach gigue. Remember, andante
does not mean dragging (_schleppando_), it means going (_gehend_)." To
the player who gave the Capriccio, No. 5 he said: "You play that as if
it were a Tarantelle of Stephan Heller's. Agitation in piano playing
must be carefully thought out; the natural sort will not do at all. We
do not want _blind_ agitation, but _seeing_ agitation (_aufregung_). A
diminuendo of several measures should be divided into stations, one each
for F, MF, M, P, and PP. Visit the Zoological Gardens, where you can
learn much about legato and staccato from the kangaroos."

The Ballades were taken up in these lessons, and the light thrown upon
their poetical content was often a revelation. The gloomy character of
the _Edward Ballade_, Op. 10, No. 1, the source of the Scottish poem,
the poetic story, were dwelt upon. The opening of this first Ballade is
sad, sinister and mysterious, like the old Scotch story. The master
insisted on great smoothness in playing it--the chords to sound like
muffled but throbbing heartbeats. A strong climax is worked up on the
second page, which dies away on the third to a _pianissimo_ of utter
despair. From the middle of this page on to the end, the descending
chords and octaves were likened to ghostly footsteps, while the broken
triplets in the left hand accompaniment seem to indicate drops of blood.

The third Ballade also received an illumination from Von Bülow. This is
a vivid tone picture, though without motto or verse. Starting with those
fateful fifths in the bass, it moves over two pages fitfully gloomy and
gay, till at the end of the second page a descending passage leads to
three chords so full of grim despair as to impart the atmosphere of a
dungeon. The player was hastily turning the leaf. "Stop!" cried the
excited voice of the master, who had been pacing restlessly up and down,
and now hurried from the end of the salon. "Wait! We have been in
prison--but now a ray of sunshine pierces the darkness. You must always
pause here to make the contrast more impressive. There is more music in
this little piece than in whole symphonies by some of the modern

Both Rhapsodies Op. 79 were played; the second, he said, has parts as
passionate as anything in the _Götterdammerung_. Both are fine and
interesting works.

Again and again the players were counseled to make everything sound
well. Some intervals, fourths for instance, are harsh; make them as mild
as possible. For one can play correctly, but horribly! Some staccatos
should be shaken out of the sleeve as it were.

The first time a great work is heard there is so much to occupy the
attention that only a small amount of pleasure can be derived from it.
At the second hearing things are easier and by the twelfth time one's
pleasure is complete. The pianist must consider the listener in a first
rendering, and endeavor to soften the sharp discords.

With a group of five notes, play two and then three--it sounds more
distinguished. Remember that unlearning gives much more trouble than

       *       *       *       *       *

In this brief résumé of the Von Bülow lessons, the desire has been to
convey some of the hints and remarks concerning the music and its
interpretation. The master's fleeting sentences were hurriedly jotted
down during the lessons, with no thought of their ever being seen except
by the owner. But as Bülow's fame as a teacher became so great, these
brief notes may now be of some value to both teacher and student.

If it were only possible to create a picture of that Berlin music-room,
with its long windows opening out to a green garden--the May sunshine
streaming in; the two grand pianos in the center, a row of anxious,
absorbed students about the edge of the room--and the short figure of
the little Doctor, pacing up and down the polished floor, or seating
himself at one piano now and then, to illustrate his instruction. This
mental picture is the lifelong possession of each of those players who
were so fortunate as to be present at the sessions. It can safely be
affirmed, I think, that the principles of artistic rectitude, of
exactness and thorough musicianship which were there inculcated, ever
remained with the members of that class, as a constant incentive and




While a young student the opportunity came to attend a Summer Music
School, founded by this eminent pianist and teacher. He had surrounded
himself with others well known for their specialties in voice, violin
and diction; but the director himself was the magnet who attracted
pianists and teachers from the four corners of the land.

Perhaps the most intimate way to come in touch with a famous teacher, is
to study with him during the summer months, in some quiet, retired spot.
Here the stress of the metropolis, with its rush and drive, its exacting
hours, its remorseless round of lesson giving, is exchanged for the
freedom of rural life. Hours may still be exact, but a part of each day,
or of each week, is given over to relaxation, to be spent in the open,
with friends and pupils.

It was under such conditions that I first met Mr. Sherwood. I had never
even heard him play, and was glad the session opened with a piano
recital. His playing delighted me; he had both power and delicacy, and
his tone impressed me as being especially mellow and fine. There was
deep feeling as well as poetry in his reading of both the Chromatic
Fantaisie of Bach, and the Chopin Fantaisie in F minor which were on the
program. This opinion was strengthened at each subsequent hearing, for
he gave frequent recitals and concerts during the season.

My summer study with Mr. Sherwood consisted mainly in gaining ideas on
the interpretation of various pieces. Many of these ideas seem to me
beautiful and inspiring, and I will set them down as fully as I can from
the brief notes jotted down at the time. I trust I may be pardoned a few
personal references, which are sometimes necessary to explain the

With advanced students Mr. Sherwood gave great attention to tone study
and interpretation, even from the first lesson. He laid much stress on
the use of slow, gentle motions in practise and in playing; on the
spiritualization of the tones, of getting behind the notes to find the
composer's meaning. He had, perhaps, a more poetic conception of piano
playing than any master I have known, and was able to impart these ideas
in clear and simple language.

The first composition considered was Schumann's Nachtstück, the fourth
of the set. He had a peculiar way of turning the hand on the middle
finger, as on a pivot, for the extended chords, at the same time raising
the whole outer side of the hand, so that the fifth finger should be
able to play the upper melody notes round and full. In the middle
section he desired great tenderness and sweetness of tone. "There are
several dissonances in this part," he said, "and they ought to be
somewhat accented--suspensions I might call them. In Bach and Handel's
time, the rules of composition were very strict--no suspensions were
allowed; so they were indicated where it was not permitted to write

Chopin's étude in sixths came up for analysis. "This study needs a very
easy, quiet, limpid touch--the motions all gliding and sliding rather
than pushing and forceful. I would advise playing it at first
_pianissimo_; the wrist held rather low, the knuckles somewhat high,
and the fingers straightened. In preparation for each pair of notes
raise the fingers and let them down--not with a hard brittle touch, if I
may use the word, but with a soft, velvety one. A composition like this
needs to be idealized, spiritualized, taken out of everyday life. Take,
for instance, the Impromptu Op. 36, Chopin; the first part of it is
something like this étude, soft, undulating--smooth as oil. There is
something very uncommon, spiritual, heavenly, about the first page of
that Impromptu--very little of the earth, earthy. The second page is in
sharp contrast to the first, it comes right down to the hard, everyday
business of life--it is full of harsh, sharp tones. Well, the idea of
that first page we get in this study in sixths. I don't want the bare
tones that stand there on the printed page; I want them
spiritualized--that is what reveals the artist. In the left hand the
first note should have a clear, brittle accent, with firm fifth finger,
and the double sixths played with the creeping, clinging movement I have
indicated. If I should practise this étude for half an hour, you might
be surprised at the effects I could produce. Perhaps it might take ten
hours, but in the end I am confident I could produce this floating,
undulating effect. I heard Liszt play nearly all these études at one
time; I stood by and turned the pages. In this étude he doubled the
number of sixths in each measure; the effect was wonderful and

"The Chopin Octave study, number 22, needs firm, quiet touch, elevating
the wrist for black keys (as Kullak explains) and depressing it for
white keys. The hand must be well arched, the end fingers firm and
strong, and the touch very pressing, clinging, and grasping. You always
want to cling whenever there is any chance for clinging in piano
playing. The second part of this étude should have a soft, flowing,
poetic touch in the right hand, while the left hand part is well brought
out. The thumb needs a special training to enable it to creep and slide
from one key to another with snake-like movements.

"Rubinstein's Barcarolle in G major. The thirds on the first page are
very soft and gentle. I make a good deal of extra motion with these
thirds, raising the fingers quite high and letting them fall gently on
the keys. The idea of the first page of this barcarolle is one of utter
quietness, colorlessness; one is alone on the water; the evening is
quiet and still; not a sound breaks the hushed silence. The delicate
tracery of thirds should be very soft, thin--like an airy cloud. The
left hand is soft too, but the first beat should be slightly accented,
the second not; the first is positive, the second negative. Herein lies
the idea of the barcarolle, the ebb and flow, the undulation of each

"Begin the first measure very softly, the second measure a trifle
louder, the third louder still, the fourth falling off again. As you
stand on the shore and watch the great waves coming in, you see some
that are higher and larger than others; so it is here. The concluding
passage in sixths should diminish--like a little puff of vapor that ends
in--nothing. On the second page we come upon something more positive;
here is a tangible voice speaking to us. The melody should stand out
clear, broad, beautiful; the accompanying chords should preserve the
same ebb and flow, the advancing and receding wave-like movement. The
exaggerated movement I spoke of a moment ago, I use in many ways. Any
one can hit the piano, with a sharp, incisive touch; but what I refer to
is the reaching out of the fingers for the notes, the passing of the
hand in the air and the final gentle fall on the key, not in haste to
get there, but with confidence of reaching the key in time. If you throw
a stone up in the air it will presently fall back again with a sharp
thud; a bird rising, hovers a moment and descends gently. This
barcarolle is not at all easy; there is plenty of work in it for
flexible hands; it is a study in _pianissimo_--in power controlled, held
back, restrained."

Taking up the Toccatina of Rheinberger, Mr. Sherwood said: "I like this
piece, there is good honest work in it; it is very effective, and most
excellent practise. You ought to play this every day of the year. It is
written in twelve-eighths, which give four beats to the measure, but I
think that gives it too hard and square a character. I would divide each
measure into two parts and slightly accent each. Though your temperament
is more at home in the music of Chopin and Schumann, I recommend
especially music of this sort, and also the music of Bach; these give
solidity and strength to your conception of musical ideas."

We went through the Raff Suite, Op. 94. "The Preludio is very good," he
said; "I like it. The Menuetto is, musically, the least strong of any of
the numbers, but it has a certain elegance, and is the most popular of
them all. The Romanza is a great favorite of mine, it is very graceful,
flowing and melodious. The concluding Fugue is a fine number; you see
how the theme is carried from one hand to the other, all twisted about,
in a way old Bach and Handel never thought of doing. I consider this
Raff fugue one of the best examples of modern fugue writing."

Mr. Sherwood was fond of giving students the Josef Wieniawski Valse, for
brilliancy. "There are many fine effects which can be made in this
piece; one can take liberties with it--the more imagination you have the
better it will go. I might call it a _stylish_ piece; take the Prelude
as capriciously as you like; put all the effect you can into it. The
Valse proper begins in a very pompous style, with right hand very
staccato; all is exceedingly coquettish. On the fifth page you see it is
marked _amoroso_, but after eight measures the young man gives the whole
thing away to his father! The beginning of the sixth page is very
_piano_ and light--it is nothing more than a breath of smoke, an airy
nothing. But at the _poco piu lento_, there is an undercurrent of
reality; the two parts are going at the same time--the hard, earthly
part, with accents, and the spiritual, thin as air. To realize these
qualities in playing is the very idealization of technic."

The Chopin-Liszt _Maiden's Wish_, was next considered. "The theme here
is often overlaid and encrusted with the delicate lace-like arabesques
that seek to hide it; but it must be found and brought out. There is so
much in being able to find what is hidden behind the notes. You must get
an insight into the inner idea; must feel it. This is not technic, not
method even; it is the spiritualization of playing. There are pieces
that will sound well if the notes only are played, like the little F
minor Moment Musicale of Schubert; yet even in this there is much behind
the notes, which, if brought out, will make quite another thing of the

"Schumann's Andante, for two pianos, should have a very tender,
caressing touch for the theme. The place where the four-sixteenths
occur, which make rather a square effect, can be softened down. On the
second page, be sure and do not accent the grace notes; let the accent
come on the fifth finger every time. For the variation containing
chords, use the grasping touch, which might be described as a certain
indrawing of force in the end of the finger, as though taking a long
breath. The variation in triplets seems at first sight almost a
caricature, a burlesque on the theme, but I don't think that Schumann
had any such idea. On the contrary he meant it as a very sweet, gentle,
loving thought. The last page has something ethereal, ideal about it; it
should be breathed out, growing fainter and fainter to the end.

"The G minor Ballade, of Chopin, begins slowly, with much dignity. The
opening melody is one of sadness, almost gloom. The _a tempo_ on second
page contains four parts going on at the same time. At the _piu forte,_
care must be taken to have the outer side of the hand well raised, and
moved from the wrist. The idea here is one of great agitation and
unrest. The fifth page needs great power and the legato octaves well
connected and sustained. The feeling of unrest is here augmented until
it becomes almost painful, and not until the _animato_ does a restful
feeling come. This should be played lightly and delicately, the left
hand giving the rhythm. The _presto_ demands great power and dash. Let
the wrist be low when beginning the chords, raise it after the first and
let it fall after the second. Always accent the second chord. Begin the
final double runs slowly and increase in speed and tone. So, too, with
the octaves, begin slowly and increase in power and fire."

Numerous other compositions were analyzed, but the ones already quoted
stand out in memory, and give some idea of Mr. Sherwood's manner of


Years after the foregoing experiences I had the privilege of doing some
work with the dean of all American piano masters, Dr. William Mason. I
had spent several years in European study, with Scharwenka, Klindworth
and von Bülow, and had returned to my own land to join its teaching and
playing force. My time soon became so largely occupied with teaching
that I feared my playing would be entirely pushed to the wall unless I
were under the guidance of some master. With this thought in mind, I
presented myself to Dr. Mason.

"You have studied with Sherwood," he began. "He has excellent ideas of
touch and technic. Some of these ideas came from me, though I don't wish
to claim too much in the matter. Sherwood has the true piano touch. Very
few pianists have it; Klindworth did not have it, nor von Bülow, nor
even Liszt, entirely, for he as well as the others, sought for a more
orchestral manner of playing. Sherwood has this touch; Tausig had it,
and de Pachmann and Rubinstein most of all. It is not taught in Germany
as it should be. The best American teachers are far ahead in this
respect; in a few years the Europeans will come to us to learn these
things." (This was Sherwood's idea also.)

The first composition played to Dr. Mason was the G minor Rhapsodie of
Brahms, with which, as it happened, he was unfamiliar. I played the
entire piece through without interruption, and he seemed pleased.

"You have a beautiful tone--a really beautiful tone, and you play very
artistically; much of this must be natural to you, you could not have
acquired it. You also have an excellently trained hand. I may say that
in my forty years of teaching I have never had any one come to me with a
better position, or more natural and normal condition. Now, what do you
think I can do for you?"

I explained that I needed some new ideas in my teaching, and wished to
keep up my own practise.

"I will explain my theories to you, and we will then study some
compositions together.

"There is everything in knowing how to practise, but it is something
that cannot be taught. I played in public ten years before I found out
the secret.

"Practise slowly and in sections. Not only must all the notes be there,
they must be dwelt on. There must be a firm and rock-like basis for
piano playing; such a foundation can only be laid by patient and
persevering slow practise. If the player has not the control over his
fingers to play a piece slowly, he certainly cannot play it fast. Slow
practise--one difficulty at a time--one hand at a time; Napoleon's
tactics, 'one division at a time,' applies to music study. Above all do
not hurry in fugue playing, a universal fault. Bach needs a slower trill
than modern music. Chords are not to be played with percussion but with
pressure. The main things in piano playing are tone and sentiment. When
you take up a new piece, practise a few measures slowly, till you know
them, then play faster; take the next few measures in the same way; but
at first do not practise the whole piece through at once.

"Just as in life every experience of great joy or great grief leaves one
better or more callous, so every time you practise you have either
advanced or gone back. Right playing, like good manners in a
well-trained child, becomes habitual from always doing right. As we are
influenced for good or evil by those we associate with, so are we
influenced by the character and quality of the tones we make and hear.
Be in earnest; put your heart, your whole soul, your whole self into
your playing."

Among other pieces we studied together was the Schumann sonata in F
minor, the _Eusebius Sonata_--a glorious work! In the opening movement
the left hand should be very serious and ponderous, with the hand and
fingers held close to the keys; using arm weight. The melody in octaves
in right hand is beseeching, pleading, imploring. In many places the
touch is very elastic. The second movement begins very softly, as though
one heard something faintly in the distance, and did not quite know what
it was, but thought it might be music. The accents in this movement are
to be understood in a comparative degree, and are not as strong as the
marks seem to indicate. The Scherzo is extremely pompous and is to be
played with heavy accents and a great deal of vim and go; the chords
with the utmost freedom and dash. One must use the "letting-go"
principle, which Paderewski has to perfection.

We next took up the Grieg Concerto; the Peter's edition of this work has
been corrected by the composer. At the first lesson, Dr. Mason
accompanied on a second piano, and seemed pleased with the work I had
done, making no corrections, except to suggest a somewhat quicker tempo.
"Not that I would do anything to impair your carefulness and accuracy,
but you must take a risk, and from the beginning, too. I am reminded of
the young man who has been very carefully brought up. When the time
comes for him to strike out and take his chance in life, he holds back
and is afraid, while another with more courage, steps in and takes away
his opportunity."

We discussed the slow movement at great length. "Note in this movement
the slow, dreamy effect that can be made at the ending of the second
solo, and the artistic use of the pedal in the following chords. The
third movement must have great swing and 'go'; the octave passage
cadenza should be practised in rhythmical groups, and the final Andante
must be fast."

The third time we played the concerto I had it well in hand. Dr. Mason
accompanied as only he could do, and at the close praised me on the way
I had worked it up, and the poetry and fire I was able to put into it.
Who could help playing with fire and enthusiasm when led by such a

Dr. Mason was a most inspiring teacher, quick to note and praise what
was good, and equally vigilant in correcting what was blameworthy. His
criticisms were of the utmost value, for he had such wide experience,
and such a large acquaintance with music and musicians. Best of all he
was a true artist, always ready to demonstrate his art for the benefit
of the pupil, always encouraging, always inspiring.




How things are done, how others do them, and the reasons for the doing
of them in one way and not in another, used to occupy my thoughts back
as far as I can remember. As a child I was fond of watching any one
doing fine needlework or beautiful embroidery, and tried to imitate what
I saw, going into minutest details. This fondness for exactness and
detail, when, applied to piano study, led me to question many things; to
wonder why I was told to do thus and so, when other people seemed to do
other ways; in fact I began to discover that every one who played the
piano played it in a different fashion. Why was there not one way?

One memorable night I was taken to hear Anton Rubinstein. What a
marvelous instrument the piano was, to be sure, when its keys were
moved by a touch that was at one moment all fire and flame, and the next
smooth as velvet or soft and light as thistle-down. What had my home
piano in common with this wonder? Why did all the efforts at piano
playing I had hitherto listened to sink into oblivion when I heard this
master? What was the reason of it all?

More artists of the piano came within my vision, Mehlig, Joseffy, Mason,
and others. As I listened to their performances it was brought to me
more clearly than ever that each master played the piano in the manner
which best suited himself; at the same time each and every player made
the instrument utter tones and effects little dreamed of by the ordinary
learner. What was the secret? Was it the manner of moving the keys, the
size of hand, the length of finger, or the great strength possessed by
the player? I had always been taught to play slowly and carefully, so
that I should make no mistakes; these great pianists had wonderful
fearlessness; Rubinstein at least did not seem to care whether or not he
hit a few wrong notes here and there, if he could only secure the speed
and effect desired. Whence came his fearless velocity, his tremendous


Little by little I began to realize the essentials of effective piano
playing were these: clear touch, intelligent phrasing, all varieties of
tone, all the force the piano would stand, together with the greatest
delicacy and the utmost speed. These things the artists possessed as a
matter of course, but the ordinary student or teacher failed utterly to
make like effects, or to play with sufficient clearness and force. What
was the reason?

In due course I came under the supervision of various piano pedagogues.
To the first I gave implicit obedience, endeavoring to do exactly as I
was told. The next teacher said I must begin all over again, as I had
been taught "all wrong." I had never learned hand position nor
independence of fingers--these must now be established. The following
master told me finger independence must be secured in quite a different
fashion from the manner in which I had been taught, which was "all
wrong." The next professor said I must bend the finger squarely from the
second joint, and not round all three joints, as I had been doing. This
so-called fault took several months to correct.

To the next I am indebted for good orthodox (if somewhat pedantic) ideas
of fingering and phrasing, for which he was noted. The hobby of the next
master was slow motions with soft touch. This course was calculated to
take all the vim out of one's fingers and all the brilliancy out of
one's playing in less than six months. To the next I owe a comprehension
of the elastic touch, with devitalized muscles. This touch I practised
so assiduously that my poor piano was ruined inside of a year, and had
to be sent to the factory for a new keyboard. The next master insisted
on great exactness of finger movements, on working up velocity with
metronome, on fine tone shading and memorizing.


Such, in brief, has been my experience with pedagogues and teachers of
the piano. Having passed through it (and in passing having tried various
so-called and unnamed methods) I feel I have reached a vantage ground
upon which I can stand and look back over the course. The desire to know
the experience of the great artists of the keyboard is as strong within
me as ever. What did they not have to go through to master their
instrument? And having mastered it, what do they consider the vital
essentials of piano technic and piano playing? Surely they must know
these things if any one can know them. They can tell, if they will, what
to do and what to avoid, what to exclude as unnecessary or unessential
and what to concentrate upon.

The night Rubinstein's marvelous tones fell upon my childish ears I
longed to go to him, clasp his wonderful hands in my small ones and beg
him to tell me how he did it all. I now know he could not have explained
how, for the greater the genius--the more spontaneous its
expression--the less able is such an one to put into words the manner of
its manifestation. In later years the same impulse has come when
listening to Paderewski, Hofmann and others. If they could only tell us
exactly what is to be done to master the piano, what a boon it would be
to those who are awake enough to profit by and follow the directions and
experiences of such masters.

In recognition of the strength of this desire, months after a
half-forgotten wish had been expressed by me, came a request by _Musical
America_ to prepare a series of interviews with the world famed pianists
who were visiting our shores, and also with prominent teachers who were
making good among us, and who were proving by results attained that they
were safe and efficient guides.


Never was an interesting and congenial labor undertaken with more zest.
The artists were plied with questions which to them may have seemed
prosaic, but which to the interrogator were the very essence of the
principles of piano technic and piano mastery. It is not a light task
for an artist to sit down and analyze his own methods. Some found it
almost impossible to put into language their ideas on these subjects.
They had so long been concerned with the highest themes of
interpretation that they hardly knew how the technical effects were
produced, nor could they put the manner of making them into words. They
could only say, with Rubinstein, "I do it this way," leaving the
questioner to divine how and then to give an account of it. However,
with questions leading up to the points I was anxious to secure light
upon, much information was elicited.

One principle was ever before me, namely the Truth. I desired to find
out the truth about each subject and then endeavored to set down what
was said, expressed in the way I felt would convey the most exact
meaning. In considering the vital points or heads under which to group
the subjects to be considered, the following seem to cover the ground
pretty thoroughly:

1. Artistic piano technic; how acquired and retained.

2. How to practise.

3. How to memorize.

4. Rhythm and tone color in piano playing.


_Hand Position, Finger Action, and Artistic Touch_


When we listen to a piano recital by a world-famous artist, we think--if
we are musicians--primarily of the interpretation of the compositions
under consideration. That the pianist has a perfect technic almost goes
without saying. He must have such a technic to win recognition as an
artist. He would not be an artist without a great technic, without a
complete command over the resources of the instrument and over himself.

Let us use the word technic in its large sense, the sense which includes
all that pertains to the executive side of piano playing. It is in this
significance that Harold Bauer calls technic "an art in itself." Mme.
Bloomfield Zeisler says: "Piano technic includes so much! Everything
goes into it: arithmetic, grammar, diction, language study, poetry,
history and painting. In the first stages there are rules to be learned,
just as in any other study. I must know the laws of rhythm and meter to
be able to punctuate musical phrases and periods. Pupils who have long
since passed the arithmetic stage have evidently forgotten all about
fractions and division, for they do not seem to grasp the time values of
notes and groups of notes used in music; they do not know what must be
done with triplets, dotted notes and so on. Thus you see technic
includes a multitude of things; it is a very wide subject."


The first principle a piano teacher shows his pupil is that of hand
position. It has been my effort to secure a definite expression on this
point from various artists. Most of them agree that an arched position
with rounded finger joints is the correct one. It was Paderewski who
said, "Show me how the player holds his hands at the piano, and I will
tell you what kind of player he is"--showing the Polish pianist
considers hand position of prime importance.

"I hold the hand arched and very firm,"--Ernest Schelling.

"The hand takes an arched position, the finger-tips forming a curve on
the keys, the middle finger being placed a little farther in on the key
than is natural for the first and fifth."--Katharine Goodson.

"The hand is formed on the keys in its five-finger position, with arched
knuckles."--Ethel Leginska.

"The hand is formed in an arched position, with curved fingers, and
solidified."--Carl Roeder.

"The hand, in normal playing position, must stand up in well arched
form, with fingers well rounded."--Thuel Burnham.

"I first establish an arched hand position, with firm fingers."--Edwin

"I teach arched hand position."--Alexander Lambert.

"One must first secure an arched hand, with steady first joints of the
fingers."--Eleanor Spencer.

"The first thing to do for a pupil is to see that the hand is in correct
position; the knuckles will be somewhat elevated and the fingers
properly rounded."--Bloomfield Zeisler.

"A pupil must first form the arch of the hand and secure firm finger
joints. I form the hand away from the piano, at a table."--Agnes Morgan.

Leschetizky teaches arched hand position, with rounded fingers, and all
who have come under his instruction advocate this form. It is the
accepted position for passage playing. A few pianists, notably Alfred
Cortôt and Tina Lerner, play their passage work with flat fingers, but
this, in Miss Lerner's case, is doubtless caused by the small size of
the hand.

It is clear from the above quotations, and from many other opinions
which could be cited, that the authorities agree the hand should be well
arched, the end of the finger coming in contact with the key;
furthermore there should be no weakness nor giving in at the nail


The question of lifting the fingers seems to be one on which various
opinions are held. Some pianists, like Godowsky for instance, will tell
you they do not approve of raising the fingers--that the fingers must be
kept close to the keys. It is noticeable, however, that even those who
do not speak favorably of finger action, use it themselves when playing
passages requiring distinctness and clearness. Other players are rather
hazy on the subject, but these are generally persons who have not gone
through the routine of teaching.

The accepted idea of the best teachers is that at the beginning of piano
study positive finger movements must be acquired; finger action must be
so thoroughly grounded that it becomes second nature, a very part of the
player, something he can never forget nor get away from. So fixed should
it become that no subsequent laxity, caused by the attention being
wholly centered on interpretation can disturb correct position,
condition, or graceful, plastic movement.

"For passage work I insist on finger action; the fingers must be raised
and active to insure proper development. I think one certainly needs
higher action when practising technic and technical pieces than one
would use when playing the same pieces before an audience."--Clarence

Alexander Lambert speaks to the point when he says: "I teach decided
finger action in the beginning. Some teachers may not teach finger
action because they say artists do not use it. But the artist, if
questioned, would tell you he had to acquire finger action in the
beginning. There are so many stages in piano playing. The beginner must
raise his fingers in order to acquire finger development and a clear
touch. In the middle stage he has secured enough finger control to play
the same passages with less action, yet still with sufficient clearness,
while in the more or less finished stages the passage may be played with
scarcely any perceptible motion, so thoroughly do the fingers respond to
every mental requirement."

It is this consummate mastery and control of condition and movement that
lead the superficial observer to imagine that the great artist gives no
thought to such things as position, condition and movements. Never was
there a greater mistake. The finest perfection of technic has been
acquired with painstaking care, with minute attention to exacting
detail. At some period of his career, the artist has had to come down to
foundation principles and work up. Opinions may differ as to the
eminence of Leschetizky as a teacher, but the fact remains that many of
the pianists now before the public have been with him at one time or
another. They all testify that the Viennese master will have nothing to
do with a player until he has gone through a course of rigorous
preparation spent solely in finger training, and can play a pair of
Czerny études with perfect control and effect.


One of the greatest American teachers of touch was Dr. William Mason,
who made an exhaustive study of this subject. His own touch was noted
for its clear, bell-like, elastic quality. He remarked on one occasion,
in regard to playing in public: "It is possible I may be so nervous that
I can hardly walk to the piano; but once I have begun to play I shall
hold the audience still enough to hear a pin drop, simply by the beauty
of my touch and tone." Dr. Mason's touch specialties were "pressure" and
"elastic" or "drawing-off" touches. He found these gave both weight and
crisp lightness to the tones.

Mr. Tobias Matthay, of London, has given much time and thought to the
study of touch and key mechanism. He says: "The two chief rules of
technic, as regards the key are: Always feel how much the key resists
you, feel how much the key _wants_ for every note. Second, always listen
for the moment each sound begins, so that you may learn to direct your
effort to the sound only and not to the key bed. It is only by making
the hammer end of the key move that you can make a sound. The swifter
the movement, the louder the sound. The more gradual the movement the
more beautiful the quality of sound. For brilliant tone, you may hit the
string by means of the key, but do not, by mistake, hit the key

Thuel Burnham, a pupil of Mason and Leschetizky, has welded the ideas of
these two masters into his own experience, and simplifies the matter of
piano touch as follows:


"The position and condition of the hand varies according to the
character of the music and the quality of tone you wish to produce. If
you give out a melody, you want a full, luscious tone, the weight of
arm on the key, everything relaxed and a clinging, caressing pressure of
finger. Here you have the 'Melody Hand,' with outstretched, flat
fingers. On the contrary, if you wish rapid passage work, with clear,
bright, articulate touch, the hand must stand up in well-arched, normal
playing position, with fingers well rounded and good finger action. Here
you have the 'Technical' or 'Coloratura Hand.'"

The distinction made by Mr. Burnham clears up the uncertainty about
arched hand and articulate touch, or low hand and flat fingers. Both are
used in their proper place, according to the demands of the music. The
player, however, who desires a clean, reliable technic, should first
acquire a coloratura hand before attempting a melody hand.


_The Art of Practise_

We have seen that if the pianist hopes to perfect himself in his art he
must lay the foundation deep down in the fundamentals of hand position,
body condition, correct finger movements and in careful attention to
the minutest details of touch and tone production.

The remark is often heard, from persons who have just listened to a
piano recital: "I would give anything in the world to play like that!"
But would they even give the necessary time, to say nothing of the
endless patience, tireless energy and indomitable perseverance which go
to the making of a virtuoso.

How much time does the artist really require for study? Paderewski owns
to devoting _all_ his time to it during the periods of preparation for
his recital tours. At certain seasons of the year most of the artists
give a large portion of each day to the work. Godowsky is an incessant
worker; Burnham devotes his entire mornings to piano study; Germaine
Schnitzer gives six hours daily to her work, and if interrupted one day
the lost time is soon made up. Eleanor Spencer "practises all her spare
time," as she quaintly puts it. A professional pianist must give a
number of hours each day to actual practise at the keyboard, besides
what is done away from it. The work is mentally going on continually,
whether one really sits at the instrument or not.

The point which most concerns us is: How shall one practise so as to
make the most of the time and accomplish the best results? What études,
if any, shall we use, and what technical material is the most useful and

Wilhelm Bachaus, whose consummate technic we have so often admired,
says: "I am old-fashioned enough to still believe in scales and
arpeggios. Some of the players of the present day seem to have no use
for such things, but I find them of great importance. This does not
necessarily mean that I go through the whole set of keys when I practise
the scales. I select a few at a time and work at those. I start with
ridiculously simple forms--just the thumb under the hand and the hand
over the thumb--a few movements each way, but these put the hand in trim
for scales and arpeggios. I practise the latter about half an hour a
day. I have to overhaul my technic once or twice a week to see that
everything is in order. Scales and arpeggios come in for their share of
criticism. I practise them in various touches, but oftener in _legato_,
as that is more difficult and also more beautiful than the others. I
practise technic, when possible, an hour a day, including Bach."

Sigismond Stojowski considers that scales and arpeggios must form a
part of the daily routine.

Thuel Burnham says: "Of my practise hours at least one is given to
technic, scales, arpeggios, octaves, chords, and Bach! I believe in
taking one selection of Bach and perfecting it--transposing it in all
keys and polishing it to the highest point possible. So with études, it
is better to perfect a few than to play _at_ so many."


Edwin Hughes, the American pianist and teacher in Munich, remarks:
"Technic is the mechanical part of music making; to keep it in running
order one must be constantly tinkering with it, just as the engine
driver with his locomotive or the chauffeur with his automobile. Every
intelligent player recognizes certain exercises as especially beneficial
to the mechanical well-being of his playing; from these he will plan his
daily schedule of technical practise."

Teresa Carreño asserts she had in the beginning many technical exercises
which her teacher wrote out for her, from difficult passages taken from
the great composers. There were hundreds of them, so many that it took
just three days to go the rounds. She considers them invaluable, and
constantly uses them in her own practise and in her teaching. Each
exercise must be played in all keys and with every possible variety of
touch and tone.

Paderewski gives much time daily to pure technic practise. He has been
known to play scales and arpeggios in a single key for three quarters of
an hour at a stretch. These were played with every variety of touch,
velocity, dynamic shading and so on.

It is seen from the instances quoted that many great pianists believe in
daily technic practise, or the study of pure technic apart from pieces.
Many more testify that scales, chords, arpeggios and octaves constitute
their daily bread. Some have spoken to me especially of octave practise
as being eminently beneficial. They feel these things are essential to
the acquiring of a fine technic, and keeping it up to concert pitch.

Some artists are partial to certain technical studies. Bachaus highly
recommends those of Brahms, for instance. All artists use Bach in
connection with their technic practise; in fact the works of Bach may be
considered to embody pure technic principles, and pianists and teachers
consider them a daily necessity.


Together with their studies in pure technic alone, the artists invent
exercises out of the pieces they study, either by playing passages
written for both hands with one hand, by turning single notes into
octaves, by using more difficult fingering than necessary, thus bringing
into use the weaker fingers, changing the rhythm, and in numerous other
ways increasing the effort of performance, so that when the passage is
played as originally written, it shall indeed seem like child's play.

Another means to acquire technical mastery is through transposition. One
would think Bach's music difficult enough when performed as written, but
the artists think nothing of putting it through the different keys.
Burnham relates that during early lessons with Dr. Mason, that master
gave him a Bach Invention to prepare, casually remarking it might be
well to memorize it. The simple suggestion was more than sufficient, for
the ambitious pupil presented himself at the next lesson with not only
that particular Invention learned by heart, but likewise the whole set!
De Pachmann, in his eagerness to master the technic and literature of
the piano, says that when a Bach Prelude and Fugue was on one occasion
assigned him by his teacher, he went home and learned the whole
twenty-four, which he was able to play in every key for the next lesson!


The question is often put to artists: "Do you deem it necessary to work
for velocity, or do you practise the composition much at the required
speed?" Many pianists practise very slowly. This was William H.
Sherwood's custom. Harold Bauer believes velocity to be inherent in the
individual, so that when the passage is thoroughly comprehended it can
be played at the necessary rate of speed. Bachaus testifies he seldom
works for velocity, saying that if he masters the passage he can play it
at any required tempo. "I never work for velocity as some do," he
remarks. "I seldom practise fast, for it interferes with clearness. I
prefer to play more slowly, giving the greatest attention to clearness
and good tone. By pursuing this course I find that when I need velocity
I have it."

Clarence Adler counsels pupils always to begin by practising
slowly--faster tempo will develop later, subconsciously. Velocity is
only to be employed after the piece has been thoroughly learned, every
mark of expression observed, all fingering, accents and dynamic marks
mastered. "You would scarcely believe," he adds, "how slowly I practise


There are very few exceptions to the general verdict in favor of technic
practise apart from pieces. Godowsky asserts he never practises scales.
Bauer cares little for pure technic practise, believing the composition
itself contains sufficient material of a technical nature.

Whether or not these brilliant exceptions merely prove the rule, the
thoughtful student of the piano must decide for himself. He has already
discovered that modern piano playing requires a perfect technic,
together with the personal equation of vigorous health, serious purpose
and many-sided mentality. Mme. Rider-Possart says: "Technic is something
an artist has to put in the background as something of secondary
importance, yet if he does not possess it he is nowhere." The student
will not overlook the fact that to acquire the necessary technical
control he must devote time and thought to it outside of piece playing.
He must understand the principles and follow out a certain routine in
order to secure the best results in the quickest and surest way. While
each one must work out his own salvation, it is an encouragement to know
that even the greatest artists must toil over their technic, must keep
eternally at it, must play slowly, must memorize bit by bit. The
difference between the artist and the talented amateur often lies in the
former's absolute concentration, perseverance and devotion to the
highest ideals.


_How to Memorize_

At the present stage of pianistic development, an artist does not
venture to come before the public and "use his notes." No artist who
values his reputation would attempt it. Everything must be performed
from memory--solos, concertos, even accompaniments. The pianist must
know every note of the music he performs. The star accompanist aspires
to the same mastery when he plays for a famous singer or
instrumentalist. We also have the artist conductor, with opera, symphony
or concerto at his finger-tips. Hans von Bülow, who claimed that a
pianist should have more than two hundred compositions in his
repertoire, was himself equally at home in orchestral music. He always
conducted his Meiningen Orchestra without notes.

Let us say, then, that the present-day pianist ought to have about two
hundred compositions in his repertoire, all of which must be played
without notes. The mere fact of committing to memory such a quantity of
pages is no small item in the pianist's equipment. The problem is to
discover the best means of memorizing music quickly and surely. Here
again we are privileged to inquire of the artist and of the artist
teacher. His knowledge and experience will be practical, for he has
evolved it and proved it over and over again.

It is a well-known fact that Leschetizky advises memorizing away from
the instrument. This method at once shuts the door on all useless and
thoughtless repetition employed by so many piano students, who repeat a
passage endlessly, to avoid thinking it out. Then they wonder why they
cannot commit to memory! The Viennese master suggests that a short
passage of two or four measures be learned with each hand alone, then
tried on the piano. If not yet quite fixed in consciousness the effort
should be repeated, after which it may be possible to go through the
passage without an error. The work then proceeds in the same manner
throughout the composition.


A player who gives five or six hours daily to study, and who has learned
how to memorize, should be able to commit one page of music each day.
This course, systematically pursued, would result in the thorough
assimilation of at least fifty compositions in one year. This is really
a conservative estimate, though at first glance it may seem rather
large. If we cut the figure in half, out of consideration for the
accumulative difficulties of the music, there will still remain
twenty-five pieces, enough for two programs and a very respectable
showing for a year's study.

It may be that Leschetizky's principle of memorizing will not appeal to
every one. The player may find another path to the goal, one more
suited to his peculiar temperament. Or, if he has not yet discovered the
right path, let him try different ways till he hits upon one which will
do the work in the shortest and most thorough manner. All masters agree
that analysis and concentration are the prime factors in the process of
committing music to memory.

Michael von Zadora, pianist and teacher, said to me recently: "Suppose
you have a difficult passage to learn by heart. The ordinary method of
committing to memory is to play the passage over and over, till the
fingers grow accustomed to its intervals. That is not my manner of
teaching. The only way to master that passage is to analyze it
thoroughly, know just what the notes are, the sequences of notes, if you
will, their position on the keyboard, the fingering, the positions the
hands must take to play these notes, so that you know just where the
fingers have to go before you put them on the keys. When you thus
thoroughly understand the passage or piece, have thought about it, lived
with it, so that it is in the blood, we might say, the fingers can play
it. There will be no difficulty about it and no need for senseless


Most of the artists agree that memorizing must be done phrase by phrase,
after the composition has been thoroughly analyzed as to keys, chords,
and construction. This is Katharine Goodson's way, and also Eleanor
Spencer's and Ethel Leginska's, three of Leschetizky's pupils now before
the public. "I really know the composition so thoroughly that I can play
it in another key just as well as the one in which it is written, though
I do not always memorize it each hand alone," says Miss Goodson. "I
first play the composition over a few times to become somewhat familiar
with its form and shape," says Eleanor Spencer, "then I begin to analyze
and study it, committing it by phrases, or ideas, one or two measures at
a time. I do not always take the hands alone, unless the passage is very
intricate, for sometimes it is easier to learn both hands together."
Germaine Schnitzer avers that she keeps at a difficult passage until she
really knows it perfectly, no matter how long it takes. "What is the use
of going on," she says, "until you are absolutely sure of the work in

It is plain from the opinions already cited and from many I have heard
expressed that the artists waste no time over useless repetitions. They
fully realize that a piece is not assimilated nor learned until it is
memorized. When they have selected the composition they wish to learn,
they begin at once to memorize from the start. The student does not
always bring to his work this definiteness of aim; if he did, much
precious time would be saved. The ability to memorize ideas expressed in
notes grows with use, just as any other aptitude grows with continued

Instead, then, of playing _with_ a piece, why do you not at once begin
to make it your own? Look at the phrases so intently that they become as
it were, photographed on your mind. Ruskin said: "Get the habit of
looking intently at words." We might say the same of notes. Look at the
phrase with the conviction that it can be remembered after a glance or
two. It is only an indication of indolence and mental inertness to look
continually at the printed page or passage and keep on playing it over
and over, without trying to fix it indelibly in the mind.

In my work as teacher I constantly meet students, and teachers too, who
do little or no memorizing. Some do not even approve of it, though it
is difficult to conceive how any one in his right mind can disapprove
knowing a thing thoroughly. The only way to know it thoroughly is to
know it by heart.


A repertoire once committed must be constantly kept in repair. The
public player, in his seasons of study, generally has a regular system
of repetition, so that all compositions can be gone over at least once a
week. One artist suggests that the week be started with the classics and
concluded with modern compositions and concerted numbers. Thus each day
will have its allotted task. The pieces are not merely to be played
over, but really overhauled, and all weak places treated to a dose of
slow, careful practise, using the printed pages. Artists on tour, where
consecutive practise is difficult or unattainable, always carry the
printed notes of their repertoire with them, and are ceaselessly
studying, repairing, polishing their phrases, thinking out their

To those who wish to become pianists, I would say: "Keep your memory
active through constant use. Be always learning by heart; do it
systematically, a little at a time. So it will be daily progress. So
your repertoire is built!"


_Rhythm and Tone Color in Piano Playing_

How shall two such opposites as rhythm and tone color be connected, even
in name, some will ask. One belongs to the mechanical side of piano
playing, while the other appertains to the ideal, the poetic, the
soulful. The two subjects, however, are not so wide apart as might at
first appear; for the beauty and variety of the second depends largely
upon the mastery of the first. You must play rhythmically before you can
play soulfully; you must first be able to keep time before you can
attempt to express color and emotion through any fluctuation of rhythm.
One depends on the other, therefore time and rhythm come first; when
these are well under control, not before, we can go further and enter
the wider field of tonal variety.

Rhythm is one of the pianist's most important assets, something he
cannot do without. It might be said that the possession of a
well-developed rhythmic sense is one point in which the artist differs
greatly from the amateur. The latter thinks nothing of breaking the
rhythm at any time and place that suits his fancy; while the artist is
usually conscientious about such matters, because his time sense is more
highly developed. A perfect time sense is often inherent in the artist,
a part of the natural gift which he has cultivated to such a high state
of achievement. It may be he has never had any difficulty with this
particular point in piano playing, while the amateur has constantly to
struggle with problems of time and rhythm.


When the subject of using such a mechanical aid as the metronome to
cultivate rhythmic sense, is broached to the executive artist, it does
not always meet with an assenting response. With such bred-in-the-bone
sense of time as the artist commands, it is little wonder he takes no
great interest in mechanical time-beating. Josef Hofmann's censure of
the metronome was probably due to his inborn rhythmic and artistic
sense; yet his words have doubtless had their effect on many students,
who, lacking his sense of rhythm, would have been greatly benefited by
its use.

Godowsky, when asked his opinion of the metronome, replied: "I
assuredly approve of its use; I have even devoted a chapter to the
metronome in the _Progressive Series_, my great work on piano playing."
Edwin Hughes remarks: "If pupils have naturally a poor sense of rhythm,
there is no remedy equal to practising with the metronome, using it
daily until results are evident, when there can be a judicious letting
up of the discipline. The mechanical sense of rhythm, the ability to
count and to group the notes of a piece correctly, can be taught to any
person, if one has the patience; but for the delicate rhythmic _nuances_
required by a Chopin Mazourka or a Viennese Valse, a special rhythmic
gift is necessary."

Artists and teachers who have come under Leschetizky's influence and use
his principles, are generally in favor of the metronome, according to
their own testimony. The fact is, they as teachers often find such
deficiency in their pupils on the subject of time sense and accuracy in
counting, that they are forced to institute strict measures to
counteract this lack of rhythmic comprehension.

Granting, then, that the correct use, not the abuse, of the metronome is
of great assistance in establishing firm rhythmic sense, let us turn
our thought to the fascinating subject of--


When De Pachmann affirmed that he uses certain fingers to create certain
effects, the idea was thought to be one of the eccentric pianist's
peculiar fancies. Other players, however, have had the same thought, and
have worked along the same line--the thought that on the fingering used
depends the quality of tone. For instance you might not play an
expressive melody with a consecutive use of the fifth finger, which is
called a "cold finger" by Thuel Burnham. He would use instead the third,
a "warm finger," to give out a soulful melody.


The pianist who desires to play effectively, must continually strive for
variety of tone, for tonal coloring. These can be studied in scales,
chords, arpeggios and other technical forms. The singer seeks to make a
tone of resonant color, not a straight, flat tone; the pianist, on his
part, endeavors to give color and variety to his playing in the same
way. Harold Bauer thinks variety must be secured by the contrast of one
tone with another. Even a very harsh tone may be beautiful in its right
place, owing to its relation to other tones, and its ability to express
an idea. To render the playing expressive by the contrast of light and
shade, by tonal gradations, by all varieties of touch, by all the
subtleties of _nuance_, is a great art, and only the most gifted ever
master it in its perfection. These are the things that enchant us in
Paderewski's performance, and in the tonal coloring of Gabrilowitsch.
Hofmann's playing is a marvel of atmosphere and color; such playing is
an object lesson to students, a lesson in variety of light and shade,
the shifting of exquisite tonal tints.

The sensitive musician is highly susceptible to color effects in nature,
in art or in objects about him. Certain colors attract him, for he sees
an affinity between them and the tonal effects he strives to produce.
Other colors repel, perhaps for the opposite reason. Brilliant red is a
warlike color, and finds analogous expression in such pieces as Chopin's
Polonaise _Militaire_, and MacDowell's Polonaise. We cannot help seeing,
feeling the color red, when playing such music. Soft pink and rose for
love music, tender blues and shades of gray for nocturnes and night
pieces are some of the affinities of tone and color. Warm shades of
yellow and golden brown suggest an atmosphere of early autumn, while
delicate or vivid greens give thoughts of spring and luscious summer.
Certain pieces of Mozart seem to bring before us the rich greens of a
summer landscape; the Fantaisie in C minor, and the Pastorale Varie are
of this type.

Arthur Hochman says: "Colors mean so much to me; some are so beautiful,
the various shades of red for instance, then the golden yellows, rich
warm browns, and liquid blues. We can make as wonderful combinations in
tone color as ever painter put upon canvas. To me dark red speaks of
something tender, heart-searching, mysterious. On the other hand the
shades of yellow express gaiety and brightness."

It has been said that a pianist should study color effects in order to
express them in his playing. He can do this to special advantage at the
theater or opera, where he can see unrolled before him the greatest
possible variety in light and shade, in colors, and in the constantly
changing panorama of action and emotion.

The pianist can receive many ideas of tone color when listening to a
great singer, and watching the infinite tonal gradations produced on
the "greatest of all instruments," the human voice.

In short the pianist draws from many sources the experience, the feeling
and emotion with which he strives to inspire the tones he evokes from
his instrument. The keener his perceptions, the more he labors, suffers,
and _lives_, the more he will be able to express through his chosen
medium--the piano!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Piano Mastery - Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers" ***

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