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Title: Great Pianists on Piano Playing - Study Talks with Foremost Virtuosos. A Series of Personal Educational Conferences with Renowned Masters of the Keyboard, Presenting the Most Modern Ideas upon the Subjects of Technic, Interpretation, Style and Expression
Author: Cooke, James Francis, 1875-1960
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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Study Talks with Foremost Virtuosos



A Series of Personal Educational Conferences with Renowned Masters
of the Keyboard, Presenting the Most Modern Ideas upon the Subjects
of Technic, Interpretation, Style and Expression


Theo. Presser Co.
Philadelphia, Pa.

Copyright, 1913, by Theo. Presser Co.
International Copyright Secured



1. THE ARTIST'S LIFE                                                     5

2. ARE PIANISTS BORN OR MADE?                                           24

3. THE STORY OF A WONDER-CHILD          _Pepito Arriola_                41

4. THE PIANIST OF TO-MORROW             _Wilhelm Bachaus_               52

5. ARTISTIC ASPECTS OF PIANO STUDY      _Harold Bauer_                  64

6. APPEARING IN PUBLIC                  _Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler_     80

7. IMPORTANT DETAILS IN PIANO STUDY     _Ferruccio Busoni_              97

8. DISTINCTIVE PIANO PLAYING            _Teresa Carreño_               109

9. ESSENTIALS OF TOUCH                  _Ossip Gabrilowitsch_          122

10. THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF TECHNIC    _Leopold Godowsky_             133

11. ANALYZING MASTERPIECES              _Katharine Goodson_            144

12. PROGRESS IN PIANO STUDY             _Josef Hofmann_                158

13. PIANO STUDY IN RUSSIA               _Josef Lhévinne_               170

14. SEEKING ORIGINALITY                 _Vladimir de Pachmann_         182

15. MODERN PIANISTIC PROBLEMS           _Max Pauer_                    197

16. ESSENTIALS OF ARTISTIC PLAYING      _S. V. Rachmaninoff_           208

17. SYSTEMATIC MUSICAL TRAINING         _A. Reisenauer_                222

18. THE TRAINING OF THE VIRTUOSO        _E. Sauer_                     236

19. ECONOMY IN MUSIC STUDY              _X. Scharwenka_                252

20. LEARNING A NEW PIECE                _E. Schelling_                 267

21. WHAT INTERPRETATION REALLY IS       _S. Stojowski_                 279




The father of a young woman who was preparing to become a virtuoso once
applied to a famous musical educator for advice regarding the future
career of his daughter. "I want her to become one of the greatest
pianists America has ever produced," he said. "She has talent, good
health, unlimited ambition, a good general education, and she is
industrious." The educator thought for awhile, and then said, "It is
very likely that your daughter will be successful in her chosen field,
but the amount of grinding study she will be obliged to undergo to meet
the towering standards of modern pianism is awful to contemplate. In the
end she will have the flattery of the multitude, and, let us hope, some
of their dollars as well. In return, she may have to sacrifice many of
the comforts and pleasures which women covet. The more successful she
is, the more of a nomad she must become. She will know but few days for
years when she will not be compelled to practice for hours. She becomes
a kind of chattel of the musical public. She will be harassed by
ignorant critics and perhaps annoyed by unreliable managers. In return
she has money and fame, but, in fact, far less of the great joy and
purpose of life than if she followed the customary domestic career with
some splendid man as her husband. When I was younger I used to preach
quite an opposite sermon, but the more I see of the hardships of the
artist's life the less I think of the dollars and the fame it brings. It
is hard enough for a man, but it is twice as hard for a woman."


Some cynic has contended that the much-despised "Almighty Dollar" has
been the greatest incentive to the struggling virtuoso in European music
centers. Although this may be true in a number of cases, it is certainly
unjust in others. Many of the virtuosos find travel in America so
distasteful that notwithstanding the huge golden bait, the managers have
the greatest difficulty in inducing the pianists to come back. Indeed,
there are many artists of great renown whom the managers would be glad
to coax to our country but who have withheld tempting offers for years.
One of these is Moritz Moszkowski, probably the most popular of modern
pianoforte composers of high-class music. Grieg, when he finally
consented to make the voyage to America, placed his price at two
thousand five hundred dollars for every concert--a sum which any manager
would regard prohibitive, except in the case of one world-famous
pianist. Grieg's intent was obvious.

The inconveniences of travel in America have been ridiculously
exaggerated in Europe, and many virtuosos dread the thought of an
American trip, with the great ocean yawning between the two continents,
and red-skinned savages just beyond New York or certainly not far from
Chicago. De Pachmann detests the ocean, and when he comes over in his
favorite month of June he does not dare return until the following June.
Others who have never visited America must get their idea of American
travel from some such account as that of Charles Dickens in his
unforgivable _American Notes_ (1842), in which he said, in describing
one of our railroads:

     "There is a great deal of jolting, a great deal of noise, a
     great deal of wall, not much window, a locomotive engine, a
     shriek and a bell. The cars are like shabby omnibuses
     holding thirty, forty, fifty people. In the centre of the
     carriage there is usually a stove, fed with charcoal or
     anthracite coal, which is for the most part red hot. It is
     insufferably close, and you see the hot air fluttering
     between yourself and any other object you may happen to look

There could have been but little improvement in our railroads in 1872
when Rubinstein came to America, for although he accepted $40,000 for
215 concerts during his first trip, he refused an offer of $125,000 for
only 50 concerts when a manager tried to persuade him to return.

American railroads now present the acme of comfort, convenience, and
even luxury in travel, yet the European artist has difficulty in
adjusting himself to journeys of thousands of miles crowded in a short
winter season when he has been accustomed to little trips of a few
hundred kilometers. He comes to dread the trains as we might a prison
van. Paderewski resorts to a private car, but even this luxurious mode
of travel may be very monotonous and exhausting.

The great distances must certainly account for some of the evidences of
strain which deform the faces and exhaust the minds of so many
virtuosos. The traveling salesman seems to thrive upon miles of railroad
travel as do the crews of the trains, but the virtuoso, dragged from
concert to concert by his showman, grows tired--oh, so tired, pale, wan,
listless and indifferent! At the beginning of the season he is quite
another person. The magnetism that has done so much to win him fame
shines in his eyes and seems to emanate from his finger-tips, but the
difference in his physical being at the end of the season is sickening.
Like a bedraggled, worn-out circus coming in from the wear and tear of a
hard season, he crawls wearily back to New York with a cinematographic
recollection of countless telegraph poles flying past the windows,
audience after audience, sleeping cars, budding geniuses, the inevitable
receptions with their equally inevitable chicken salad or lukewarm
oysters, and the "sweet young things," who, like Heine's mythical tribe
of _Asra_, must love or perish. Some virtuosos have the physical
strength to endure all this, even enjoy it, but many have confessed to
me that their American tours have been literal nightmares.

One of the greatest pianists was obliged to stay in New York for a while
before attempting the voyage homeward. At the time he was so weak from
the rigors of the tour that he could scarcely write his name. His
haggard face suggested the tortures of a Torquamada rather than Buffalo,
Kansas City, Denver and Pittsburgh. His voice was tired and faltering,
and his chief interest was that of the invalid--getting home as soon as
possible. To have talked with him upon music at that time would have
been an injustice. Accordingly, I led him away from the subject and
dwelt upon the woes of his native Poland, and, much to his surprise,
left him without the educational material of which I had been in quest.
He asked the reason, and I told him that a musical conference at that
time could serve no purpose.

As men and women, aside from the attainments which have made them
illustrious, virtuosos are for the most part very much like ordinary
mortals who have to content themselves at the foot of Parnassus. It has
been my privilege to know thirty or more of the most eminent artists,
and some have become good personal friends. It is interesting to observe
how several very different types of individuals may succeed in winning
public favor as virtuosos. Indeed, except for the long-haired caricature
which the public accepts as the conventional virtuoso there is no
"virtuoso type." Here is a business man, here an artist, here an
engineer, here a jurist, here an actor, here a poet and here a freak,
all of them distinguished performers. Perhaps the enthusiastic
music-lover will resent the idea of a freak becoming famous as a
pianist, but I have known no less than three men who could not possibly
be otherwise described, but who have nevertheless made both fame and
fortune as virtuosos.


The anthropologist who chooses to conduct special investigations of
freaks can find no more entertaining field than that of the remarkable
freaks of the brain, shown in the cases of some astonishing performers
whose intelligence and mental capacity in other ways has been
negligible. The classic case of Blind Tom, for instance, was that of a
freak not so very far removed in kind from the Siamese Twins, or General
Tom Thumb. Born a slave in Georgia, and wholly without what teachers
would term a musical education, Blind Tom amazed many of the most
conservative musicians of his time. It was possible for him to repeat
difficult compositions after hearing them played only once. I conversed
with him a number of years ago in New York, only to find that
intellectually and physically he was allied to the _cretin_.

Blind Tom's peculiar ability has led many hasty commentators to conclude
that music is a wholly separate mental faculty to be found particularly
in a more or less shiftless and irresponsible class of gifted but
intellectually limited human beings. The few cases of men and women
whose musical talent seems to eclipse their minds so that they remain in
utter darkness to everything else in life, should not be taken as a
basis for judging other artists of real genius and undisputed mental
breadth. I have in mind, however, the case of one pianist who is very
widely known and highly lauded, but who is very slightly removed from
the class of Blind Tom. A trained alienist, one acquainted with the
difference between the eccentricities which frequently accompany
greatness and the unconscious physical and psychical evidences of idiocy
which so clearly agree with the antics of the chimpanzee or the droll
Capuchin monkeys, might find in the performer to whom I refer a subject
for some very interesting, not to say startling reflections. Few have
ever been successful in inducing this pianist to talk upon any other
subject than music for more than a few minutes at a time. Another
pianist, who was distinguished as a Liszt pupil, and who toured America
repeatedly, seemed to have a hatred for the piano that amounted to an
obsession. "Look," he exclaimed, "I am its slave. It has sent me round
and round the world, night after night, year after year. It has cursed
me like a wandering Jew. No rest, no home, no liberty. Do you wonder
that I drink to forget it?"


And drink he did in Bacchanalian measure! One time he gave an
unconscious exhibition of his technical ability that, while regrettable,
would have been of immense interest to psychologists who are seeking to
prove that music depends upon a separate operation of a special
"faculty." During his American tours I called frequently upon this
virtuoso for the purpose of investigating his method of playing. He was
rarely free from the influence of alcohol for more than a few hours at
a time. One morning it was necessary for me to see him professionally,
and when I found him at his hotel he was in a truly disgraceful
condition. I remember that he was unable to stand, from the fact that he
fell upon me while I was sitting in a Morris chair. He was barely able
to talk, and just prior to my leaving he insisted upon scrawling upon
his visiting card, "Zur freundlichen Errinerung, auf einen sehr späten
Abend." (Friendly remembrances of a very late evening.) Since it was
still very early in the morning, it may be realized that he had lost all
idea of his whereabouts. Nevertheless, he sat at the piano keyboard and
played tremendously difficult compositions by Liszt and
Brahms--compositions which compelled his hands to leap from one part of
the keyboard to the other as in the case of the Liszt _Campanella_. He
never missed a note until he lost his balance upon the piano stool and
fell to the floor. Disgusting and pathetic as the exhibition was, I
could not help feeling that I was witnessing a marvelous instance of
automatism, that wonderful power of the mind working through the body to
reproduce, apparently without effort or thought, operations which have
been repeated so many times that they have become "second nature." More
than this, it indicated clearly that while the better part of the man's
body was "dead to the world," the faculty he had cultivated to the
highest extent still remained alive. Some years later this man succumbed
to alcoholism.


Contrasted with a type of this kind may be mentioned such men as Sauer,
Rachmaninov, d'Albert, Paderewski, Godowsky, Bachaus, Rosenthal, Pauer,
Joseffy, Stojowski, Scharwenka, Gabrilowitsch, Hofmann, Bauer, Lhévinne,
to say nothing of the ladies, Bloomfield-Zeisler, Carreño, Goodson, _et
al._, many of whom are intellectual giants. Most all are exceedingly
regular in their habits, and at least two are strong temperance
advocates. Intellectually, pianists of this class represent a very
remarkable kind of mentality. One is impressed with the surprising
quickness with which their brains operate even in ordinary conversation.
Speaking in alien languages, they find comparatively little difficulty
in expressing themselves with rapidity and fluency. Very few great
singers ever acquire a similar ease. These pianists are wonderfully well
read, many being acquainted with the literature of three or more tongues
in the original. Indeed, it is not unusual to find them skipping through
several languages during ordinary conversation without realizing that
they are performing linguistic feats that would put the average college
graduate to shame. They are familiar with art, science, politics,
manufactures, even in their most recent developments. "What is your
favorite type of aëroplane?" asked one some years ago in the
kindergarten days of cloud navigation. I told him that I had made no
choice, since I had never seen a flying machine, despite the fact that
I was a native of the country that gave it birth. He then vouchsafed his
opinions and entered into a physical and mechanical discussion of the
matter, indicating that he had spent hours in getting the whole subject
straightened out in his mind. This same man, a German, knew whole cantos
of the _Inferno_ by heart, and could repeat long scenes from _King Lear_
with a very creditable English accent.

The average American "tired business man" who is inclined to look upon
the touring virtuoso as "only a pianist" would be immensely surprised if
he were called upon to compare his store of "universal" information with
that of the performer. He would soon see that his long close confinement
behind the bars of the dollar sign had made him the intellectual
inferior of the musician he almost ignores. But it is hardly fair to
compare these famous interpreters with the average "tired business man."
They are the Cecil Rhodes, the Thomas Edisons, the Maurice Maeterlincks
of their fields. It is easy enough to find musicians of smaller life
opportunities basking in their ignorance and conceit.

While the virtuoso may be described as intellectual in the broader sense
of the term, he usually has a great fear of becoming academic. He
aspires to be artistic rather than scholarly. He strives to elevate
rather than to teach--in the strictly pedagogical sense. Some of the
greatest performers have been notoriously weak as teachers. They do not
seek the walls of the college, neither do they long for the cheap
_Bohemianism_ that so many of the French feuilletonists delight in
describing. (Why should the immorality of the artist's life be laid at
the doors of fair Bohemia?) The artist's life is wrapped up in making
his readings of master works more significant, more eloquent, more
beautiful. He is interested in everything that contributes to his
artistry, whether it be literature, science, history, art or the technic
of his own interpretative development. He penetrates the various mystic
problems which surround piano playing by the infallible process of
persistent study and reflection. The psychical phase of his work
interests him immensely, particularly the phenomena of personal
attraction--often called magnetism.


Magnetism is surely one of the most enviable possessions of the
successful pianist. Just what magnetism is and how it comes to be, few
psychologists attempt to relate. We all have our theories, just why one
pianist who often blunders as readily as a Rubinstein, or who displays
his many shortcomings at every concert can invariably draw larger
audiences and arouse more applause than his confrère with weaker vital
forces, although he be admittedly a better technician, a more highly
educated gentleman and perhaps a more sensitive musician.

Charles Frohman, keenest of theatrical producers, attributed the actor's
success to "vitality," and in doing this he merely chose one of the
weaker synonyms of magnetism. Vitality in this sense does not imply
great bodily strength. It is rather soul-strength, mind-strength,
life-strength. Professor John D. Quackenbos, A.M., M.D., formerly of
Columbia University, essays the following definition of magnetism in his
excellent _Hypnotic Therapeutics_:

     "Magnetism is nothing more than earnestness and sincerity,
     coupled with insight, sympathy, patience and tact. These
     essentials cannot be bought and cannot be taught. They are
     'born by nature,' they are dyed with 'the red ripe of the

But Dr. Quackenbos is a physician and a philosopher. Had he been a
lexicographer he would have found the term magnetism far more inclusive.
He would at least have admitted the phenomenon which we have witnessed
so often when one possessed with volcanic vitality overwhelms a great

The old idea that magnetism is a kind of invisible form of intellectual
or psychic electricity has gone down the grotesque phrenological
vagaries of Gall as well as some of the pseudoscientific theories of
that very unusual man, Mesmer. We all possess what is known as
magnetism. Some have it in an unusual degree, as did Edwin Booth, Franz
Liszt, Phillips Brooks and Bismarck. It was surely neither the art nor
the ability of Daniel Webster that made his audiences accept some of his
fatuous platitudes as great utterances, nor was it the histrionic talent
alone of Richard Mansfield that enabled him to wring success from such
an obvious theatrical contraption as _Prince Karl_. Both Webster, with
his fathomless eyes and his ponderous voice, and Mansfield, with his
compelling personality, were exceptional examples of magnetism.


Among virtuosos Paderewski is peculiarly forceful in the personal spell
he casts over his audience. Someone has said that it cost one hundred
thousand dollars to exploit his hair before he made his first American
tour. But it was by no means curiosity to see his hair which kept on
filling auditorium after auditorium. I attended his first concert in New
York, and was amazed to see a comparatively small gathering of musical
zealots. His command of the audience was at once imperial. The critics,
some of whom would have found Paderewski's hirsute crown a delightful
rack upon which to hang their ridicule, went into ecstasies instead. His
art and his striking personality, entirely apart from his appearance,
soon made him the greatest concert attraction in the musical world.
Anyone who has conversed with him for more than a few moments realizes
what the meaning of the word magnetism is. His entire bearing--his lofty
attitude of mind, his personal dignity all contribute to the
inexplicable attraction that the arch hypnotist Mesmer first described
as animal magnetism.

That magnetism of the pianist must be considered wholly apart from
personal beauty and great physical strength is obvious to anyone who has
given the subject a moment's thought. Many of the artists already
mentioned (in this book) who possess magnetism similar to that of
Paderewski could surely never make claim for personal beauty. Neither is
magnetism akin to that attraction we all experience when we see a
powerful, well-groomed horse, a sleek hound, a handsome tiger--that is,
it is not mere admiration for a beautiful animal. Whether it has any
similarity to the mysterious charm which makes the doomed bird lose
control of its wings upon the approach of a snake is difficult to
estimate. Certainly, in the paraphernalia of the modern recital with its
lowered lights and its solitary figure playing away at a polished
instrument one may find something of the physical apparatus employed by
the professional hypnotist to insure concentration--but even this can
not account for the pianist's real attractiveness. If Mr. Frohman's
"vitality" means the "vital spark," the "life element," it comes very
close to a true definition of magnetism, for success without this
precious Promethean force is inconceivable. It may be only a smouldering
ember in the soul of a dying Chopin, but if it is there it is
irresistible until it becomes extinct. Facial beauty and physical
prowess all made way for the kind of magnetism that Socrates, George
Sand, Julius Cæsar, Henry VIII, Paganini, Emerson, Dean Swift or Richard
Wagner possessed.

More wonderful still is the fact that magnetism is by no means confined
to those who have finely trained intellects or who have achieved great
reputations. Some vaudeville buffoon or some gypsy fiddler may have
more attractive power than the virtuoso who had spent years in
developing his mind and his technic. The average virtuoso thinks far
more of his "geist," his "talent" (or as Emerson would have it, "the
shadow of the soul--the otherwise") than he does of his technic, or his
cadenzas. By what mystic means magnetism may be developed, the writer
does not pretend to know. Possibly by placing one's deeper self (shall
we say "subconscious self") in closer communion with the great throbbing
problems of the invisible though perpetually evident forces of nature
which surround us we may become more alive, more sensitively vivified.
What would it mean to the young virtuoso if he could go to some occult
master, some seer of a higher thought, and acquire that lode-stone*
which has drawn fame and fortune to the blessed few? Hundreds have spent
fortunes upon charlatans in the attempt.

All artists know the part that the audience itself plays in falling
under the magnetic spell of the performer. Its connection with the
phenomena of autosuggestion is very clear. Dr. Wundt, the famous German
psychologist, showed a class of students how superstitions unconsciously
acquired in early life affect sensible adults who have long since passed
the stage at which they might put any credence in omens. At a concert
given by a famous player, the audience has been well schooled in
anticipation. The artist always appears under a halo his reputation has
made for him. This very reputation makes his conquest far easier than
that of the novice who has to prove his ability before he can win the
sympathy of the audience. He is far more likely to find the audience _en
rapport_ than indifferent. Sometime, at the play in a theater, watch how
the audience will unconsciously mirror the facial expressions of the
forceful actor. In some similar manner, the virtuoso on the concert
platform sensitizes the minds and emotions of the sympathetic audience.
If the effect is deep and lasting, the artist is said to possess that
Kohinoor of virtuosodom--magnetism.

Some widely read critics have made the very natural error of confounding
magnetism with personality. These words have quite different
connotations--personality comprehending the more subtle force of
magnetism. An artist's individual worth is very closely allied with his
personality--that is, his whole extrinsic attitude toward the thought
and action of the world about him. How important personality is may be
judged by the widely advertised efforts of the manufacturers of
piano-playing machines to convince the public that their products, often
astonishingly fine, do actually reproduce the individual effects which
come from the playing of the living artist. Piano-playing machines have
their place, and it is an important one. However, wonderful as they may
be, they can never be anything but machines. They bring unquestioned joy
to thousands, and they act as missionaries for both music and the
music-teacher by taking the art into countless homes where it might
otherwise never have penetrated, thus creating the foundation for a
strong desire for a thorough study of music. The piano-playing machine
may easily boast of a mechanism as wonderful as that of a Liszt, a
d'Albert or a Bachaus, but it can no more claim personality than the
typewriter upon which this article is being written can claim to
reproduce the individuality which characterizes the handwriting of
myriads of different persons. Personality, then, is the virtuoso's one
great unassailable stronghold. It is personality that makes us want to
hear a half dozen different renderings of a single Beethoven sonata by a
half dozen different pianists. Each has the charm and flavor of the

But personality in its relation to art has been so exquisitely defined
by the inimitable British essayist, A. C. Benson, that we can do no
better than to quote his words:

"I have lately come to perceive that the one thing which gives value to
any piece of art, whether it be book, or picture, or music, is that
subtle and evasive thing which is called personality. No amount of
labor, of zest, even of accomplishment, can make up for the absence of
this quality. It must be an almost instinctive thing, I believe. Of
course, the mere presence of personality in a work of art is not
sufficient, because the personality revealed may be lacking in charm;
and charm, again, is an instinctive thing. No artist can set out to
capture charm; he will toil all the night and take nothing; but what
every artist can and must aim at is to have a perfectly sincere point of
view. He must take his chance as to whether his point of view is an
attractive one; but sincerity is the one indispensable thing. It is
useless to take opinions on trust, to retail them, to adopt them; they
must be formed, created, felt. The work of a sincere artist is almost
certain to have some value; the work of an insincere artist is of its
very nature worthless."

Mr. Benson's "charm" is what the virtuoso feels as magnetism. It puts
something into the artist's playing that he cannot define. For a moment
the vital spark flares into a bewildering flame, and all his world is
peopled with moths hovering around the "divine fire."


If we have dwelt too long upon magnetism, those who know its importance
in the artist's life will readily perceive the reason. But do not let us
be led away into thinking that magnetism can take the place of hard
work. Even the tiny prodigy has a career of work behind him, and the
master pianist has often climbed to his position over _Matterhorns_ and
_Mt. Blancs_ of industry. Days of practice, months of study, years of
struggle are part of the biography of almost every one who has attained
real greatness. What a pity to destroy time-old illusions! Some prefer
to think of their artist heroes dreaming their lives away in the hectic
cafés of Pesth or buried in the melancholy, absinthe and paresis of some
morbid cabaret of Paris. As a matter of fact, the best known pianists
live a totally different life--a life of grind, grind, grind--incessant
study, endless practice and ceaseless search for means to raise their
artistic standing. In some quiet country villa, miles away from the
center of unlicensed Bacchanalian revels, the virtuoso may be found
working hard upon next season's repertoire.

After all, the greatest thing in the artist's life is W-O-R-K.



Some years ago the Director of the Leipsic Conservatorium gave the
writer a complete record of the number of graduates of the conservatory
from the founding to the late nineties. Of the thousands of students who
had passed through the institution only a few had gained wide
prominence. Hardly one student in one hundred had won his way into the
most voluminous of the musical biographical dictionaries. The proportion
of distinguished graduates to those who fail to gain renown is very high
at Leipsic compared with many other institutions. What becomes of the
thousands of students all working frantically with the hope of becoming
famous pianists? Surely, so much earnest effort can not be wasted even
though all can not win the race? Those who often convince themselves
that they have failed go on to perform a more useful service to society
than the laurel-crowned virtuoso. Unheralded and unapplauded, they
become the teachers, the true missionaries of _Frau Musik_ to the

What is it then, which promotes a few "fortunate" ones from the armies
of students all over America and Europe and makes of them great
virtuosos? What must one do to become a virtuoso? How long must one
study before one may make a _début_? What does a great virtuoso receive
for his performances? How long does the virtuoso practice each day? What
exercises does he use? All these and many more similar questions crop up
regularly in the offices of music critics and in the studios of
teachers. Unfortunately, a definite answer can be given to none,
although a great deal may be learned by reviewing some of the
experiences of one who became great.

Some virtuosos actually seem to be born with the heavenly gift. Many
indeed are sons and daughters of parents who see their own demolished
dreams realized in the triumphs of their children. When little Nathan
creeps to the piano and quite without the help of his elders picks out
the song he has heard his mother sing,--all the neighbors in Odessa know
it the next day. "A wonder child perhaps!" Oh happy augury of fame and
fortune! Little Nathan shall have the best of instruction. His mother
will teach him at first, of course. She will shape his little fingers to
the keyboard. She will sing sweet folk melodies in his ear,--songs of
labor, struggle, exile. She will count laboriously day after day until
he "plays in time." All the while the little mother sees far beyond the
Ghetto,--out into the great world,--grand auditoriums, breathless
crowds, countless lights, nobles granting trinkets, bravos from a
thousand throats, Nathan surrounded by endless wreaths of laurel,--Oh,
it is all too much,--"Nathan! Nathan! you are playing far too fast. One,
two, three, four,--one, two, three, four,--there, that is the tempo
Clementi would have had it. Fine! Some day, Nathan, you will be a great
pianist and--" etc., etc.

Nathan next goes to the great teacher. He is already eight years old and
fairly leaping out of his mother's arms. Two years with the teacher and
Nathan is probably ready for a _début_ as a wonder child. The critics
are kind. If his parents are very poor Nathan may go from town to town
for awhile being exhibited like a trained poodle or a tiny acrobat. The
further he gets from home the more severe his critics become, and Nathan
and his mother hurry back to the old teachers, who tell them that Nathan
must still practice long and hard as well as do something to build up
his general education. The world in these days looks askance at the
musician who aside from his keyboard accomplishments is a numskull. More
sacrifice for Nathan's mother and father,--but what are poverty and
deprivation with such a goal in sight? Nathan studies for some years in
the schools and in the high schools as well as at the conservatory. In
the music school he will doubtless spend six years in all,--two years in
the post-graduate or master classes, following the regular four-year
course. When sufficiently capable he will take a few pupils at a kopeck
or so per lesson to help out with the family expenses.

Nathan graduates from the conservatory with high honors. Will the public
now receive him as a great pianist? A concert is planned and Nathan
plays. Day and night for years his whole family have been looking
forward to that concert. Let us concede that the concert is a triumph.
Does he find fame and fortune waiting for him next morning? No
indeed,--there are a thousand Nathans all equally accomplished. Again he
must work and again he must concertize. Perhaps after years of strife a
manager may approach him some day with a contract. Lucky Nathan,--have
you not a thousand brothers who may never see a contract? Then,--"Can it
be possible Nathan,--is it really America,--America the virtuoso's
Golconda!" Nathan makes a glorious _tournée_. Perhaps the little mother
goes with him. More likely she stays at home in Odessa waiting with
glistening eyes for each incoming mail. Pupils come to Nathan and he
charges for each lesson a sum equaling his father's former weekly wage.
Away with the Ghetto! Away with poverty! Away with oblivion! Nathan is a
real virtuoso,--a veritable _Meister_!


How does the American aspirant compete with Nathan? Are there not as
fine teachers here in America as in Europe? Is it really necessary to go
to Europe to "finish" one's musical education? Can one not become a
virtuoso in America?--more questions with which editors and teachers are
constantly plied. Can one who for years has waged a battle for the
American teacher and American musical education answer this question
without bias? Can we who trace the roots of our lineage back to barren
Plymouth or stolid New Netherland judge the question fairly and

One case suffices to show the road which the American virtuoso is likely
to travel. She is still a young woman, in her twenties. Among her
teachers was one who ranks among the very best in America. Her general
education was excellent,--in fact far superior to that of the average
young lady of good family in continental Europe. While in her early
teens she became the leading feature at conservatory concerts. Her
teacher won many a profitable pupil through her brilliant playing. She
studies, as do so many American pupils, without making a regular
business of it. Compared with the six year all day, week in and week out
course which Nathan pursued in Odessa our little compatriot was at a
decided disadvantage. But who ever heard of a music student making a
regular business of learning the profession as would a doctor or a
lawyer? Have not students contented themselves with two lessons a week
since time immemorial? Need we go further to discover one of the flaws
in our own educational system,--a flaw that is not due to the teacher or
to the methods of instruction, but rather to our time-old custom. Two
lessons a week are adequate for the student who does not aspire to
become a professional, but altogether insufficient for the student who
must accomplish a vast amount of work in a comparatively small number of
years. She requires constant advice, regular daily instruction and
careful attention under experienced instructors. Teachers are not to be
blamed if she does not receive this kind of attention, as there are
abundant opportunities now in America to receive systematic training
under teachers as thorough, as able and as inspiring as may be found in
Europe. The excuse that the expense is greater in America falls when we
learn the very high prices charged by leading teachers in Germany,
Austria and France.

To go back to our particular case, the young lady is informed at the end
of a course of two or three lessons a week during two or three years,
that she is a full-fledged virtuoso and may now enter the concert field
to compete with Carreño, Bloomfield-Zeisler or Goodson. Her playing is
obviously superior to that of her contemporary students. Someone insists
upon a short course of study abroad,--not because it is necessary, but
because it might add to her reputation and make her first flights in the
American concert field more spectacular. Accordingly she goes to Europe,
only to find that she is literally surrounded by budding virtuosos,--an
army of Nathans, any one of whom might easily eclipse her. Against her
personal charm, her new-world vigor, her Yankee smartness, Nathan places
his years of systematic training, his soul saturated in the music and
art of past centuries of European endeavor and perhaps his youth of
poverty which makes success imperative. The young lady's European
teacher frankly tells her that while her playing is delightful for the
salon or parlor she will never do for the great concert hall. She must
learn to play with more power, more virility, more character.
Accordingly he sets her at work along special muscle-building,
tone-cultivating, speed-making lines of technic in order to make up for
the lack of the training which the young lady might easily have had at
home had her parents been schooled to systematic daily study as a
necessity. Her first technical exercises with the new teacher are so
simple that the young woman is on the verge of despair until she
realizes that her playing is really taking on a new and more mature
character. She has been lifting fifty pound weights occasionally. Her
teacher is training her to lift one hundred pound weights every day. She
has been sketching in pastels,--her teacher is now teaching her how to
make Velasquez-like strokes in oils. Her gain is not a mere matter of
loudness. She could play quite as loud before she went to Europe. There
is something mature in this new style of playing, something that
resembles the playing of the other virtuosos she has heard. Who is the
great European master who is working such great wonders for her? None
other than a celebrated teacher who taught for years in America,--a
master no better than dozens of others in America right now. Can the
teachers in America be blamed if the parents and the pupils fail to make
as serious and continued an effort here? Atmosphere,--bosh! Work, long,
hard and unrelenting,--that is the salvation of the student who would
become a virtuoso. With our increasing wealth and advancing culture
American parents are beginning to discover that given the same work and
the same amount of instruction musical education in America differs very
slightly from musical education abroad.

But we are deserting our young virtuoso most ungallantly. In Berlin she
hears so many concerts and recitals, so many different styles of
playing, that she begins to think for herself and her sense of artistic
discrimination--interpretation, if you will--becomes more and more
acute. Provided with funds for attending concerts, she does regularly,
whereas in America she neglected opportunities equally good. She never
realized before that there could be so much to a Brahms _Intermezzo_ or
a Chopin _Ballade_. At the end of her first year her American
common-sense tells her that a plunge into the concert field is still
dangerous. Accordingly she remains two, or possibly three, more years
and at the end if she has worked hard she is convinced that with proper
management she may stand some chance of winning that fickle treasure,
public favor.

"But," persists the reader, "it would have been possible for her to have
accomplished the same work at home in America." Most certainly, if she
had had any one of the hundred or more virtuoso teachers now resident in
the United States all of whom are capable of bringing a highly talented
pupil to virtuoso heights,--and if in their teaching they had exerted
sufficient will-power to demand from the pupil and the pupil's parents
the same conditions which would govern the work of the same pupil
studying in Europe. Through long tradition and by means of endless
experiences the conditions have been established in Europe. The student
who aspires to become a professional is given a distinctively
professional course. In America the need for such a training is but
scantily appreciated. Only a very few of us are able to appraise the
real importance of music in the advancement of human civilization, nor
is this unusual, since most of us have but to go back but a very few
generations to encounter our blessed Puritan and Quaker ancestors to
whom all music, barring the lugubrious Psalm singing, was the
inspiration of the devil. The teachers, as has been said before, are
fully ready and more than anxious to give the kind of training required.
Very frequently parents are themselves to blame for the slender
_dilettante_ style of playing which their well-instructed children
present. They measure the needs of the concert hall by the dimensions of
the parlor. The teacher of the would-be professional pupil aspires to
produce a quantity of tone that will fill an auditorium seating at least
one thousand people. The pupil at home is enjoined not to "bang" or
"pound." The result is a feeble, characterless tone which rarely fills
an auditorium as it should. The actor can not forever rehearse in
whispers if he is to fill a huge theater, and the concert pianist must
have a strong, sure, resilient touch in order to bring about climaxes
and make the range of his dynamic power all-comprehensive. Indeed, the
separation from home ties, or shall we call them home interferences, is
often more responsible for the results achieved abroad than superior

Unfortunately, the number of virtuosos who have been taught exclusively
in America is really very small. It is not a question of ability upon
the part of the teacher or talent upon the part of the pupil. It is
entirely a matter of the attitudes of the teacher, the pupil and the
pupil's home advisers. Success demands strong-willed discipline and the
most lofty standards imaginable. Teachers who have taught for years in
America have returned to Europe, doubled and quadrupled their fees, and,
under old-world surroundings and with more rigid standards of artistic
work, have produced results they declare would have been impossible in
America. The author contends that these results would have been readily
forthcoming if we in America assumed the same earnest, persistent
attitude toward the work itself. If these words do no more than reach
the eyes of some of those who are advising students wrongly in this
matter they will not have been written in vain. The European concert
triumphs of Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, whose training was received wholly in
the United States, is an indication of what may be achieved in America
if the right course is pursued. Conditions are changing rapidly in our
country, particularly in the wonderful West and Middle-West. It seems
likely that many pianists without foreign instruction of any kind will
have as great success in our concert field as have many of our best
opera singers who have never had a lesson "on the other side."

Our little pianist has again been playing truant from our manuscript.
Let us see what happens to her when she finished her work with the
famous teacher abroad. Surely the making of a virtuoso is an expensive
matter. Let us take the estimate of the young pianist's father, who
practically mortgaged his financial existence to give his daughter the
right musical training.

    Lessons with first teacher at $1.00 a lesson.
        Eighty lessons a year for four years              $240.00

    Lessons with second American teacher for two
       years at $2.00 a lesson                             320.00

    Lessons with third American teacher at $4.00 a
        lesson for one year and six months                 480.00

    Music, books, etc.                                     160.00

    Piano                                                  750.00

    Maintenance for eight years at $200.00 a year
        (minimum estimate)                                1600.00

    Four years in Europe, travel, board, instruction,
        advertising, etc.                                 6000.00
            TOTAL                                        $9550.00

But the expense has only begun, if you please. The harvest is still a
long way off. According to the fine traditions established by the late
P. T. Barnum, there must be a European furore to precede the American
advent of the musical star. The journalistic astronomers must point
their telescopes long and steadily at the European firmament and
proclaim their discovery in the columns of their papers. Again, furores
are expensive. One must hire an auditorium, hire an orchestra, and,
according to some very frank and disgusted young virtuosos who have
failed to succeed, hire a critic or so like the amusing Trotter in
_Fanny's First Play_. What with three and four concerts a night why
should not the critics have a _pourboire_ for extra critical attention?
Fortunately the best papers hold their criticisms above price. Bought
criticisms are very rare, and if the young pianist or any representative
approaches certain critics with any such suggestion, she may count upon
faring very badly in cold type on the following day.

If Miss Virtuoso makes a success, her press notices are sent to her
American concert managers, who purchase space in some American musical
newspapers and reprint these notices. Publicity of this kind is
legitimate, as the American public knows that in most cases these press
notices are reprinted solely as advertising. It is simply the commercial
process of "acquainting the trade" and if done right may prove one of
the most fortunate investments for the young artist. Do not imagine,
however, that the pianist's American manager speculates in the
problematical success of the coming virtuoso. On the contrary, his fee
for putting the artist on his "list" and promoting her interests may
range from five hundred dollars to two thousand dollars in advance.
After that the manager usually requires a commission on all engagements
"booked." Graft? Spoils? Plunder? Not a bit of it. If the manager is a
good one--that is, if he is an upright business man well schooled in his
work--the investment should prove a good one. Exploiting a new artist
is a matter demanding brains, energy, ingenuity and experience. A
manufacturing firm attempting to put some new product upon an already
crowded market would spend not $2000.00 a year in advertising, but
$100,000.00. The manager must maintain an organization, he must travel,
he must advertise and he too must live. If he succeeds in marketing the
services of the young virtuoso at one or two hundred dollars a concert,
the returns soon begin to overtake the incessant expenses. However, only
the most persistent and talented artists survive to reap these rewards.
The late Henry Wolfsohn, one of the greatest managers America has ever
produced, told the writer frequently that the task of introducing a new
artist was one of the most thankless and uncertain undertakings

Does the work, the time, the expense frighten you, little miss at the
keyboard? Do you fear the grind, the grueling disappoints, the unceasing
sacrifices? Then abandon your great career and join the army of useful
music workers who are teaching the young people of the land to love
music as it should be loved,--not in hysterical outbursts in the concert
hall but in the home circle. If you have the unextinguishable fire
within your soul, if you have the talent from on high, if you have
health, energy, system, vitality, nothing can stop you from becoming
great. Advice, interferences, obstacles will be nothing to you. You will
work day and night to reach your goal. What better guide could you
possibly have than the words of the great pianists themselves? While
the ensuing pages were compiled with the view of helping the amateur
performer quite as much as the student who would become a professional
pianist, you will nevertheless find in the expressions of the really
great virtuosos a wealth of information and practical advice.

Most of the following chapters are the results of many different
conferences with the greatest living pianists. All have had the revision
of the artists in person before publication was undertaken. In order to
indicate how carefully and willingly this was done by the pianists it is
interesting to note the case of the great Russian composer-virtuoso
Rachmaninoff. The original conference was conducted in German and in
French. The material was arranged in manuscript form in English. M.
Rachmaninoff then requested a second conference. In the mean time he had
had the better part of the manuscript translated into his native
Russian. However, in order to insure accuracy in the use of words, the
writer translated the entire matter back into German in the pianist's
presence. M. Rachmaninoff did not speak English and the writer did not
speak Russian.

The chapter relating to Harold Bauer is the result of a conference
conducted in English. Mr. Bauer's use of his native tongue is as fluent
and eloquent as a poet or an orator. In order that his ideas might have
the best possible expression the entire chapter was written several
times in manuscript and carefully rearranged and rephrased by Mr. Bauer
in person.

Some of the conferences lasted well on through the night. The writer's
twenty years' experience in teaching was constantly needed to grasp
different shadings of meaning that some pianists found difficult to
phrase. Many indeed have felt their weakness in the art of verbal
expression and have rejoiced to have their ideas clothed with fitting
words. Complete frankness and sincerity were encouraged in every case.
The results of the conference with Wilhelm Bachaus, conceded by many
other pianists to be the foremost "technicalist" of the day, are, it
will be observed, altogether different in the statement of teaching
principles from those of Harold Bauer. Each is a sincere expression of
individual opinion and the thoughtful student by weighing the ideas of
both may reach conclusions immensely to his personal advantage.

No wider range of views upon the subject of pianoforte playing could
possibly come between the covers of a book. The student, the teacher,
and the music lover who acquaints himself with the opinions of the
different masters of the keyboard can not fail to have a very clear
insight into the best contemporary ideas upon technic, interpretation,
style and expression. The author--or shall he call himself a
collector?--believes that the use of the questions following each
chapter will be found practical and useful in the work of both clubs and
classes. Practice, however, is still more important than precept. The
student might easily learn this book "by heart" and yet be unable to
play a perfect scale. Let him remember the words of Locke:

    "Men of much reading are greatly learned: but may be little knowing."

After all, the virtuoso is great because he really knows and W-O-R-K-S.



Pepito Arriola was born on the 14th of December, 1897. A careful
investigation of his ancestry reveals that no less than twelve of his
forefathers and relations have been pronouncedly musical. His father was
a physician, but his mother was a musician. His early musical training
was given to him exclusively by his mother. The following was prepared
when he was twelve years old and at that time he was apparently a
perfectly healthy child, with the normal activity of a boy of his age
and with a little more general education in addition to his music than
the average child at fifteen or sixteen possesses. He spoke French,
German (fluently) and Spanish, but little English. Despite the fact that
he had received numerous honors from European monarchs and famous
musicians, he was exceptionally modest. In his playing he seemed never
to miss a note in even very complicated compositions and his musical
maturity and point of view were truly astonishing. The following is
particularly valuable from an educational standpoint, because of the
absolute unaffectedness of the child's narrative of his own training.

(The following conference was conducted in German and French.)

[Illustration: PEPITO ARRIOLA]





So much that was of interest to me was continually occurring while I was
a child that it all seems like a kind of haze to me. I cannot remember
when I first commenced to play, for my mother tells me that I wanted to
reach out for the keyboard before I was out of her arms. I have also
learned that when I was about two and one-half years of age, I could
quite readily play after my mother anything that the size of my hand
would permit me to play.

I loved music so dearly, and it was such fun to run over the keyboard
and make the pretty sounds, that the piano was really my first and best
toy. I loved to hear my mother play, and continually begged her to play
for me so that I could play the same pieces after her. I knew nothing of
musical notation and played entirely by ear, which seemed to me the most
natural way to play. At that time, word was sent to the King of Spain
that I showed talent, and he became interested in me, and I played
before him.


A short time afterward, Herr Arthur Nikisch, conductor of the
_Gewandhaus_ Orchestra at Leipsic, and at one time conductor of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra in America, came to Madrid to conduct the
Philharmonic Orchestra for a special concert. Some one told him about my
playing and I was permitted to play for him. He became so interested
that he insisted upon my being taken to Leipsic for further study. I was
then four years of age, and although musical advantages in Spain are
continually increasing, my mother thought it best at the time that she
should follow the great musician's advice and that I should be taken to
the German city.

I want to say that in my earliest work, my mother made no effort to push
me or urge me to go ahead. I loved to play for the sake of playing, and
needed no coaxing to spend time at the keyboard. In my very early years
I was permitted to play in public very little, although there were
constant demands made to engage me. I was looked upon as a kind of
curiosity and my mother wanted me to study in the regular way with good
masters, and also to acquire more strength before I played in public
very much.

I did, however, play at the great Albert Hall, in London. The big
building holds 8000 people, but that was so long ago that I have almost
forgotten all about it, except that they all seemed pleased to see a
little boy of four playing in so very big a place. I also played for
royal personages, including the Kaiser of Germany, who was very good to
me and gave me a beautiful pin. I like the Kaiser very much. He seems
like a fine man.


My first teacher, aside from my mother, was a Herr Dreckendorf, of
Leipsic. He was very kind to me and took the greatest pains, but the
idea of learning the notes was very distasteful to me. I was terribly
bored with the technical exercises he gave me, but have since learned
that one can save much time by practicing scales and exercises. Although
I do not like them, I practice them every day now, for a little while,
so as to get my fingers in good working order.

In about six weeks I knew all that was expected of me in the way of
scales in octaves, sixths, thirds, double thirds, etc., and my teacher
commenced to turn his attention to studies and pieces. For the first
time I found musical notation interesting, for then I realized that it
was not necessary for me to wait until some one else played a piece
before I could begin to explore its beauties. Ah! it was wonderful,
those first days with the pieces. I was in a new country and could
hardly wait to master one at a time, so eager was I to reach the next
one and see just what it was like.

Herr Dreckendorf gave me some studies by Dussek, Cramer, the
_Inventions_ of Bach, etc., but before long the fascination of playing
beautiful pieces was so great that he found it hard to keep me away from


So hungry was I to find new musical works that when I was eight and a
half years old I could play from memory such pieces as the B flat minor
Scherzo, the A flat major Polonaise, and most of the Valses and Études
of Chopin. I also played the Sixth Rhapsody of Liszt and the C minor
Concerto of Beethoven.

In the mean time we moved to Berlin and this has been our home ever
since, so you see I have seen far more of Germany than of my native
country, Spain. In fact, it seems more natural for me to speak German
than Spanish. At the age of seven it was my good fortune to come under
the instruction of Alberto Jonas, the Spanish virtuoso, who for many
years was at the head of a large music school in America. I can never be
grateful enough to him, for he has taught me without remuneration and
not even a father could be kinder to me. When I left Berlin for my
present tour, tears came to our eyes, because I knew I was leaving my
best friend. Most of my present repertory has been acquired under Jonas
and he has been so, so exacting.

He also saw to it that my training was broad, and not confined to those
composers whose works appealed most to me. The result is that I now
appreciate the works of all the composers for the piano. Beethoven I
found very absorbing. I learned the _Appassionata Sonata_ in one week's
time, and longed for more. My teacher, however, insisted upon my going
slowly, and mastering all the little details.

I have also developed a great fondness for Bach, because I like to find
how he winds his melodies in and out, and makes such beautiful things of
them. I play a great deal of Bach, including the G minor organ Fugue,
which Liszt played the devil with in arranging it for the piano.
Goodness knows, it was difficult enough for the organ in its original
form! I don't see why Liszt wanted to make it more difficult.

Liszt is, of course, considered a great master for the piano, and I play
his works with great delight, especially the _Campanella_ with its
beautiful bell effect, but I cannot look upon Liszt as a pianistic
composer in the same way that one thinks of Chopin as a pianistic
composer. The piano was Chopin's natural tongue. Liszt's tongue, like
that of Beethoven, was the orchestra. He knew no difficulties, according
to the manner in which he wrote his own works. Consequently one must
think of the orchestra in playing Liszt's works, while the works of
Chopin suggest only the piano.


During most of my life my practice has never exceeded two hours a day.
In this country, while on tour, I never practice more than one and
one-half hours. This is not necessary, because of the concerts
themselves, which keep up my technical work. I never worry about my
fingers. If I can think the pieces right, my fingers will always play
the notes. My mother insists upon my being out in the open air all the
time I am not studying and practicing, and I am out the better part of
the day.

At my practice periods, I devote at least fifteen or twenty minutes to
technical exercises, and strive to play all the scales, in the different
forms, in all the keys, once each day. I then play some of my concert
numbers, continually trying to note if there is any place that requires
attention. If there is, I at once spend a little time trying to improve
the passage.

It is very largely a matter of thinking the musical thought right, and
then saying it in the right way. If you think it right, and your aim at
the keyboard is good, you are not likely to hit the wrong notes, even in
skips such as one finds in the Rubinstein Valse in E flat. I do not ever
remember of hitting the upper note wrong. It all seems so easy to me
that I am sure that if other children in America would look upon other
examples in the same way, they could not find their work so very
difficult. I love to practice Chopin. One cannot be so intimate with
Bach; he is a little cold and unfriendly until one knows him very well.


I have said that we play as we think. The mind must be continually
improved or the fingers will grow dull. In order to see the beauties in
music we must see the beauties in other studies. I have a private
teacher who comes to me in Berlin and teaches me different studies. I
have studied some Latin, French, and the regular school studies.
Electricity interests me more than I can tell you and I like to learn
about it, but my greatest interest is in the study of astronomy. Surely
nothing could be finer than to look at the stars. I have friends among
the astronomers of Berlin who let me look through their telescopes and
tell me all about the different constellations and the worlds that look
like moons when you see them enlarged. It is all so wonderful that it
makes one never cease thinking.

I also like to go to factories and learn how different things are made.
I think that there are so many things that one can learn outside of a
school-room. For instance, I went to a wire factory recently, and I am
sure that I found out a great many things I might never have found out
in books. One also learns by traveling, and when I am on my tours I feel
that I learn more of the different people and the way they live than I
ever could from geographies. Don't you think I am a lucky boy? One must
study geography, however, to learn about maps and the way in which
countries are formed. I have toured in Germany, Russia, and England, and
now in America. America interests me wonderfully. Everything seems so
much alive and I like the climate very much.


Musical theory bores me now, almost as much as my first technical
studies did. Richard Strauss, the great German composer, has very kindly
offered to teach me. I like him very much and he is so kind, but his
thundering musical effects sometimes seems very noisy to me. I know many
of the rules of harmony, but they are very uncomfortable and
disagreeable to me.

I would far rather write my music as it comes to me. Herr Nikisch says
that when I do it that way, I make very few blunders, but I know I can
never be a composer until I have mastered all the branches of musical
theory. I am now writing a symphony. I played some parts for Herr
Nikisch and he has agreed to produce it. Of course, the orchestral parts
will have to be written for me, but I know what instruments I want to
express certain ideas.

Putting down the notes upon paper is so tiresome. Why can't one think
the musical thoughts and have them preserved without the tedious work of
writing them out! Sometimes before I can get them on paper they are
gone--no one knows where, and the worst of all is that they never come
back. It is far greater fun to play the piano, or play football, or go


I love to read, and my favorite of all books is _The Three Musketeers_.
I have also read something of Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, and many
other writers. I like parts of the great Spanish novel _Don Quixote_,
but I find it hard to read as a whole. I think that music students ought
to read a great deal. It makes them think, and it gives them poetical

Music is, after all, only another kind of poetry, and if we get poetical
ideas from books we become more poetical, and our music becomes more
beautiful. The student who thinks only of hammering down keys at the
piano cannot play in a manner in which people will take pleasure. Piano
playing is so much more than merely pressing down keys. One has to tell
people things that cannot be told in words--that is what music is.


I do not know what it is to be nervous at concerts. I have played so
much and I am always so sure of what I am going to play that nervousness
is out of the question. Of course, I am anxious about the way in which
audiences will receive my playing. I want to please them so much and
don't want them to applaud me because I am a boy, but would rather have
them come as real music-lovers to enjoy the music itself. If I cannot
bring pleasure to them in that way I do not deserve to be before the

My concerts are usually about one hour in length, although I sometimes
play encores for some time after the concert. I make it a practice not
to eat for a few hours before the concert, as doctors have told my
mother that my mind will be in better shape. I want to thank the many
friends I have made among the students who have come to my concerts, and
I hope that I may have told them some things which will help them in
their work.




1. Should the talented child be urged or pushed ahead?

2. In what period of time should a very talented child master the
elementary outlines of technic?

3. Can Liszt be regarded as a pianistic composer in the same sense as
that in which Chopin is considered pianistic?

4. How should a very talented child's practice time be divided?

5. What part does right thinking play in execution?

6. How should the child's general education be conducted?

7. Should the education be confined to the classroom?

8. Should the musical child be encouraged to read fiction?

9. Does music resemble poetry?

10. Should one be careful about the body before concerts?

[Illustration: WILHELM BACHAUS]



Wilhelm Bachaus was born at Leipsic, March 24, 1884, two years before
the death of Franz Liszt. Nine years younger than Josef Hofmann and a
trifle more than one-half the age of Paderewski he represents a
different decade from that of other pianists included in this work.
Bachaus studied for nine years with Alois Reckendorf, a Moravian teacher
who was connected with the Leipsic Conservatory for more than thirty
years. Reckendorf had been a student of science and philosophy at the
Vienna and the Heidelberg Universities and was an earnest musician and
teacher with theories of his own. He took an especial interest in
Bachaus and was his only teacher with the exception of one year spent
with d'Albert and "three lessons with Siloti." Although Bachaus
commenced playing when he was eight years old he feels that his
professional _début_ was made in London in June, 1901, when he played
the tremendously difficult Brahms-Paganini Variations. In 1905, when
Bachaus was only twenty-one, he won the famous Rubinstein Prize at
Paris. This consists of 5000 francs offered every five years to young
men between the ages of twenty and twenty-six.

(The following conference was conducted in English and German.)





"It is somewhat surprising how very little difference exists between the
material used in piano teaching to-day and that employed forty or fifty
years ago. Of course, there has been a remarkable amount of new
technical material, exercises, studies, etc., devised, written and
published, and some of this presents the advantage of being an
improvement upon the old--an improvement which may be termed an
advance--but, taken all in all, the advance has been very slight when
compared with the astonishing advances made in other sciences and other
phases of human progress in this time.

"It would seem that the science of music (for the processes of studying
the art are undoubtedly scientific) left little territory for new
explorers and inventors. Despite the great number of études that have
been written, imagine for one moment what a desert the technic of music
would be without Czerny, Clementi, Tausig, Pischna--to say nothing of
the great works of Scarlatti and Bach, which have an effect upon the
technic, but are really great works of musical art.


"Personally, I practice scales in preference to all other forms of
technical exercises when I am preparing for a concert. Add to this
arpeggios and Bach, and you have the basis upon which my technical work
stands. Pianists who have been curious about my technical
accomplishments have apparently been amazed when I have told them that
scales are my great technical mainstay--that is, scales plus hard work.
They evidently have thought that I had some kind of alchemic secret,
like the philosopher's stone which was designed to turn the baser metals
into gold. I possess no secrets which any earnest student may not
acquire if he will work in the laboratory of music long enough. There
are certain artistic points which only come with long-continued

"As the chemist finds the desired result by interminable heart-breaking
eliminations, so the artist must weigh and test his means until he finds
the one most likely to produce the most beautiful or the most
appropriate result. But this seeking for the right effect has little to
do with the kind of technic which necessitates one to keep every muscle
employed in piano-playing properly exercised, and I may reiterate with
all possible emphasis that the source of my technical equipment is
scales, scales, scales. I find their continued daily practice not only
beneficial, but necessary. I still find it desirable to practice scales
for half an hour a day.


"It seems almost foolish to repeat what has been said so many times
about the wonderful old cantor of Leipsic, Johann Sebastian Bach.
However, there may still be some who have not yet become acquainted with
the indisputable fact that the practice of Bach is the shortest,
quickest road to technical finish. Busoni has enlarged upon Bach,
impossible as that may seem; but as a modern bridge is sometimes built
upon wonderful old foundations, Busoni has taken the idea of Bach and,
with his penetrative and interpretative ability, has been able to make
the meaning more clear and more effective. Any young pianist who aspires
to have his hands in condition to respond to the subtle suggestions of
his brain may acquire a marvelous foundation by the use of scales, Bach
and arpeggios.


"I have seen many ways and means tried out. Some seem like an attempt to
save time at the expense of thoroughness. Furthermore, the means which
have produced the great pianists of the past are likely to differ but
little from those which will produce the pianists of the future.

"The ultra-modern teacher who is inclined to think scales old-fashioned
should go to hear de Pachmann, who practices scales every day. De
Pachmann, who has been a virtuoso for a great many years, still finds
daily practice necessary, and, in addition to scales, he plays a great
deal of Bach. To-day his technic is more powerful and more comprehensive
than ever, and he attributes it in a large measure to the simplest of


"I have often been asked if the future of pianoforte composition seemed
destined to alter the technic of the instrument, as did the compositions
of Liszt, for instance. This is a difficult question, but it would seem
that the borderland of pianistic difficulty had been reached in the
compositions and transcriptions of Busoni and Godowsky. The new French
school of Debussy, Ravel and others is different in type, but does not
make any more severe technical demands.

"However, it is hard for one to imagine anything more complicated or
more difficult than the Godowsky arrangements of the Chopin studies. I
fail to see how pianoforte technic can go much beyond these, unless one
gets more fingers or more hands. Godowsky's treatment of these studies
is marvelous not only from a technical standpoint, but from a musical
standpoint as well. He has added a new flavor to the individual
masterpieces of Chopin. He has made them wonderfully clever and really
very interesting studies in harmony and counterpoint, so that one
forgets their technical intricacies in the beauty of the compositions.
One cannot say that their original beauty has been enhanced, but he has
made them wonderfully fascinating compositions despite their aggravating
complications for the student.


"The day when the show of startling technical skill was sufficient to
make a reputation for a pianist is, fortunately, past. The mechanical
playing devices have possibly been responsible for this. The public
refuses to admire anything that can be done by a machine, and longs for
something finer, more subtle, more closely allied to the soul of the
artist. This does not mean, however, that the necessity for a
comprehensive technic is depreciated. Quite the contrary is true. The
need for an all-comprehensive technic is greater than ever before. But
the public demand for the purely musical, the purely artistic, is being
continually manifested.

"Modern composers are writing with this in view rather than huge
technical combinations. The giant of to-day, to my mind, is indisputably
Rachmaninoff. He is writing the greatest original music for piano of any
living composer. All of his compositions are pianistic and he does not
condescend to pander to a trifling public taste. He is a man with a
great mind, and, in addition to this, he has a delightful sense of
proportion and a feeling for the beautiful, all of which makes him a
composer of the master mould. His compositions will endure as long as


"For others of the type of Scriabine I care less, although I am sensible
to the beauty of many of their compositions. They have not, however,
the splendid mould of Rachmaninoff, nor have they his vigorous
originality. Doubtless some of these men will produce great original
compositions in the future. Compositions that are simply not bad are
hardly worth the paper they are written upon, for they will not last as
long. The composition that will last is a great, new, original thought,
inspired, noble and elemental, but worked out with the distinctive
craftsmanship of the great master.

"I am very partial to Debussy. He has an extraordinary atmosphere, and,
after one has formed a taste for him, his compositions are alluring,
particularly his _Homage à Rameau_, _Jardins sous la pluie_ and _D'un
cahier d'esquisses_, which I have been playing upon my American tour.


"I have continually been asked, 'What is the most difficult
composition?' The question always amuses me, but I suppose it is very
human and in line with the desire to measure the highest building, the
tallest mountain, the longest river or the oldest castle. Why is such a
premium put upon mere difficulty? Strange to say, no one ever seems to
think it necessary to inquire, 'What is the most beautiful piece?'

"Difficulty in music should by no means be estimated by technical
complications. To play a Mozart concerto well is a colossally difficult
undertaking. The pianist who has worked for hours to get such a
composition as near as possible to his conception of perfection is never
given the credit for his work, except by a few connoisseurs, many of
whom have been through a similarly exacting experience. Months may be
spent upon comparatively simple compositions, such as the Haydn Sonatas
or the Mozart Sonatas, and the musical public is blind to the additional
finish or polish so evident to the virtuoso.


"The opposite of this is also true. A little show of bravura, possibly
in a passage which has not cost the pianist more than ten minutes of
frivolous practice, will turn many of the unthinking auditors into a
roaring mob. This is, of course, very distressing to the sincere artist
who strives to establish himself by his real worth.

"Of course, there are some compositions which present difficulties which
few work hard enough to surmount. Among these might be mentioned the
Godowsky-Chopin _études_ (particularly the _étude_ in A flat, Opus 25,
No. 1, which is always especially exasperating for the student
sufficiently advanced to approach it); the _Don Juan Fantasie_ of Liszt;
the Brahms-Paganini _variations_ and the Beethoven, Opus 106, which,
when properly played, demands enormous technical skill. One certainly
saves a lot of bother when one discards it from one's repertoire. If
these four pieces are not the most difficult pieces, they are certainly
among the most difficult.


"But why seek difficulty when there is so much that is quite as
beautiful and yet not difficult? Why try to make a bouquet of oak trees
when the ground is covered with exquisite flowers? The piano is a solo
instrument and has its limitations. Some piano music is said to sound
orchestral. As a matter of fact, a great deal of it would sound better
with the orchestra.

"Real piano music is rare. The piano appears to be too small for some of
our modern Titans among the composers. When they write for the piano
they seem to be exhibiting a concealed longing for the one hundred or
more men of the modern orchestra. One of the reasons why the works of
Debussy appeal to me is that he manages to put so much color into his
piano pieces without suggesting the orchestra. Much of his music is
wonderful in this respect, and, moreover, the musicians of the future
will appreciate this fact more and more.


"No one exercise can be depended upon to meet all the varied conditions
which arise in the practice of the day, but I have frequently employed a
simple exercise which seems to 'coax' the hand into muscular activity in
a very short time. It is so simple that I am diffident about suggesting
it. However, elemental processes lead to large structures sometimes.
The Egyptian pyramids were built ages before the age of steam and
electricity, and scientists are still wondering how those massive stones
were ever put in place.

"The exercise I use most, apart from scales, is really based upon a
principle which is constantly employed in all scale playing and in all
piano playing, that of putting the thumb over and under the fingers. Did
you ever stop to think how continually this is employed? One hardly goes
one step beyond the elemental grades before one encounters it. It
demands a muscular action entirely different from that of pressing down
the keys either with the finger, forearm or arm motion.

"Starting with the above-named principle and devising new exercises to
meet the very human need for variety, I play something like this:


"The next form would employ another fingering--


"The next form might be--


"These I transpose through several keys, for instance--


"Note that I am not giving an arbitrary exercise, but simply suggesting
the plan upon which the student may work. There is a great deal of fun
in devising new exercises. It assists in helping the student to
concentrate. Of course, these exercises are only attempted after all the
standard exercises found in books have been exhausted.


"I often think that teachers make a great mistake by giving too
complicated exercises. A complicated exercise leads away from clear
thinking and concentration. The simple exercise will never seem dull or
dry if the pupil's ambition is right. After all, it is not so much what
is done as how it is done. Give less thought to the material and more to
the correction of the means with which one plays. There should be
unceasing variety in studies. A change at every practice period is
advisable, as it gives the pupil new material for thought. There are
hundreds of different exercises in the different books, and the student
has no reason for suffering for want of variety."




1. Does the technical material of to-day differ greatly from that of
forty or fifty years ago?

2. State something of the efficacy of scales.

3. State three sources of technical material sure to interest the

4. Do celebrated virtuosos use scales regularly?

5. State what else besides technical skill is required in these days to
gain recognition as a virtuoso pianist.

6. Why does Rachmaninoff excel as a composer for pianoforte?

7. State what may be considered the most difficult of piano

8. Wherein does the appeal of Debussy lie?

9. Give some simple exercises suitable for daily practice.

10. Why are too complicated exercises undesirable?

[Illustration: HAROLD BAUER]



Harold Bauer was born in London, England, April 28, 1875. His father was
an accomplished amateur violinist. Through him, the future virtuoso was
enabled to gain an excellent idea of the beautiful literature of chamber
music. When a boy Mr. Bauer studied privately with the celebrated violin
teacher, Politzer. At the age of ten he became so proficient that he
made his _début_ as a violinist in London. Thereafter in his tours of
England he met with great success everywhere.

In the artistic circles of London Mr. Bauer met a musician named Graham
Moore, who gave him some idea upon the details of the technic of
pianoforte playing, which Mr. Bauer had studied or rather "picked up" by
himself, without any thought of ever abandoning his career as a
violinist. Mr. Moore had expected to rehearse some orchestral
accompaniments on a second piano with Paderewski, who was then preparing
some concertos for public performance. Mr. Moore was taken ill and sent
his talented musical friend, Mr. Bauer, in his place. Paderewski
immediately took an interest in his talented accompanist and advised him
to go to Paris to continue his studies with Gorski.

After many privations in Paris Mr. Bauer, unable to secure engagements
as a violinist, went on a tour of Russia as an accompanist of a singer.
In some of the smaller towns Bauer played an occasional piano solo.
Returning to Paris, he found that he was still unable to secure
engagements as a violinist. His pianistic opportunity came when a
celebrated virtuoso who was to play at a concert was taken ill and Bauer
was asked to substitute. He gradually gave more attention to the piano
and rose to a very high position in the tone world.





"While it gives me great pleasure to talk to the great number of
students studying the piano, I can assure you that it is with no little
diffidence that I venture to approach these very subjects about which
they are probably most anxious to learn. In the first place, words tell
very little, and in the second place, my whole career has been so
different from the orthodox methods that I have been constantly
compelled to contrive means of my own to meet the myriads of artistic
contingencies as they have arisen in my work. It is largely for this
reason that I felt compelled recently to refuse a very flattering offer
to write a book on piano playing. My whole life experience makes me
incapable of perceiving what the normal methods of pianistic study
should be. As a result of this I am obliged with my own pupils to invent
continually new means and new plans for work with each student.

"Without the conventional technical basis to work upon, this has
necessarily resulted in several aspects of pianoforte study which are
naturally somewhat different from the commonly accepted ideas of the
technicians. In the first place, the only technical study of any kind I
have ever done has been that technic which has had an immediate relation
to the musical message of the piece I have been studying. In other
words, I have never studied technic independently of music. I do not
condemn the ordinary technical methods for those who desire to use them
and see good in them. I fear, however, that I am unable to discuss them
adequately, as they are outside of my personal experience.


"When, as a result of circumstances entirely beyond my control, I
abandoned the study of the violin in order to become a pianist, I was
forced to realize, in view of my very imperfect technical equipment,
that in order to take advantage of the opportunities that offered for
public performance it would be necessary for me to find some means of
making my playing acceptable without spending months and probably years
in acquiring mechanical proficiency. The only way of overcoming the
difficulty seemed to be to devote myself entirely to the musical
essentials of the composition I was interpreting in the hope that the
purely technical deficiencies which I had neither time nor knowledge to
enable me to correct would pass comparatively unnoticed, provided I was
able to give sufficient interest and compel sufficient attention to the
emotional values of the work. This kind of study, forced upon me in the
first instance through reasons of expediency, became a habit, and
gradually grew into a conviction that it was a mistake to practice
technic at all unless such practice should conduce to some definite,
specific and immediate musical result.

"I do not wish to be misunderstood in making this statement, containing,
as it does, an expression of opinion that was formed in early years of
study, but which, nevertheless, I have never since felt any reason to
change. It is not my intention to imply that technical study is
unnecessary, or that purely muscular training is to be neglected. I mean
simply to say that in every detail of technical work the germ of musical
expression must be discovered and cultivated, and that in muscular
training for force and independence the simplest possible forms of
physical exercises are all that is necessary.

"The singer and the violinist are always studying _music_, even when
they practice a succession of single notes. Not so with the pianist,
however, for an isolated note on the piano, whether played by the most
accomplished artist or the man in the street, means nothing, absolutely


"At the time of which I speak, my greatest difficulty was naturally to
give a constant and definite direction to my work and in my efforts to
obtain a suitable muscular training which should enable me to produce
expressive sounds, while I neglected no opportunity of closely observing
the work of pianoforte teachers and students around me. I found that
most of the technical work which was being done with infinite pains and
a vast expenditure of time was not only non-productive of expressive
sounds, but actually harmful and misleading as regards the development
of the musical sense. I could see no object in practicing evenness in
scales, considering that a perfectly even scale is essentially devoid of
emotional (musical) significance. I could see no reason for limiting
tone production to a certain kind of sound that was called 'a good
tone,' since the expression of feeling necessarily demands in many cases
the use of relatively harsh sounds. Moreover, I could see no reason for
trying to overcome what are generally called natural defects, such as
the comparative weakness of the fourth finger for example, as it seemed
to me rather a good thing than otherwise that each finger should
naturally and normally possess a characteristic motion of its own.

"It is _differences_ that count in art, not similarities. Every
individual expression is a form of art; why not, then, make an artist of
each finger by cultivating its special aptitudes instead of adapting a
system of training deliberately calculated to destroy these individual
characteristics in bringing _all_ the fingers to a common level of
lifeless machines?

"These and similar reflections, I discovered, were carrying me
continually farther away from the ideals of most of the pianists,
students and teachers with whom I was in contact, and it was not long
before I definitely abandoned all hope of obtaining, by any of the means
I found in use, the results for which I was striving. Consequently,
from that time to the present my work has necessarily been more or less
independent and empirical in its nature, and, while I trust I am neither
prejudiced nor intolerant in my attitude towards pianoforte education in
its general aspect, I cannot help feeling that a great deal of natural
taste is stifled and a great deal of mediocrity created by the
persistent and unintelligent study of such things as an 'even scale' or
a 'good tone.'

"Lastly, it is quite incomprehensible to me why any one method of
technic should be superior to any other, considering that as far as I
was able to judge, no teacher or pupil ever claimed more for any
technical system than that it gave more technical ability than some
other technical system. I have never been able to convince myself, as a
matter of fact, that one system does give more ability than another; but
even if there were one infinitely superior to all the rest, it would
still fail to satisfy me unless its whole aim and object were to
facilitate musical expression.

"Naturally, studying in this way required my powers of concentration to
be trained to the very highest point. This matter of concentration is
far more important than most teachers imagine, and the perusal of some
standard work on psychology will reveal things which should help the
student greatly. Many pupils make the mistake of thinking that only a
certain kind of music demands concentration, whereas it is quite as
necessary to concentrate the mind upon the playing of a simple scale as
for the study of a Beethoven sonata.


"In every form of art the medium that is employed offers a certain
resistance to perfect freedom of expression, and the nature of this
resistance must be fully understood before it can be overcome. The poet,
the painter, the sculptor and the musician each has his own problem to
solve, and the pianist in particular is frequently brought to the verge
of despair through the fact that the instrument, in requiring the
expenditure of physical and nervous energy, absorbs, so to speak, a
large proportion of the intensity which the music demands.

"With many students the piano is only a barrier--a wall between them and
music. Their thoughts never seem to penetrate farther than the keys.
They plod along for years apparently striving to make piano-playing
machines of themselves, and in the end result in becoming something
rather inferior.

"Conditions are doubtless better now than in former years. Teachers give
studies with some musical value, and the months, even years, of keyboard
grind without the least suggestion of anything musical or gratifying to
the natural sense of the beautiful are very probably a thing of the
past. But here again I fear the teachers in many cases make a perverted
use of studies and pieces for technical purposes. If we practice a piece
of real music with no other idea than that of developing some technical
point it often ceases to become a piece of music and results in being a
kind of technical machinery. Once a piece is mechanical it is difficult
to make it otherwise. All the cogs, wheels, bolts and screws which an
overzealous ambition to become perfect technically has built up are made
so evident that only the most patient and enduring kind of an audience
can tolerate them.


"People talk about 'using the music of Bach' to accomplish some
technical purpose in a perfectly heart-breaking manner. They never seem
to think of interpreting Bach, but, rather, make of him a kind of
technical elevator by means of which they hope to reach some marvelous
musical heights. We even hear of the studies of Chopin being perverted
in a similarly vicious manner, but Bach, the master of masters, is the
greatest sufferer.

"It has become a truism to say that technic is only a means to an end,
but I very much doubt if this assertion should be accepted without
question, suggesting as it does the advisability of studying something
that is not music and which is believed at some future time to be
capable of being marvelously transformed into an artistic expression.
Properly understood, _technic is art_, and must be studied as such.
There should be no technic in music which is not music _in itself_.


"The piano is, of all instruments, the least expressive naturally, and
it is of the greatest importance that the student should realize the
nature of its resistance. The action of a piano is purely a piece of
machinery where the individual note has no meaning. When the key is once
struck and the note sounded there is a completed action and the note
cannot then be modified nor changed in the least. The only thing over
which the pianist has any control is the length of the tone, and this
again may not last any longer than the natural vibrations of the
strings, although it may be shortened by relinquishing the keys. It
makes no difference whether the individual note is struck by a child or
by Paderewski--it has in itself no expressive value. In the case of the
violin, the voice and all other instruments except the organ, the
individual note may be modified after it is emitted or struck, and in
this modification is contained the possibility of a whole world of
emotional expression.

"Our sole means of expression, then, in piano playing lies in the
relation of one note to the other notes in a series or in a chord.
Herein lies the difficulty, the resistance to perfect freedom of which I
have spoken before, the principal subject for intelligence and careful
study, and yet so few students appear to understand it. Their great
effort seems to be to make all the noise in a given series as much alike
as coins from a mint. They come to the piano as their only instrument,
and never seek to take a lesson from the voice or from the other
instruments which have expressive resources infinitely superior to those
possessed by the piano. The principal charm of the piano lies in the
command which the player has over many voices singing together. But
until the pianist has a regard for the individual voice in its relation
to the ensemble he has no means with which to make his work really

"There is a great need for more breadth in music study. This, as I know,
has been said very often, but it does not hurt to say it again. The more
a man knows, the more he has experienced, the wider his mental vision in
all branches of human information, the more he will have to say. We need
men in music with big minds, wide grasp and definite aims. Musicians are
far too prone to become overspecialized. They seem to have an
unquenchable thirst to master the jargon and the infinite variety of
methods which are thrust upon us in these days rather than a genuine
desire to develop their musical aims. Music is acquiring a technology as
confusing and as extensive as bacteriology. There seems to be no end to
the new kinds of methods in the minds of furtive and fertile inventors.
Each new method in turn seems to breed another, and so on _ad nauseam_.

"Among other things I would suggest the advisability for pianists to
cultivate some knowledge of the construction of their instrument.
Strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless a fact that the average
pianist knows practically nothing of a piano, being in many cases
entirely unaware of such simple things as how the tone is produced. The
function of the pedals is as unknown to them as geology is to the coal
heaver. This ignorance leads frequently to the employment of motions and
methods that can only be characterized as ridiculous in the extreme.


"From the manner in which many ambitious and earnest students play, it
would seem that they had their minds fixed upon something which could
not be conveyed to the world in any other form than that of the sounds
which come from the piano. Of course, the piano has an idiom peculiarly
its own, and some composers have employed this idiom with such natural
freedom that their music suffers when transposed for any other
instrument. The music of Chopin is peculiarly pianistic, but it is,
first of all, music, and any one of the wonderful melodies which came
from the fertile brain of the Polish-French genius could be played upon
one of many different instruments besides the piano. The duty of the
interpreter should surely be to think of the composition as such, and to
interpret it primarily as music, irrespective of the instrument. Some
students sit down before the keyboard to 'play' the piano precisely as
though they were going to play a game of cards. They have learned
certain rules governing the game, and they do not dare disobey these
rules. They think of rules rather than of the ultimate result--the
music itself. The idiom of the Italian language is appropriate here. The
Italians do not say 'I play the piano,' but rather 'I sound the piano.'
(_Suono il pianoforte._) If we had a little more 'sounding' of the
piano, that is, producing real musical effects, and a little less
playing on ivory keys, the playing of our students would be more


"It can hardly be questioned that the genesis of all musical art is to
be found in song, the most natural, the most fluent and the most
beautiful form of musical expression. How much every instrumentalist can
learn from the art of singing!

"It is a physical impossibility for the voice to produce two notes in
succession exactly alike. They may sound very similar, but there is a
difference quite perceptible to the highly trained ear. When a singer
starts a phrase a certain amount of motive power is required to set the
vocal apparatus in vibration. After the first note has been attacked
with the full force of the breath, there is naturally not so much weight
or pressure left for the following notes. It is, however, possible for
the second note to be as loud, or even louder, than the first note. But
in order to obtain the additional force on the second note, it is
necessary to compensate for the lack of force due to the loss of the
original weight or pressure by increasing what might be called the
nervous energy; that is to say, by expelling the breath with
proportionately greater speed.


"The manifestation of nervous energy in this manner is quite different
from the manifestation of muscular energy, although both are, of course,
intimately connected. Muscular energy begins at its maximum and
gradually diminishes to the point of exhaustion, whereas nervous energy
rises in an inconceivably short space of time to its climax, and then
drops immediately to nothing. Nervous energy may be said to be
represented by an increased rapidity of emission. It is what the athlete
would call a 'spurt.'

"What I have said about the voice applies equally to all other
instruments, the piano and the organ alone excepted. It is obvious that
the playing of the wind instruments must be subjected to the limitations
of the breath, and in the case of the violin and the other stringed
instruments, where the bow supplies the motive power, it is impossible
for two notes played in succession to sound absolutely alike. If the
first note of a phrase is attacked with the weight of the whole bow
behind it, the second note will follow with just so much less weight,
and if the violinist desires to intensify any of the succeeding tones,
he must do so by the employment of the nervous energy I have mentioned,
when a difference in the quality of tone is bound to result. The pianist
should closely observe and endeavor to imitate these characteristics,
which so vividly convey the idea of organic life in all its infinite
variety, and which are inherent in every medium for artistic expression.


"It would take a book, and by no means a small one, to go into this
matter of phrasing which I am now discussing. Even in such a book there
would doubtless be many points which would be open to assaults for
sticklers in psychological technology. I am not issuing a propaganda or
writing a thesis for the purpose of having something to defend, but
merely giving a few offhand facts that have benefited me in my work.
However, it is my conviction that it is the duty of the pianist to try
to understand the analogy to the physical limitations which surround the
more natural mediums of musical expression--the voice and the
violin--and to apply the result of his observations to his piano


"There is another relation between phrasing and breathing which the
student may investigate to advantage. The emotions have a direct and
immediate effect upon the breath, and as the brain informs the nervous
system of new emotional impressions the visible evidences may be first
observed in the breathing. It is quite unnecessary to go into the
physiology or psychology of this, but a little reflection will
immediately indicate what I mean.

"It is impossible to witness a disastrous accident without showing
mental agitation and excitement in hurried breathing. Joy, anger, fear,
love, tranquillity and grief--all are characterized by different modes
of breathing, and a trained actor must study this with great closeness.

"The artist at the piano may be said to breathe his phrases. A phrase
that is purely contemplative in character is breathed in a tranquil
fashion without any suggestion of nervous agitation. If we go through
the scale of expression, starting with contemplative tranquillity, to
the climax of dramatic intensity, the breath will be emitted
progressively quicker and quicker. Every musical phrase has some kind of
expressive message to deliver. If a perfectly tranquil phrase is given
out in a succession of short breaths, indicating, as they would,
agitation, it would be a contradiction, just as it would be perfectly
inhuman to suppose that in expressing dramatic intensity it would be
possible to breathe slowly.

"In conclusion, I would urge students to cultivate a very definite
mental attitude as to what they really desire to accomplish. Do you wish
to make music? If so, _think_ music, and nothing but music, all the
time, down to the smallest detail even in technic. Is your ambition to
play scales, octaves, double notes and trills? Then by all means
concentrate your mind on them to the exclusion of everything else, but
do not be surprised if, when, later on, you want to communicate a
semblance of life to your mechanical motions, you succeed in obtaining
no more than the jerky movements of a clock-work puppet."




1. What is the nature of the technical study done by Harold Bauer?

2. Should immediate musical results be sought in technical study?

3. Upon what principle is expression in art based?

4. Is the utmost concentration necessary in all piano playing?

5. How may the piano become a barrier between the student and musical

6. In what spirit should all studies be played?

7. Is the piano an expressive instrument?

8. Should pianists acquire a knowledge of the main feature in the
construction of their instrument?

9. How may variety in piano playing be achieved?

10. How is phrasing related to breathing?




Mrs. Fanny Bloomfield-Zeisler was born at Beilitz, Austrian Silesia,
July 16, 1866. Two years later her parents took her to Chicago. Her
first teachers in Chicago were Bernhard Ziehn and Carl Wolfsohn. At the
age of ten she made a profound impression at a public concert in
Chicago. Two years later she had the good fortune to meet Mme. Essipoff,
who advised her to go to Vienna to study with Theodore Leschetizky.
Accordingly she was taken to the Austrian capital and remained under the
instruction of the noted pedagogue for five years. Starting with the
year 1883, she commenced a series of annual recitals and concerts in
different American cities which made her very famous. In 1893 she toured
Europe, attracting even more attention than in the homeland. Since then
she made several tours of Europe and America, arousing great enthusiasm
wherever she appeared. Her emotional force, her personal magnetism and
her keen processes of analysis compelled critics everywhere to rank her
with the foremost pianists of the day.




"The secret of success in the career of a virtuoso is not easily
defined. Many elements have to be considered. Given great talent,
success is not by any means assured. Many seemingly extraneous qualities
must be cultivated; many mistakes must be avoided.

"Let me start out with a caution. No greater mistake could possibly be
made than to assume that frequent public appearances or extended concert
touring in early youth is essential to a great career as a virtuoso. On
the contrary, I would say that such a course is positively harmful. The
'experience' of frequent playing in public is essential if one would get
rid of stage fright or undue nervousness and would gain that repose and
self-confidence without which success is impossible. But such experience
should be had only after the attainment of physical and mental maturity.
A young boy or girl, though ever so much of a prodigy, if taken on an
extensive concert tour, not only becomes unduly self-conscious,
conceited, vain and easily satisfied with his or her work, but--and this
is the all-important point--runs the risk of undermining his or her
health. The precious days of youth should be devoted primarily to the
storing up of health, without which lasting success is impossible.
Nothing is more harmful to sound physical development and mental growth
than the strain of extensive tours. It is true that one great virtuoso
now before the public played frequently before large audiences as an
infant prodigy. But, happily, wise and efficient influences served to
check this mad career. The young artist was placed in the hands of a
great teacher and given a chance to reach full physical maturity and
artistic stature before resuming public appearances. Had it been
otherwise, it is a matter of common belief that this great talent would
have fizzled out.

"By this I do not mean that the pupil should be prevented from playing
at recitals in the home city. Playing of this kind gives the pupil
confidence and smooths the way for his work as a mature artist. These
performances should be rare, except in the case of performances given in
the home of the pupil or at the teacher's home. What I object to is the
exploitation on a large scale of the infant prodigy.


"One of the real secrets of success in public appearance is thorough
preparation. In fact there is no talisman, no secret that one can pass
over to another and say, 'Here is my secret, go thou and do likewise.'
What a valuable secret it would be--the mysterious secret processes of
the Krupp Gun Works in Germany would be trifling in comparison. Genuine
worth is, after all, the great essential, and thorough preparation leads
to genuine worth. For instance, I have long felt that the mental technic
that the study of Bach's inventions and fugues afford could not be
supplied by any other means. The peculiar polyphonic character of these
works trains the mind to recognize the separate themes so ingeniously
and beautifully interwoven and at the same time the fingers receive a
kind of discipline which hardly any other study can secure.

"The layman can hardly conceive how difficult it is to play at the same
time two themes different in character and running in opposite
directions. The student fully realizes this difficulty when he finds
that it takes years to master it. These separate themes must be
individualized; they must be conceived as separate, but their bearing
upon the work as a whole must never be overlooked.

"The purity of style to be found in Bach, in connection with his
marvelous contrapuntal designs, should be expounded to the student at as
early an age as his intellectual development will permit. It may take
some time to create a taste for Bach, but the teacher will be rewarded
with results so substantial and permanent that all the trouble and time
will seem well worth while.

"There is also a refining influence about which I would like to speak.
The practice of Bach seems to fairly grind off the rough edges, and
instead of a raw, bungling technic the student acquires a kind of
finish from the study of the old master of Eisenach that nothing else
can give him.

"I do not mean to be understood that the study of Bach, even if it be
ever so thorough, suffices in itself to give one a perfect technic.
Vastly more is necessary. The student who would fit himself for a
concert career must have the advice of a great teacher and must work
incessantly and conscientiously under his guidance. I emphasize the
study of Bach merely because I find it is not pursued as much as it
deserves. That technical finish is of the very essence of success in
public appearance, goes without saying. It is not only indispensable for
a creditable performance, but the consciousness of possessing it
contributes to that confidence of the player without which he cannot
hope to make an impression upon his audience.


"Speaking about teachers reminds me to put forth this caution: Do not
pin your faith to a method. There is good and, alas! some bad in most
methods. We hear a great deal these days about the Leschetizky method.
During the five years I was with Leschetizky, he made it very plain that
he had no fixed method in the ordinary sense of the word. Like every
good teacher, he studied the individuality of each pupil and taught him
according to that individuality. It might almost be said that he had a
different method for each pupil, and I have often said that
Leschetizky's method is to have no fixed method. Of course, there are
certain preparatory exercises which with slight variations he wants all
his pupils to go through. But it is not so much the exercises in
themselves as the patience and painful persistence in executing them to
which they owe their virtue. Of course, Leschetizky has his preference
for certain works for their great educational value. He has his
convictions as to the true interpretation to be given to the various
compositions, but those do not form what may properly be called a
method. Personally, I am rather skeptical when anybody announces that he
teaches any particular method. Leschetizky, without any particular
method, is a great force by virtue of his tremendously interesting
personality and his great qualities as an artist. He is himself a
never-ending source of inspiration. At eighty he was still a youth, full
of vitality and enthusiasm. Some student, diffident but worthy, was
always encouraged; another was incited by sarcasm; still another was
scolded outright. Practical illustration on the piano, showing 'how not
to do it,' telling of pertinent stories to elucidate a point, are among
the means which he constantly employed to bring out the best that was in
his pupils. A good teacher cannot insure success and Leschetizky has
naturally had many pupils who will never become great virtuosos. It was
never in the pupils and, no matter how great the teacher, he cannot
create talent that does not exist.

"The many books published upon the Leschetizky system by his assistants
have merit, but they by no means constitute a Leschetizky system. They
simply give some very rational preparatory exercise that the assistants
give in preparing pupils for the master. Leschetizky himself laughs when
one speaks of his 'method' or 'system.'

"Success in public appearance will never come through any system or
method except that which works toward the end of making a mature and
genuine artist.


"Skill in the arrangement of an artist's programs has much to do with
his success. This matter has two distinct aspects. Firstly, the program
must _look_ attractive, and secondly, it must _sound_ well in the
rendition. When I say the program must look attractive, I mean that it
must contain works which interest concert-goers. It should be neither
entirely conventional, nor should it contain novelties exclusively. The
classics should be represented, because the large army of students
expect to be especially benefited by hearing these performed by a great
artist. Novelties must be placed on the program to make it attractive to
the maturer habitués of the concert room.

"But more important, to my mind, is the other aspect of program making
which I have mentioned. There must be contrasts in the character and
tonal nature of the compositions played. They must be so grouped that
the interest of the hearers will be not only sustained to the end, but
will gradually increase. It goes without saying that each composition
should have merit and worth as musical literature. But beyond that,
there should be variety in the character of the different compositions:
the classic, the romantic, and the modern compositions should all be
given representation. To play several slow movements or several
vivacious movements in succession would tend to tire the listener.
Anti-climaxes should be avoided.

"It may truly be said that program making is in itself a high art. It is
difficult to give advice on this subject by any general statement.
Generalizations are too often misleading. I would advise the young
artist to study carefully the programs of the most successful artists
and to attempt to discover the principle underlying their arrangement.

"One thing which should never be forgotten is that the object of a
concert is not merely to show off the skill of the performer, but to
instruct, entertain and elevate the audience. The bulk of the program
should be composed of standard works, but novelties of genuine worth
should be given a place on the program.


"The player's personality is of inestimable importance in winning the
approval of the public. I do not refer particularly to personal beauty,
although it cannot be doubted that a pleasing appearance is helpful in
conquering an audience. What I mean is sincerity, individuality,
temperament. What we vaguely describe as magnetism is often possessed by
players who can lay no particular claim to personal beauty. Some players
seem fairly to hypnotize their audiences--yes, hypnotize them. This is
not done by practicing any species of black art, or by consciously
following any psychological formula, but by the sheer intensity of
feeling of the artist at the moment of performance.

"The great performer in such moments of passion forgets himself
entirely. He is in a sort of artistic trance. Technical mastery of the
composition being presupposed, the artist need not and does not give
thought to the matter of playing the notes correctly, but, re-creating
in himself what he feels to have been the mood of the composer,
re-creates the composition itself. It is this kind of playing which
establishes an invisible cord, connecting the player's and the hearers'
hearts, and, swayed himself by the feelings of the moment, he sways his
audience. He makes the music he draws from the instrument supreme in
every soul in the audience; his feeling and passion are contagious and
carry the audience away. These are the moments, not only of the greatest
triumph, but of the greatest exultation for the artist. He who cannot
thus sway audiences will never rise above mediocrity.


"To those who are still in the preparatory stage of development I am
glad to give one word of advice. _Do not play pieces that are away
beyond your grasp._ This is the greatest fault in our American musical
educational systems of to-day. Pupils are permitted to play works that
are technically impossible for them to hope to execute without years of
preparation. What a huge blunder this is!

"The pupil comes to the teacher, let us say, with the _Second Hungarian
Rhapsody_ of Liszt. It takes some fortitude for the conscientious
teacher to tell the pupil that she should work with the _C Major Sonata_
of Haydn instead. The pupil, with a kind of confidence that is, to say
the least, dangerous, imagines that the teacher is trying to keep her
back, and often goes to another teacher who will gratify her whim.

"American girls think that they can do everything. Nothing is beyond
them. This is a country of great accomplishment, and they do not realize
that in music 'Art is long.' The virtuoso comes to a great metropolis
and plays a Moszkowski concerto of great difficulty. The next day the
music stores exhaust their stocks of this work, and a dozen misses, who
might with difficulty play a Mendelssohn _Song With Words_, are buried
in the avalanche of technical impossibilities that the alluring concerto


"Unfortunately, a foreign _début_ seems to be necessary for the artist
who would court the favor of the American public. Foreign pianists get
engagements long before their managers in America ever hear them. In the
present state of affairs, if an American pianist were to have the
ability of three Liszts and three Rubinsteins in one person, he could
only hope for meager reward if he did not have a great European
reputation behind him.

"The condition is absurd and regrettable, but nevertheless true. We have
many splendid teachers in America--as fine as there are in the world.

"We have in our larger cities musical audiences whose judgment is as
discriminating as that of the best European audiences. Many an artist
with a great European reputation has come to this country, and, failing
'to make good' in the judgment of our critics and audiences, went back
with his reputation seriously impaired. Nevertheless, as I have stated,
the American artist without a European reputation, has no drawing power
and therefore does not interest the managers and the piano
manufacturers, who nowadays have largely supplanted the managers. This
being so, I can only advise the American artist to do as others had to
do. Go to Europe; give a few concerts in Berlin, London, Vienna or
Paris. Let the concert director who arranges your concerts paper the
house, but be sure you get a few critics in the audience. Have your
criticisms translated, and get them republished in American papers.
Then, if you have real merit, you may get a chance.

"The interest in music in the United States at the present time is
phenomenal. European peoples have no conception of it. Nowhere in the
world can such interest be found. Audiences in different parts of the
country do not differ very greatly from the standpoint of intelligent
appreciation. When we consider the great uncultured masses of peasants
in Europe and the conditions of our own farmers, especially in the West,
there is no basis of comparison. America is already a musical country, a
very musical country. It is only in its failure to properly support
native musicians that we are subject to criticism.


"To the young man or woman who would learn 'The Secret of Public
Appearance' I would say:

"1. Look deeply into your natural qualifications. Use every morsel of
judgment you possess to endeavor to determine whether you are talented
or simply 'clever' at music. Court the advice of unbiased professional
musicians and meditate upon the difficulties leading to a successful
career, and do not decide to add one more musician to the world until
you are confident of your suitability for the work. Remember that this
moment of decision is a very important time and that you may be upon the
threshold of a dangerous mistake. Remember that there are thousands of
successful and happy teachers for one successful virtuoso.

"2. After you have determined to undertake the career of the concert
performer let nothing stand in the way of study, except the
consideration of your health. Success with a broken-down body and a
shattered mind is a worthless conquest. Remember that if you wish a
permanent position you must be thoroughly trained in all branches of
your art.

"3. Avoid charlatanism and the kind of advertisement that will bring you
notoriety at the sacrifice of your self-respect and the respect of your
best friends. Remember that real worth is, after all, the thing that
brings enduring fame.

"4. Study the public. Seek to find out what pleases it, but never lower
the standards of your art. Read the best literature. Study pictures.
Travel. Broaden your mind. Acquire general culture.

"5. Be careful of your stage deportment. Endeavor to do nothing at the
keyboard that will emphasize any personal eccentricity. Always be
sincere and true to your own nature, but within these limits try to make
a pleasing impression.

"6. Always be your own severest critic. Be not easily satisfied with
yourself. Hitch your wagon to a star. Let your standard of perfection be
the very highest. Always strive to reach that standard. Never play in
public a piece that you have not thoroughly mastered. There is nothing
more valuable than public confidence. Once secured, it is the greatest
asset an artist can possess.

"I have repeatedly been asked to give ten rules for practice.

"It is not possible to formulate ten all-comprehensive rules that could
be applied in every case, but the following suggestions will be found
valuable to many students:

"1. Concentrate during every second of your practice. To concentrate
means to bring all your thinking powers to bear upon one central point
with the greatest possible intensity. Without such concentration nothing
can be accomplished during the practice period. One hour of concentrated
thinking is worth weeks of thoughtless practice. It is safe to say that
years are being wasted by students in this country who fail to get the
most out of their practice because they do not know how to concentrate.
A famous thinker has said: 'The evidence of superior genius is the power
of intellectual concentration.'

"2. Divide your practice time into periods of not more than two hours.
You will find it impossible to concentrate properly if you attempt to
practice more than two hours at a time. Do not have an arbitrary program
of practice work, for this course is liable to make your work
monotonous. For one who practices four hours (and that is enough for
almost any student), one hour for purely technical work, one hour for
Bach, and two hours for pieces is to be recommended.

"3. In commencing your practice, play over your piece once or twice
before beginning to memorize. Then, after working through the entire
composition, pick out the more difficult passages for special attention
and reiteration.

"4. Always practice slowly at first. This is simply another way of
telling the pupil to concentrate. Even after you have played your piece
at the required speed and with reasonable confidence that it is correct,
never fail to go back now and then and play it at the speed at which you
learned it. This is a practice which many virtuosos follow. Pieces that
they have played time and time again before enthusiastic audiences are
re-studied by playing them very slowly. This is the only real way to
undo mistakes that are bound to creep into one's performance when pieces
are constantly played in a rapid tempo.

"5. Do not attempt to practice your whole piece at first. Take a small
section or even a phrase. If you take a longer section than say sixteen
bars, you will find it difficult to avoid mistakes. Of course, when the
piece is mastered you should have all these sections so unified that you
can play the entire composition smoothly and without a break.

"6. First memorize _mentally_ the section you have selected for study,
and then practice it. If you do not know it well enough to practice it
from memory, you have not grasped its musical content, but are playing

"7. Occasionally memorize backwards, that is, take the last few measures
and learn them thoroughly, then take the preceding measures and
continue in this way until the whole is mastered. Even after you have
played the piece many times, this process often compels a concentration
that is beneficial.

"8. When studying, remember that practice is simply a means of
cultivating habits. If you play correctly from the start you will form
good habits; if you play carelessly and faultily your playing will grow
continually worse. Consequently, play so slowly and correctly from the
start that you may insure the right fingering, phrasing, tone, touch
(staccato, legato, portamento, etc.), pedaling and dynamic effects. If
you postpone the attainment of any of these qualities to a later date
they are much more difficult to acquire.

"9. Always listen while you are playing. Music is intended to be heard.
If you do not listen to your own playing it is very probable that other
people will not care to listen to it either.

"10. Never attempt to play anything in public that you have just
finished studying. When you are through working upon a piece, put it
away to be musically digested, then after some time repeat the same
process, and again the third time, when your piece will, have become a
part of yourself."




1. How should the public appearances of talented children be controlled?

2. What is the best material for the development of a mental technic?

3. Should one pin one's faith to any one method?

4. What combines to make a program attractive?

5. What should be artist's main object in giving a concert?

6. What part does personality play in the performer's success?

7. What is one of the greatest faults in musical educational work in

8. How should practice time be divided?

9. May one memorize "backwards"?

10. Why should one listen while playing?



Ferruccio Benvenuto Busoni was born at Empoli, near Florence, Italy,
April 1, 1866. His father was a clarinetist and his mother whose maiden
name was Weiss, indicating her German ancestry was an excellent pianist.
His first teachers were his parents. So pronounced was his talent that
he made his début at the age of eight in Vienna, Austria. He then
studied in the Austrian city of Graz with W. A. Remy, whose right name
was Dr. Wilhelm Mayer. This able teacher aside from being a learned
jurist was also devoted to music and had among his other pupils no less
a person than Felix Weingartner.

In 1881 Busoni toured Italy and was made a member of the Reale Accademia
Filharmonica at Bologna. In 1886 he went to reside at Leipsic. Two years
later he became teacher of pianoforte at the Helsingfors Conservatory in
the Finnish capital. In 1890 he captured the famous Rubinstein prizes
for both pianoforte and composition. In the same year he became
Professor of pianoforte playing at the Moscow Imperial Conservatory. The
next year he accepted a similar position in the New England Conservatory
at Boston,--returning to Europe for another tour in 1893. After many
successful tours he accepted the position of director of the
Meisterschule at the Imperial Conservatory in Vienna. His compositions
include over one hundred published opus numbers, the most pretentious
probably being his _Choral Concerto_. His editions of Bach are
masterpieces of technical and artistic erudition.

(The following Conference was conducted in English.)

[Illustration: FERRUCCIO B. BUSONI]





"Some years ago I met a very famous artist whose celebrity rested upon
the wonderful colored glass windows that he had produced. He was
considered by most of his contemporaries the greatest of all makers of
high-art windows. His fame had extended throughout the artistic circles
of all Europe. A little remark he made to me illustrates the importance
of detail better than anything of which I can think at present.

"He said, 'If a truly great work of art in the form of a stained glass
window should be accidentally shattered to little bits, one should be
able to estimate the greatness of the whole window by examining one of
the fragments even though all the other pieces were missing.'

"In fine piano playing all of the details are important. I do not mean
to say that if one were in another room that one could invariably tell
the ability of an artist by hearing him strike one note, but if the note
is heard in relation to the other notes in a composition, its
proportionate value should be so delicately and artistically estimated
by the highly trained performer, that it forms part of the artistic

"For instance, it is quite easy to conceive of compositions demanding a
very smooth running performance in which one jarring or harsh note
indicating faulty artistic calculation upon the part of the player would
ruin the entire interpretation. As examples of this one might cite the
Bach _Choral Vorspiel_, _Nun Freut euch_, of which I have made an
arrangement, and such a composition as the Chopin Prelude Opus 28, No.
3, with its running accompaniment in the left hand.

"It is often perfection in little things which distinguishes the
performance of the great pianist from that of the novice. The novice
usually manages to get the so-called main points, but he does not work
for the little niceties of interpretation which are almost invariably
the defining characteristic of the interpretations of the real
artist--that is, the performer who has formed the habit of stopping at
nothing short of his highest ideal of perfection.


"There is a detail which few students observe which is of such vast
importance that one is tempted to say that the main part of successful
musical progress depends upon it. This is the detail of learning to
listen. Every sound that is produced during the practice period should
be heard. That is, it should be heard with ears open to give that sound
the intelligent analysis which it deserves.

"Anyone who has observed closely and taught extensively must have
noticed that hours and hours are wasted by students strumming away on
keyboards and giving no more attention to the sounds they produce than
would the inmates of a deaf and dumb asylum. These students all expect
to become fine performers even though they may not aim to become
virtuosos. To them the piano keyboard is a kind of gymnasium attached to
a musical instrument. They may of course acquire strong fingers, but
they will have to learn to listen before they can hope to become even
passable performers.

"At my own recitals no one in the audience listens more attentively than
I do. I strive to hear every note and while I am playing my attention is
so concentrated upon the one purpose of delivering the work in the most
artistic manner dictated by the composer's demands and my conception of
the piece, that I am little conscious of anything else. I have also
learned that I must continually have my mind alert to opportunities for
improvement. I am always in quest of new beauties and even while playing
in public it is possible to conceive of new details that come like

"The artist who has reached the period when he fails to be on the
outlook for details of this kind and is convinced that in no possible
way could his performances be improved, has reached a very dangerous
stage of artistic stagnation which will result in the ruin of his
career. There is always room for improvement, that is the development of
new details, and it is this which gives zest and intellectual interest
to the work of the artist. Without it his public efforts would become
very tame and unattractive.


"In my own development as an artist it has been made evident to me, time
and time again, that success comes from the careful observance of
details. All students should strive to estimate their own artistic
ability very accurately. A wrong estimate always leads to a dangerous
condition. If I had failed to attend to certain details many years ago,
I would have stopped very far short of anything like success.

"I remember that when I concluded my term as professor of piano at the
New England Conservatory of Music I was very conscious of certain
deficiencies in my style. Notwithstanding the fact that I had been
accepted as a virtuoso in Europe and in America and had toured with
great orchestras such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I knew better
than anyone else that there were certain details in my playing that I
could not afford to neglect.

"For instance, I knew that my method of playing the trill could be
greatly improved and I also knew that I lacked force and endurance in
certain passages. Fortunately, although a comparatively young man, I was
not deceived by the flattery of well-meaning, but incapable critics, who
were quite willing to convince me that my playing was as perfect as it
was possible to make it. Every seeker of artistic truth is more widely
awake to his own deficiencies than any of his critics could possibly be.

"In order to rectify the details I have mentioned as well as some I have
not mentioned, I have come to the conclusion that I must devise an
entirely new technical system. Technical systems are best when they are
individual. Speaking theoretically, every individual needs a different
technical system. Every hand, every arm, every set of ten fingers, every
body and, what is of greatest importance, every intellect is different
from every other. I consequently endeavored to get down to the basic
laws underlying the subject of technic and make a system of my own.

"After much study, I discovered what I believed to be the technical
cause of my defects and then I returned to Europe and for two years I
devoted myself almost exclusively to technical study along the
individual lines I had devised. To my great delight details that had
always defied me, the rebellious trills, the faltering bravura passages,
the uneven runs, all came into beautiful submission and with them came a
new delight in playing.


"I trust that my experience will set some ambitious piano students to
thinking and that they may be benefited by it. There is always a way of
correcting deficiencies if the way can only be found. The first thing,
however, is to recognize the detail itself and then to realize that
instead of being a detail it is a matter of vast importance until it has
been conquered and brought into submission. In playing, always note
where your difficulties seem to lie. Then, when advisable, isolate those
difficulties and practice them separately. This is the manner in which
all good technical exercises are devised.

"Your own difficulty is the difficulty which you should practice most.
Why waste time in practicing passages which you can play perfectly well?
One player may have difficulty in playing trills, while to another
player of equal general musical ability trills may be perfectly easy. In
playing arpeggios, however, the difficulties which prove obstacles to
the players may be entirely reversed. The one who could play the trill
perfectly might not be able, under any circumstance, to play an arpeggio
with the requisite smoothness and true legato demanded, while the
student who found the trill impossible possesses the ability to run
arpeggios and cadenzas with the fluency of a forest rivulet.

"All technical exercises must be given to the pupil with great
discretion and judgment just as poisonous medicines must be administered
to the patient with great care. The indiscriminate giving of technical
exercises may impede progress rather than advance the pupil. Simply
because an exercise happens to come in a certain position in a book of
technical exercises is no reason why the particular pupil being taught
needs that exercise at that particular time. Some exercises which are
not feasible and others which are inexpedient at a certain time, may
prove invaluable later in the pupil's progress.

"Take the famous Tausig exercises, for instance. Tausig was a master of
technic who had few, if any, equals in his time. His exercises are for
the most part very ingenious and useful to advanced players, but when
some of them are transposed into other keys as their composer demands
they become practically impossible to play with the proper touch, etc.
Furthermore, one would be very unlikely to find a passage demanding such
a technical feat in the compositions of any of the great masters of the
piano. Consequently, such exercises are of no practical value and would
only be demanded by a teacher with more respect for tradition than
common sense.


"Some students look upon phrasing as a detail that can be postponed
until other supposedly more important things are accomplished. The very
musical meaning of any composition depends upon the correct
understanding and delivery of the phrases which make that composition.
To neglect the phrases would be about as sensible as it would be for the
great actor to neglect the proper thought division in the interpretation
of his lines. The greatest masterpiece of dramatic literature whether it
be _Romeo and Juliet_, _Antigone_, _La Malade Imaginaire_ or _The Doll's
House_ becomes nonsense if the thought divisions indicated by the
verbal phrases are not carefully determined and expressed.

"Great actors spend hours and hours seeking for the best method of
expressing the author's meaning. No pianist of ability would think of
giving less careful attention to phrasing. How stupid it would be for
the actor to add a word that concluded one sentence to the beginning of
the next sentence. How erroneous then is it for the pupil to add the
last note of one phrase to the beginning of the next phrase. Phrasing is
anything but a detail.

"Fine phrasing depends first upon a knowledge of music which enables one
to define the limitations of the phrase and then upon a knowledge of
pianoforte playing which enables one to execute it properly. Phrasing is
closely allied to the subject of accentuation and both subjects are
intimately connected with that of fingering. Without the proper fingers
it is often impossible to execute certain phrases correctly. Generally,
the accents are considered of importance because they are supposed to
fall in certain set parts of given measures, thus indicating the meter.

"In instructing very young pupils it may be necessary to lead them to
believe that the time must be marked in a definite manner by such
accents, but as the pupil advances he must understand that the measure
divisions are inserted principally for the purpose of enabling him to
read easily. He should learn to look upon each piece of music as a
beautiful tapestry in which the main consideration is the principal
design of the work as a whole and not the invisible marking threads
which the manufacturer is obliged to put in the loom in order to have a
structure upon which the tapestry may be woven.


"In the study of the subject of accentuation and phrasing it would not
be possible for anyone to recommend anything more instructive than the
works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The immortal Thüringian composer was the
master-weaver of all. His tapestries have never been equalled in
refinement, color, breadth and general beauty. Why is Bach so valuable
for the student? This is an easy question to answer. It is because his
works are so constructed that they compel one to study these details.
Even if the student has only mastered the intricacies of the _Two Voice
Inventions_, it is safe to say that he has become a better player. More
than this, Bach forces the student to think.

"If the student has never thought before during his practice periods, he
will soon find that it is quite impossible for him to encompass the
difficulties of Bach without the closest mental application. In fact, he
may also discover that it is possible for him to work out some of his
musical problems while away from the keyboard. Many of the most
perplexing musical questions and difficulties that have ever confronted
me have been solved mentally while I have been walking upon the street
or lying in bed at night.

"Sometimes the solution of difficult details comes in the twinkling of
an eye. I remember that when I was a very young man I was engaged to
play a concerto with a large symphony orchestra. One part of the
concerto had always troubled me, and I was somewhat apprehensive about
it. During one of the pauses, while the orchestra was playing, the
correct interpretation came to me like a flash. I waited until the
orchestra was playing very loud and made an opportunity to run over the
difficult passage. Of course, my playing could not be heard under the
_tutti_ of the orchestra, and when the time came for the proper delivery
of the passage it was vastly better than it would have been otherwise.

"I never neglect an opportunity to improve, no matter how perfect a
previous interpretation may have seemed to me. In fact, I often go
directly home from the concert and practice for hours upon the very
pieces that I have been playing, because during the concert certain new
ideas have come to me. These ideas are very precious, and to neglect
them or to consider them details to be postponed for future development
would be ridiculous in the extreme."




1. What is it which distinguishes the performance of the great pianist
from that of the novice?

2. Upon what detail of interpretation does musical performance most

3. Should the student continually estimate his own ability?

4. Which difficulty should you practice most?

5. What was the principle which made the Tausig exercises valuable?

6. Upon what does fine phrasing depend?

7. Why is it that the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach are so
useful in piano study?

8. How may complex musical problems be solved mentally?

9. Is it advisable to isolate difficulties and practice them separately?

10. How should one seize opportunities to improve?



Teresa Carreño was born at Caracas, Venezuela, December 22, 1853. She
descended from one of the foremost families of Spanish America, which
boasted of Simon Bolivar "the Washington of South America" as one of its
members. Artists have been known among her ancestors as far back as the
fourteenth century when the famous painter Carreño lived in Spain.

Mme. Carreño's first teacher was her father. Later she studied with a
German teacher in her native country. At seven she played the _Rondo
Capriccio_ of Mendelssohn with great _éclat_. A revolution obliged the
Carreño family to move to New York. The death of a friend to whom funds
had been entrusted placed the party of eighteen refugees in dire straits
and a concert was arranged at which the tiny Teresa came to the front
and secured sufficient means for their existence.

Gottschalk, then in the height of his fame in New York, became the
child's next teacher. She remained with him for two years. Then she went
to Paris and became a pupil of Georges Mathias, the famous disciple of
Chopin. Her success as a virtuoso pianist in Europe excited the
attention of Rubinstein who devoted a great deal of time to giving her
invaluable advice and instruction in interpretation. Indeed Rubinstein
was so proud of her that he repeatedly introduced her as his daughter in
art and would jokingly say "Are not our hands exactly alike?"

Mme. Carreño's brilliance, force, breadth of thought and almost sensuous
love for the beautiful made her numerous tours through all of the
music-loving countries remarkably successful.

[Illustration: TERESA CARREÑO]





It is difficult for me to discuss the subject of individuality without
recollecting one of the most impressive and significant events of my
entire career. When I was taken to Europe as a child, for further study,
it was my good fortune to meet and play for the immortal Franz Liszt. He
seemed deeply interested in my playing, and with the kindliness for
which he was always noted he gave me his blessing, a kind of artistic
sacrament that has had a tremendous influence upon all my work as an
artist. He laid his hand upon my head and among other things said:
"Little girl, with time you will be one of us. Don't imitate anyone.
Keep yourself true to yourself. Cultivate your individuality and do not
follow blindly in the paths of others."

In this one thought Liszt embodied a kind of a pedagogical sermon which
should be preached every day in all the schools, conservatories and
music studios of the world. Nothing is so pitiful as the evidences of a
strong individuality crushed out by an artificial educational system
which makes the system itself of paramount importance and the individual
of microbic significance.

The signs of individuality may be observed in little folks at a very
early age. With some children they are not very pronounced, and the
child seems like hundreds of others without any particular inclination,
artistic or otherwise. It is then that the teacher's powers of
divination should be brought into play. Before any real progress can be
made the nature of the child must be studied carefully. In the case of
other children, the individuality is very marked at an early age. As a
rule, the child with the marked individuality is the one from whom the
most may be expected later in life. Sometimes this very individuality is
mistaken for precocity. This is particularly the case with musicians. In
a few instances the individuality of the master has been developed late
in life, as was the case of Richard Wagner, whose early individual
tendencies were toward the drama rather than music.


The teacher in accepting a new pupil should realize that there at once
arises new problems at every step. The pupil's hand, mind, body and soul
may be in reality different from those of every other pupil the teacher
has taught. The individual peculiarities of the hand should be carefully
considered. If the hand has long, tapering fingers, with the fingers
widely separated, it will need quite different treatment from that of
the pupil with a short, compact, muscular hand. If the pupil's mind
indicates mental lethargy or a lack of the proper early educational
training, this must be carefully considered by the teacher.

If the pupil's body is frail and the health uncertain, surely the
teacher will not think of prescribing the same work she would prescribe
for a robust, energetic pupil who appears never to have had a sick day.
One pupil might be able to practice comfortably for four and five hours
a day, while another would find her energy and interest exhausted in two
hours. In fact, I would consider the study of individuality the
principal care or study of the teacher.

The individuality of different virtuoso performers is very marked.
Although the virtuoso aspires to encompass all styles--that is, to be
what you would call an "all-around" player--it is, nevertheless, the
individuality of the player that adds the additional charm to the
piano-recital. You hear a great masterpiece executed by one virtuoso,
and when you hear the same composition played by another you will detect
a difference, not of technical ability or of artistic comprehension, but
rather of individuality. Rembrandt, Rubens and Vandyke might have all
painted from the same model, but the finished portrait would have been
different, and that difference would have been a reflection of the
individuality of the artist.


Again let me emphasize the necessity for the correct "diagnosis" of the
pupil's individuality upon the part of the teacher. Unless the right
work is prescribed by the teacher, the pupil will rarely ever survive
artistically. It is much the same as with the doctor. If the doctor
gives the wrong medicine and the patient dies, surely the doctor is to
blame. It makes no difference whether the doctor had good intentions or
not. The patient is dead and that is the end of all. I have little
patience with these people who have such wonderful intentions, but who
have neither the ability, courage nor willingness to carry out these
intentions. Many teachers would like to accomplish a very great deal for
their pupils, but alas! they are either not able or they neglect those
very things which make the teacher's work a mission. One of the
teacher's greatest responsibilities lies in determining at first upon a
rational educational course by divining the pupil's individuality.
Remember that pupils are not all like sheep to be shorn in the same
identical fashion with the same identical shears.


One of the most remarkable cases of a pronounced musical individuality
was that of the late Edward MacDowell, who came to me for instruction
for a considerable time. He was then quite youthful, and his motives
from the very first were of the highest and noblest. His ideals were so
lofty that he required little stimulation or urging of any kind. Here it
was necessary to study the pupil's nature very carefully, and provide
work that would develop his keenly artistic individuality. I remember
that he was extremely fond of Grieg, and the marked and original
character of the Norwegian tone-poet made a deep impression upon him. He
was poetical, and loved to study and read poetry. To have repressed
MacDowell in a harsh or didactic manner would have been to have
demolished those very characteristics which, in later years, developed
in such astonishing fashion that his compositions have a distinctiveness
and a style all their own.

It gives me great pleasure to place his compositions upon my programs
abroad, and I find that they are keenly appreciated by music lovers in
the old world. If MacDowell had not had a strong individuality, and if
he had not permitted this individuality to be developed along normal
lines, his compositions would not be the treasures to our art that they


If the teacher discovers a pupil with apparent musical talent, but whose
nature has not been developed to appreciate the beautiful and romantic
in this wonderful world of ours, he will find it quite impossible to
alter the pupil's individuality in this respect by work at the keyboard
alone. The mundane, prosaic individual who believes that the sole aim of
musical study is the acquisition of technic, or the magic of digital
speed, must be brought to realize that this is a fault of individuality
which will mar his entire career unless it is intelligently corrected.
Years and years spent in practice will not make either a musician or a
virtuoso out of one who can conceive of nothing more than how many times
he can play a series of notes within the beats of the metronome, beating
208 times a minute.

Speed does not constitute virtuosity, nor does the ability to unravel
the somewhat intricate keyboard puzzles of Bach and Brahms make in
itself fine piano playing. The mind of the artist must be cultured; in
fact, quite as cultured as that of the composer who conceived the music.
Culture comes from the observation of many things: Nature, architecture,
science, machinery, sculpture, history, men and women, and poetry. I
advise aspiring music students to read a great deal of poetry.

I find great inspiration in Shakespeare, inspiration which I know is
communicated to my interpretations of musical masterpieces at my
concerts. Who can remain unmoved by the mystery and psychology of
_Hamlet_, the keen suffering and misery of _King Lear_, the bitter hate
and revenge of _Othello_, the sweet devotion of _Romeo and Juliet_, the
majesty of _Richard III_, and the fairy beauty of _A Midsummer Night's
Dream_? In this wonderful kaleidoscope of all the human passions one can
find a world of inspiration. I am also intensely fond of Goethe, Heine,
and Alfred de Musset. It gives me pleasure to compare them to the great
masters of music. Shakespeare I compare to Brahms, Goethe to Bach and
Beethoven, and Heine and Musset to Chopin and Liszt.


Vivacity and brilliancy in playing are largely matters of temperament
and a fluent technic. I owe a great deal in this respect to Gottschalk.
When he came back to America fresh from the hands of the inimitable
Chopin, he took the most minute pains to cultivate this characteristic
in my playing. Chopin's own playing was marked by delicacy and an
intensity that was apart from the bravura playing of most of the artists
of his time. Gottschalk was a keen observer, and he did everything
possible to impart this style to me. I have used the studies of Czerny,
Liszt, Henselt and Clementi to develop brilliancy with pupils.

It should be remembered that the root of all brilliant playing lies in
one thing--accuracy. Without accuracy any attempt at brilliancy must
result in "mussiness." It is impossible to explain these things by means
of books and theories. Remember what Goethe says: "Alle Theorie is grau,
mein Freund" (all theory is foggy or hard to comprehend). One can say
fifty times as much in twenty minutes as one can put in a book. Books
are necessary, but by no means depend entirely upon books for technical

Individuals who are careless possess a trait that will seriously mar
their individuality as musicians and artists. Carelessness is so often
taken for "abandon" in playing. "Abandon" is something quite different
and pertains to that unconsciousness of technical effort which only
comes to the artist after years of practice. To play with "abandon" and
miss a few notes in this run, play a few false notes in the next, strike
the wrong bass note here and there, mumble trills and overlook the
correct phrasing entirely, with the idea that you are doing the same
thing you have seen some great virtuoso do, is simply the superlative
degree of carelessness.

To one whose individuality is marred by carelessness let me recommend
very slow playing, with the most minute attention to detail. Technically
speaking, Czerny and Bach are of great value in correcting carelessness.
In Czerny the musical structure of the compositions is so clearly and
openly outlined that any error is easily detected, while in Bach the
structure is so close and compact that it is difficult to make an error
without interrupting the movement of some other voice that will reveal
the error. The main consideration, however, is personal carefulness, and
it makes little difference what the study is, so long as the student
himself takes great pains to see that he is right, and exactly right,
before he attempts to go ahead. Most musicians, however, would say that
Bach was the one great stone upon which our higher technical structure
must firmly stand.

Some individuals are so superficial and so "frothy" that it is difficult
to conceive of their doing anything serious or really worth while. It is
very hard for the teacher to work with such a pupil, because they have
not realized themselves as yet. They have not looked into their lives
and discerned those things which make life of most importance. Life is
not all play, nor is it all sorrow. But sorrow often does much to
develop the musician's character, to make him look into himself and
discover his more serious purposes. This might also be accomplished by
some such means of self-introspection as "Christian Science." Although I
am not a "Christian Scientist," I am a great believer in its wonderful

The greatest care must be taken in developing the individualities of the
superficial pupils. To give them Bach or Brahms at the outstart would be
to irritate them. They must be led to a fondness for music of a deeper
or more worthy character by gradual steps in that direction. In my own
case I was fortunate in having the advice of mature and famous
musicians, and as a child was given music of a serious order only. I
have always been grateful for this experience. At one of my first New
York concerts I had the honor of having Theodore Thomas as first
violinist, and I well remember his natural bent for music of a serious
order, which was in a decided contrast to the popular musical taste of
the times.


Every composer has a pronounced individuality. To the experienced
musician this individuality becomes so marked that he can often detect
the composer's style in a composition which he has never heard. The
artist studies the individuality of the composer through the study of
his biography, through the study of musical history in general and
through the analysis of individual compositions.

Every music student should be familiar with the intensely necessary and
extremely valuable subject of musical history. How else can he become
familiar with the personal individualities of the great composers? The
more I know of Chopin, Beethoven, Scarlatti or Mendelssohn as men, and
the more I know of the times in which they lived, the closer I feel to
the manner in which they would have wished their compositions
interpreted. Consider how markedly different are the individualities of
Wagner and Haydn, and how different the interpretations of the works of
these masters should be.

Strauss and Debussy are also very different in their methods of
composition. Strauss seems to me a tremendous genius who is inventing a
new musical language as he goes. Debussy does not appeal to me in the
same manner. He always seems to be groping for musical ideas, while with
Strauss the greatness of his ideas is always evident and all-compelling.

In closing, let me say that _Time_, _Experience_ and _Work_ are the
moulders of all individuality. Few of us close our days with the same
individualities which become evident in our youth. We are either
growing better or worse all the time. We rarely stand still. To the
musician work is the great sculptor of individuality. As you work and as
you think, so will you be. No deed, no thought, no hope is too
insignificant to fail to influence your nature. As through work we
become better men and women, so through work do we become better
musicians. Carlyle has beautifully expressed this thought in "Past and
Present" thus: "The latest Gospel in this world is, 'Know thy work and
do it.' Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other
blessedness. He has a WORK, a life purpose; he has found it and will
follow it."




1. Why should imitation be avoided?

2. Should individuality in playing be developed at an early age?

3. Should individual physical peculiarities be taken into consideration?

4. In what way was Edward MacDowell's individuality marked?

5. How may individuality be developed through poetry?

6. What studies are particularly useful in the cultivation of brilliant

7. What is the best remedy for careless playing?

8. How must superficial pupils be treated?

9. Why is the study of musical history so important?

10. What may be called the sculptor of individuality in music?

[Illustration: O. GABRILOWITSCH]



Ossip Gabrilowitsch was born in St. Petersburg, February 8, 1878. His
father was a well-known jurist of the Russian capital. His brothers were
musical and his first teacher was one of his brothers. Later, he was
taken to Anton Rubinstein who earnestly advocated a career as a
virtuoso. Accordingly he entered the classes of Victor Tolstoff at the
St. Petersburg Conservatory, then under the supervision of Rubinstein
himself. His frequent personal conferences with the latter were of
immense value to him. Thereafter he went to Vienna and studied with
Leschetizky for two years. He has made many tours of Europe and America
as a piano virtuoso and has also appeared as an orchestral conductor
with pronounced success. He was a great friend of the late Mark Twain
(Samuel L. Clemens) and married one of his daughters.

(The following conference was conducted in English.)




"Modern pianoforte teachers in many instances seem to make deliberate
attempts to complicate the very simple matter of touch. In the final
analyses the whole study of touch may be resolved into two means of
administering force to the keyboard, _i. e._, weight and muscular
activity. The amount of pressure brought to bear upon the keys depends
upon the amount of arm weight and upon the quickness with which the
muscles of the hand, forearm, full-arm and back permit the key to be
struck. Upon these two means of administering force must depend whatever
differentiation in dynamic power and tonal quality the player desires to
produce. The various gradations of tone which the virtuoso's hand and
arm are trained to execute are so minute that it is impossible for me to
conceive of a scientific instrument or scale to measure them.
Physiologists have attempted to construct instruments to do this, but
little of value has come from such experiments.


"Only a comparatively few years ago thousands of teachers were insisting
upon having their pupils keep the arms in a still, even rigid, condition
during practice. This naturally resulted in the stiffest imaginable
kind of a touch, and likewise in a mechanical style of playing that made
what has come to be known in later days as 'tone color' impossible.

"At this day the finger touch as it was formerly known has almost gone
out of existence. By finger touch I refer to the old custom of holding
the hand and forearm almost rigid and depending upon the muscular
strength of the fingers for all tonal effects. In fact, I so rarely
employ the finger touch, except in combination with the arm touch, that
it is almost an insignificant factor as far as my own playing is
concerned. By this the reader must not think that the training of the
fingers, and particularly the finger tips, is to be neglected. But this
training, to my mind, is not so much a matter of acquiring digital
strength to produce force as to accustom the fingers to strike the notes
with the greatest possible accuracy and speed. This belongs rather to
the realm of technic than to that of touch, and behind all technic is
the intellect of the player. Technic is a matter of training the finger
tips to attack and leave the keys under the absolute discipline of the
brain. Touch has a much broader and wider significance. It is touch that
reveals the soul of the player.


"Touch is the distinguishing characteristic which makes one player's
music sound different from that of another, for it is touch that
dominates the player's means of producing dynamic shading or tone
quality. I know that many authorities contend that the quality of tone
depends upon the instrument rather than upon the performer.
Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that if I were to hear a number
of pianists play in succession upon the same instrument behind a screen
and one of these performers were to be my friend, Harold Bauer, I could
at once identify his playing by his peculiarly individual touch. In
fact, the trained ear can identify different individual characteristics
with almost the same accuracy that we identify different voices. One
could never forget Leschetizky's touch, or that of many another
contemporary pianist.

"No matter how wonderful the pianist's technic--that is, how rapidly and
accurately he can play passages of extraordinary difficulty, it is quite
worthless unless he possesses that control over his touch which enables
him to interpret the composer's work with the right artistic shading. A
fine technic without the requisite touch to liberate the performer's
artistic intelligence and 'soul' is like a gorgeous chandelier without
the lights. Until the lights are ignited all its beauty is obscured in
darkness. With an excellent technic and a fine touch, together with a
broad musical and general education and artistic temperament, the young
player may be said to be equipped to enter the virtuoso field.


"As I have intimated, if the fingers are used exclusively a terribly dry
tone must result. The full-arm touch, in which I experience a complete
relaxation of the arm from the shoulder to the finger tips, is the
condition I employ at most times. But the touches I use are combinations
of the different finger, hand and arm touches. These lead to myriads of
results, and only the experienced performer can judge where they should
be applied to produce desired effects.

"You will observe by placing your hand upon my shoulder that even with
the movement of the single finger a muscular activity may be detected at
the shoulder. This shows how completely relaxed I keep my entire arm
during performance. It is only in this way that I can produce the right
kind of singing tone in cantabile passages. Sometimes I use one touch in
one voice and an entirely different touch in another voice. The
combinations are kaleidoscopic in their multiplicity.


"I have never been in favor of the many automatic and mechanical methods
of producing touch. They are all dangerous to my mind. There is only one
real way of teaching, and that is through the sense of hearing of the
pupil. The teacher should go to the piano and produce the desired tonal
effect, and the pupil should listen and watch the teacher. Then the
pupil should be instructed to secure a similar result, and the teacher
should persevere until the audible effect is nearly the same. If the
pupil, working empirically, does not discover the means leading to this
effect, the teacher should call the pupil's attention to some of the
physical conditions leading to the result. If the teacher is unable to
play well enough to illustrate this, and to secure the right kind of
touch from his pupils, he has no business to be a teacher of advanced
students. All the theory in the world will never lead to the proper

"Rubinstein paid little or no attention to the theory of touch, and, in
fact, he frequently stated that he cared little about such things, but
who could hear Rubinstein's touch without being benefited? I believe
that in teaching touch the teacher should first give his model of the
touch required and then proceed from this positive ideal, by means of
the so-called Socratic method of inducing the pupil to produce a similar
result through repeated questions. In this way the pupil will not be
obliged to resign his individuality, as would be the case if he followed
strict technical injunctions and rules.


"For the same reason it is advisable for the pupil to hear many fine
pianists. He should never miss an opportunity to attend the concerts of
great virtuosos. I can frankly say that I have learned as much from
hearing the concerts of great performers as I have from any other source
of educational inspiration. The pupil should listen intelligently and
earnestly. When he hears what appeals to him as a particularly fine
tonal effect, he should endeavor to note the means the pianist employs
to produce this effect.

"He must, however, learn to discriminate between affection or needless
movement and the legitimate means to an end. Consequent upon a relaxed
full arm is the occasional dropping of the wrist below the level of the
keyboard. A few great players practice this at a public recital, and lo!
and behold! a veritable cult of 'wrist-droppers' arises and we see
students raising and lowering the wrist with exaggerated mechanical
stiffness and entirely ignoring the important end in which this wrist
dropping was only an incident.


"I am continually amused at the thousand and one different ways of
striking the keys that teachers devise and then attach with the label
'method.' These varied contortions are, after all, largely a matter of
vision, and have little effect upon the real musical results that the
composition demands. Touch, as I have previously said, all comes down to
the question of the degree of weight applied to the keyboard and the
degree of quickness with which it is applied. In rapid octave and
staccato passages the hand touch is largely used. This is the touch
most dependent upon local muscular activity. Aside from this the
combination of muscular and weight touch almost invariably obtain.


"I desire to reiterate that if the ideal touch is presented to the
pupil's mind, through the medium of the ear, he will be much more
successful in attaining the artistic ends required. The pupil must
realize clearly _what is good_ and _what is bad_, and his _aural sense_
must be continually educated in this respect. He should practice slowly
and carefully at the keyboard until he is convinced that his arm is at
all times relaxed. He cannot make his sense of touch too sensitive. He
should even be able to sense the weight or upward pressure which brings
the pianoforte key back into position after it has been depressed. The
arm should feel as if it were floating, and should never be tense.

"When I am playing I do not think of the arm motion. I am, of course,
absorbed in the composition being performed. A relaxed arm has become
second nature to me. It comes by itself. Players are rarely able to tell
just how they produce their results. There are too many contributing
factors. Even with the best-known performers the effects differ at
different performances. It is impossible for the performer to give a
program repeatedly in identically the same manner. If he did succeed in
doing this, his playing would soon become stereotyped.

"The teacher should, from the very beginning, seek to avoid stiffness
and bad hand positions, such as crooked fingers or broken-in knuckles.
If these details are neglected the pupil is liable to go through his
entire musical career greatly hampered. I would earnestly advise all
teachers to discourage the efforts of pupils to attain virtuoso heights
unless they are convinced beyond the possibility of a doubt that the
pupil has marvelous talent. The really great performers seem to be
endowed with a 'God-given' insight in the matter of both technic and
touch. They are unquestionably born for it. They possess the right
mental and physical capacity for success. No amount of training would
make a Normandy dray horse that could compete with a Kentucky
thoroughbred on the race course. It is a pitiful sight to watch students
who could not possibly become virtuosos slave year after year before an
ivory and ebony tread-mill, when, if they realized their lack of
personal qualifications, they could engage in teaching or in some other
professional or mercantile line and take a delight in their music as an
avocation that they would never find in professional playing.


"To some, the matter of touch is of little significance. They are
apparently born with an appreciation of tonal values that others might
work years to attain in vain. Those who imagine that touch is entirely
a matter of finger tips are greatly mistaken. The ear is quite as
important as the organs employed in administering the touch to the
keyboard. The pianist should in reality not think of the muscles and
nerves in his arm, nor of the ivory and ebony keys, nor of the hammers
and strings in the interior of the instrument. He should think first and
always of the kind of tone he is eliciting from the instrument, and
determine whether it is the most appropriate tonal quality for the
proper interpretation of the piece he is playing. He must, of course,
spend years of hard thought and study in cultivating this ability to
judge and produce the right touch, but the performer who is more
concerned about the technical claims of a composition than its musical
interpretation can only hope to give an uninteresting, uninspired,
stilted performance that should rightly drive all intelligent hearers
from his audience hall."




1. What are the two means of administering touch?

2. State the effect of a rigid arm upon piano playing.

3. Can a pianist's playing be distinguished by touch?

4. How do the muscles of the shoulder come into action in piano playing?

5. How should the sense of hearing be employed in piano playing?

6. How did Rubinstein regard the theory of touch?

7. When is the hand touch generally employed?

8. How should the arm feel during the act of touch?

9. Does the virtuoso hamper himself with details of technic during a

10. What should be the pianist's first thought during the moment of



Leopold Godowsky was born at Wilna, Russia (Russian Poland), February
13, 1870. His father was a physician. When Godowsky was nine years old
he made his first public appearance as a pianist and met with
instantaneous success--success so great that a tour of Germany and
Poland was arranged for the child. When thirteen he entered the Royal
High School for Music in Berlin as the _protégé_ of a rich banker of
Königsberg. There he studied under Bargeil and Rudorff. In 1884 he
toured America together with Ovide Musin, the violin virtuoso. Two years
later he became the pupil of Saint-Saëns in Paris. In 1887 and 1888 he
toured France and visited London, where he received a command to appear
at the British Court. In 1890 he returned to America and made this
country his home for ten years, appearing frequently in concert and
engaging in several tours. In 1894-1895 he became head of the piano
department of the South Broad Street Conservatory, Philadelphia. He then
became director of the Piano Department of the Chicago Conservatory and
held this position for five years. In 1900 Godowsky appeared in Berlin
and was immediately recognized as one of the great piano masters of his
time. In 1909 he became director of the Master School of Piano Playing
connected with the Imperial Conservatory of Vienna (a post previously
held by Emil Sauer and F. B. Busoni). His success as a teacher has been
exceptional. His compositions, particularly his fifty studies upon
Chopin Etudes, have won the admiration of the entire musical world.

[Illustration: LEOPOLD GODOWSKY]





"It is quite impossible in a short talk to earnest music students to do
more than discuss a few of the more important points in the subject
proposed. It may safely be said at the start, however, that the popular
conception of technic is quite an erroneous one and one that deserves
correction. It is highly necessary that the student should have a
correct attitude of mind regarding this matter. First of all, I
distinguish between what might be called mere mechanics and technic.

"The art of piano playing as a whole seems to divide itself into three
quite distinct channels when it is considered from the educational
standpoint. The first channel is that of mechanics. This would naturally
include all that pertains to that branch of piano study which has to do
with the exercises that develop the hand from the machine
standpoint--that is, make it capable of playing with the greatest
possible rapidity, the greatest possible power, when power is needed and
also provide it with the ability to play those passages which, because
of fingering or unusual arrangement of the piano keys, are particularly
difficult to perform.


"In the second channel we would find the study of the technic of the art
of playing the instrument. Technic differs from the mechanics of piano
playing in that it has properly to do with the intellectual phase of the
subject rather than the physical. It is the brain side of the study not
the digital or the manual. To the average student who is short-sighted
enough to spend hours hammering away at the keyboard developing the
mechanical side of his work, a real conscious knowledge of the great
saving he could effect through technic, would be a godsend. Technic
properly has to do with Rhythm, Tempo, Accent, Phrasing, Dynamics,
Agogics, Touch, etc.

"The excellence of one's technic depends upon the accuracy of one's
understanding of these subjects and his skill in applying them to his
interpretations at the keyboard. Mechanical skill, minus real technical
grasp, places the player upon a lower footing than the piano-playing
machines which really do play all the notes, with all the speed and all
the power the operator demands. Some of these instruments, indeed, are
so constructed that many of the important considerations that we have
placed in the realm of technic are reproduced in a surprising manner.


"However, not until man invents a living soul, can piano playing by
machine include the third and vastly important channel through which we
communicate the works of the masters to those who would hear them. That
channel is the emotional or artistic phase of piano playing. It is the
channel which the student must expect to develop largely through his own
inborn artistic sense and his cultivated powers of observation of the
playing of master pianists. It is the sacred fire communicated from one
art generation to the next and modified by the individual emotions of
the performer himself.

"Even though the performer may possess the most highly perfected
mechanism, technical mastery which enables him to play great
masterpieces effectively, if he does not possess the emotional insight,
his performances will lack a peculiar subtlety and artistic power that
will deprive him of becoming a truly great pianist.


"Exercises for the mechanical side of pianoforte playing abound. Czerny
alone wrote over one thousand opus numbers. There have also been
valuable attempts to provide books to assist the student in his
technical work, but it should always be remembered that this depends
first of all upon understanding and then upon the ability to translate
that understanding to the instrument.

"There can never be any exercises in the emotional side of the student's
work other than the entire literature of the instrument. One may as well
try to capture the perfume of the flower as define the requirements of
the emotional in pianoforte playing. A great deal may be done to inspire
the student and suggest ideas which may bring him to the proper artistic
appreciation of a passage, but it is this very indefinability which
makes the emotional phase one of the most important of all. Attendance
at the recitals of artistic pianists is of great help in this

"The student, however, may learn a vast amount about real piano technic
and apply his knowledge to his playing through the medium of the proper
studies. For instance, in the subject of touch alone, there is a vast
store of valuable information which can be gained from a review of the
progressive steps through which this significant phase of the subject
has passed during the last century. The art of piano playing, considered
apart from that of the similar instruments which preceded the piano, is
very little over one hundred years old.


"During this time many significant changes have been made in the
mechanism of the instrument and in the methods of manufacture. These
changes in the nature of the instrument have in themselves doubtless had
much to do with changes in methods of touch as have the natural
evolutions coming through countless experiments made by teachers and
performers. Thus we may speak of the subject of touch as being divided
into three epochs, the first being that of Czerny (characterized by a
stroke touch), the second being that of the famous Stuttgart
Conservatory (characterized by a pressure touch), and the third or new
epoch which is characterized by weight playing. All my own playing is
based upon the last named method, and I had the honor of being one of
the first to make application of it when I commenced teaching some
twenty years ago.


"In this method of playing, the fingers are virtually 'glued to the
keys' in that they leave them the least possible distance in order to
accomplish their essential aims. This results in no waste motion of any
kind, no loss of power and consequently the greatest possible
conservation of energy. In this manner of playing the arm is so relaxed
that it would fall to the side if the keyboard were removed from beneath
it. Since the hand and the arm are relaxed the back (top) of the hand is
almost on a level with the forearm.

"The high angular stroke which characterized the playing of the Czerny
epoch and which could hardly fail to cause tired muscles and unbearably
stiff playing, is seen very little in these days. By means of it the
student was taught to deliver a blow to the keyboard--a blow which
permitted very little modification to the requirements of modern

"In my experience as a pianist and as a teacher, I have observed that
the weight touch allows the greatest possible opportunity for the proper
application of those all-important divisions of technic without which
piano playing is not only inartistic, but devoid of all interest.
Weight playing permits nothing to interfere with discriminative
phrasing, complicated rhythmical problems, the infinitely subtle
variation of time for expressive purposes now classed under the head of
agogics, all shades of dynamic gradation; in fact everything that falls
in the domain of the artist pianist.


"In weight playing the fingers seem to mould the piano keys under them,
the hand and arm are relaxed, but never heavy. The maximum of relaxation
results in the minimum of fatigue. In legato playing, for instance, the
fingers rest upon the fleshy part behind the tip rather than immediately
upon the tip as they would in passage work when the player desired to
have the effect of a string of pearls. The sensation in legato playing
is that of pulling back rather than striking the keys. In passages where
force is required the sensation is that of pushing.

"Much might be said of the sensibility of the finger tips as they come
in contact with the ivory and ebony keys. Most every artist has a strong
consciousness that there is a very manifest relation between his
emotional and mental conditions and his tactile sense, that is his
highly developed sense of feeling at the finger tips on the keyboard.
However, the phenomena may be explained from the psychological
standpoint, it is nevertheless true that the feeling of longing,
yearning, hope or soulful anticipation, for instance, induces a totally
different kind of touch from that of anger, resentment or hate.

"The artist who is incapable of communicating his emotions to the
keyboard or who must depend upon artifice to stimulate emotions rarely
electrifies his audiences. Every concert is a test of the artist's
sincerity, not merely an exhibition of his prowess, or his acrobatic
accomplishments on the keyboard. He must have some vital message to
convey to his audience or else his entire performance will prove
meaningless, soulless, worthless.

"That which is of great importance to him is to have the least possible
barrier between his artistic conception of the work he would interpret
and the sounds that are conveyed to the ears of his audience. If we
obliterate the emotional side and depend upon artifice or what might be
called in vulgar parlance "tricks of the trade," pianism will inevitably
descend to a vastly lower level. By cultivating a sensibility in touch
and employing the technical means which will bring the interpreter's
message to the world with the least possible obstruction, we reach the
highest in the art. Those who would strain at gnats might contend that
with the machinery of the instrument itself, intervening between the
touch at the keyboard and the sounding wires, would make the influence
of the emotions though the tactile sense (sense of touch) is wholly
negligible. To this I can only reply that the experience of the artist
and the teacher is always more reliable, more susceptible to finer
appreciations of artistic values than that of the pure theorist, who
views his problems through material rather than spiritual eyes. Every
observing pianist is familiar with the remarkable influence upon the
nerves of the voice-making apparatus that any emotion makes. Is it not
reasonable to suppose that the finger tips possess a similar sensibility
and that the interpretations of any highly trained artist are duly
affected through them?


"Indeed, Individuality, Character and Temperament are becoming more and
more significant in the highly organized art of pianoforte playing.
Remove these and the playing of the artist again becomes little better
than that of a piano-playing machine. No machine can ever achieve the
distinguishing charm that this trinity brings to pianoforte playing.
Whether the performer is a 'genius' who has carefully developed the
performance of a masterpiece until it evidences that distinguishing mark
of the authoritative interpretation, or whether he is a 'talent' who
improvises as the mood of the moment inspires him and never plays the
same composition twice in anything like a similar manner, he need not
fear the rivalry of any machine so long as he preserves his
individuality, character and temperament.


"The fault with many students, however, is the very erroneous idea that
genius or talent will take the place of study and work. They minimize
the necessity for a careful painstaking consideration of the infinite
details of technic. To them, the significance of the developments of
Bach, Rameau, and Scarlatti in fingering means nothing. They are content
with the superficial. They are incapable of comparing the value of the
advances made by Von Bülow, Tausig and other innovators whose lives were
given to a large extent to the higher development of the technic of the
instrument. They struggle laboriously at the keyboard, imagining that
they are dealing with the problem of technic, when in reality they are
doing little more than performing a drill in a kind of musical
gymnasium--a necessary drill to be sure, but at the same time quite
worthless unless directed by a brain trained in the principles of the
technic of the art.




1. How may the mechanics of playing be distinguished from the larger
subject of technic?

2. With what has technic to do?

3. What channel in the study of pianoforte must the pupil develop most

4. Name three epochs into which the subject of touch may be divided.

5. How does weight playing differ from the high angular playing of the
Czerny epoch?

6. How should the fingers rest in legato playing?

7. What may be said of the sensitiveness of the finger tips?

8. By what device may pianism descend to a lower level?

9. What qualities must the student preserve above all things?

10. Will genius or talent take the place of study and work?




Miss Katharine Goodson was born at Watford, Herts, England. She
commenced the study of music at so very youthful an age that she made
several appearances in the English Provinces before she was twelve years
of age. Her talent aroused such interest that she was sent to the Royal
Academy of Music in London. There she was placed under the artistic
guidance of one of the foremost English teachers of pianoforte, Oscar
Beringer, with whom she remained for six years. This was followed by
four years under Leschetizky in Vienna.

Leschetizky saw splendid opportunities in such talented and regularly
trained material and is said to have given particularly careful
attention to Miss Goodson. It is not surprising that upon her return to
London Miss Goodson made a profound impression upon the musical public
and laid the foundation for a splendid reputation. She toured in
England, Germany, Austria and America with great success. In the Grove
Dictionary, her playing is described in the following manner: "It is
marked by an amount of verve and animation that are most rare with the
younger English pianists. She has a great command of tone gradation,
admirable technical finish, genuine musical taste and considerable
individuality of style." In 1903 Miss Goodson married Mr. Arthur Hinton,
one of the most brilliant of modern English composers.





"Judging from the mischievous investigations of things in general, which
seem so natural for the small boy to make, it would appear that our
tendency to analyze things is innate. We also have innumerable
opportunities to observe how children, to say nothing of primitive
people, struggle to construct--to put this and that together for the
purpose of making something new--in other words, to employ the opposite
process to analysis, known as synthesis. Moreover, it does not demand
much philosophy to perceive that all scientific and artistic progress is
based upon these very processes of analysis and synthesis. We pull
things apart to find out how they are made and what they are made of. We
put them together again to indicate the mastery of our knowledge.

"The measure of musicianship is the ability to do. All the analyzing in
the world will not benefit the pupil unless he can give some visible
indications of his proficiency. Indeed, important as the process is, it
is possible to carry it to extremes and neglect the building process
which leads to real accomplishment.


"A great many of the pupils who have come to me indicate a lamentable
neglect in an understanding of the very first things which should have
been analyzed by the preparatory teachers. It is an expensive process to
study with a public artist unless the preparation has been thoroughly
made. Reputation naturally places a higher monetary value upon the
services of the virtuoso, and for the student to expect instruction in
elementary points in analysis is obviously an extravagance. The
virtuoso's time during the lesson period should be spent in the finer
study of interpretation--not in those subjects which the elementary
teacher should have completed. Often the teacher of an advanced pupil is
deceived at the start and assumes that the pupil has a knowledge, which
future investigations reveal that he does not possess.

"For instance, the pupil should be able to determine the general
structure of a piece he is undertaking and should be so familiar with
the structure that it becomes a form of second nature to him. If the
piece is a sonata he should be able to identify the main theme and the
secondary theme whenever they appear or whenever any part of them
appears. Inability to do this indicates the most superficial kind of

"The student should know enough of the subject of form in general to
recognize the periods into which the piece is divided. Without this
knowledge how could he possibly expect to study with understanding?
Even though he has passed the stage when it is necessary for him to mark
off the periods, he should not study a new piece without observing the
outlines--the architectural plans the composer laid down in constructing
the piece. It is one thing for a Sir Christopher Wren to make the plans
of a great cathedral like St. Paul's and quite another thing for him to
get master builders to carry out those plans. By studying the composer's
architectural plan carefully the student will find that he is saving an
immense amount of time. For example, let us consider the Chopin _F Minor
Fantasie_. In this composition the main theme comes three times, each
time in a different key. Once learned in one key, it should be very
familiar in the next key.

"The student should also know something of the history of the dance, and
he should be familiar with the characteristics of the different national
dances. Each national dance form has something more than a rhythm--it
has an atmosphere. The word atmosphere may be a little loose in its
application here, but there seems to be no other word to describe what I
mean. The flavor of the Spanish bolero is very different from the
Hungarian czardas, and who could confound the intoxicating swirl of the
Italian tarantella with the stately air of cluny lace and silver rapiers
which seems to surround the minuet? The minuet, by the way, is
frequently played too fast. The minuet from Beethoven's Eighth Symphony
is a notable example. Many conductors have made the error of rushing
through it. Dr. Hans Richter conducts it with the proper tempo. This
subject in itself takes a tremendous amount of consideration and the
student should never postpone this first step in the analysis of the
works he is to perform.


"Despite the popular impression that music is imitative in the sense of
being able to reproduce different pictures and different emotions, it is
really very far from it. The subject of program music and illustrative
music is one of the widest in the art, and at the same time one of the
least definite. Except in cases like the Beethoven _Pastoral Symphony_,
where the composer has made obvious attempts to suggest rural scenes,
composers do not as a rule try to make either aquarelles or cycloramas
with their music. They write music for what it is worth as music, not as
scenery. Very often the public or some wily publisher applies the title,
as in the case of the _Moonlight Sonata_ or some of the Mendelssohn
_Songs Without Words_. Of course there are some notable exceptions, and
many teachers may be right in trying to stimulate the sluggish
imaginations of some pupils with fanciful stories. However, when there
is a certain design in a piece which lends itself to the suggestion of a
certain idea, as does, for instance, the Liszt-Wagner _Spinning Song_
from the _Flying Dutchman_, it is interesting to work with a specific
picture in view--but never forgetting the real beauty of the piece
purely as a beautiful piece of music.

"Some pieces with special titles are notoriously misnamed and carry no
possible means of definitely intimating what the composer intended. Even
some forms are misleading in their names. The _Scherzos_ of Chopin are
often very remote from the playful significance of the word--a
significance which is beautifully preserved in the _Scherzos_ of


"A third point in analyzing a new piece might be analyzing the rhythm.
It is one thing to understand or to comprehend a rhythm and another to
preserve it in actual playing. Rhythm depends upon the arrangement of
notes and accents in one or two measures which give a characteristic
swing to the entire composition. Rhythm is an altar upon which many
idols are smashed. Sometimes one is inclined to regard rhythm as a kind
of sacred gift. Whatever it may be, it is certainly most difficult to
acquire or better to absorb. A good rhythm indicates a finely balanced
musician--one who knows how and one who has perfect self-control. All
the book study in the world will not develop it. It is a knack which
seems to come intuitively or 'all at once' when it does come. My meaning
is clear to anyone who has struggled with the problem of playing two
notes against three, for at times it seems impossible, but in the
twinkling of an eye the conflicting rhythms apparently jump into place,
and thereafter the pupil has little difficulty with them.

"Rhythmic swing is different from rhythm, but is allied to it as it is
allied to tempo. To get the swing--the impelling force--the student must
have played many pieces which have a tendency to develop this swing. The
big waltzes of Moszkowski are fine for this. If one of Leschetizky's
pupils had difficulty with rhythm he almost invariably advised them to
go to hear the concerts of that king of rhythm and dance, Eduard
Strauss. Dances are invaluable in developing this sense of
rhythm--swift-moving dances like the bolero and the tarantella are
especially helpful. Certain pieces demand a particularly strict
observance of the rhythm, as does the Opus 42 of Chopin, in which the
left hand must adhere very strictly to the Valse rhythm.


"The ability to see the phrases by which a composition is built, clearly
and readily, simplifies the study of interpretation of a new piece
wonderfully. This, of course, is difficult at first, but with the proper
training the pupil should be able to see the phrases at a glance, just
as a botanist in examining a new flower would divide it in his mind's
eye into its different parts. He would never mistake the calyx for a
petal, and he would be able to determine at once the peculiarities of
each part. In addition to the melodic phrases the pupil should be able
to see the metrical divisions which underlie the form of the piece. He
should be able to tell whether the composition is one of eight-measure
sections or four-measure sections, or whether the sections are

"What a splendid thing it would be if little children at their first
lessons were taught the desirability of observing melodic phrases.
Teachers lay great stress upon hand formation, with the object of
getting the pupil to keep the hand in a perfect condition--a condition
that is the result of a carefully developed habit. Why not develop the
habit of noting the phrases in the same way? Why not a little mind
formation? It is a great deal nearer the real musical aim than the mere
digital work. The most perfectly formed hand in the world would be
worthless for the musician unless the mind that operates the hand has
had a real musical training."


"Every piano student ought to have a knowledge of harmony. But this
knowledge should be a practical one. What do I mean by a practical
knowledge of harmony? Simply this--a knowledge of harmony which
recognizes the ear as well as the eye. There are students of harmony who
can work out some harmonic problem with the skill of an expert
mathematician and yet they never for one single moment think of the
music their notes might make. This is due to the great neglect of the
study of ear-training in early musical education.

"To be able to recognize a chord when you see it on paper is not nearly
such an acquisition as the ability to recognize the same chord when it
is played. The student who can tell a diminished seventh, or an
augmented sixth at a glance, but who could not identify the same chords
when he saw them through his ears instead of his eyes is severely
handicapped. But how many musicians can do this? Ear-training should be
one of the first of all studies. It may be acquired more easily in
childhood if the student is not naturally gifted with it, and it is the
only basis of a thorough knowledge of harmony. The piano teacher cannot
possibly find time to give sufficient instruction in the subject of
harmony at the piano lesson. It demands a separate period, and in most
cases it is necessary and advisable to have a separate teacher; that is,
one who has made a specialty of harmony.

"The piano itself is of course a great help to the student in the study
of harmony, providing the student listens all the time he is playing.
Few adult piano students study string instruments, such as the violin or
'cello--instruments which cultivate the perception of hearing far more
than can the piano. For this reason all children should have the
advantage of a course in ear-training. This should not be training for
pitch alone, but for quality of tone as well. It may be supplemented
with exercises in musical dictation until the pupil is able to write
down short phrases with ease after he has heard them once. A pupil who
has had such a training would make ideal material for the advanced
teacher, and because of the greatly developed powers of the pupil would
be able to memorize quicker and make much better progress. In fact,
ear-training and harmony lead to great economy of time. For instance,
let us suppose that the pupil has a chord like the following in a


If the same chord appeared again in the piece it would probably be found
in the key of the dominant, thus:


It seems very obvious that if the pupil could perceive the harmonic
relationship between these two chords he would be spared the trouble of
identifying an entirely different chord when he finds the repetition of
it merely in another key. This is only one of scores of instances where
a knowledge of the harmonic structure proves to be of constant
importance to the student.


"Here again we find an interminable subject. Although there are only a
few principal divisions into which the subject of touch might be
divided, the number of different subdivisions of these best known
methods of striking the keys to produce artistic effects is very
considerable. The artist working day in and day out at the keyboard will
discover some subtle touch effects which he will always associate with a
certain passage. He may have no logical reason for doing this other than
that it appeals to his artistic sense. He is in all probability
following no law but that of his own musical taste and sense of hearing.

It is this more than anything else which gives individuality to the
playing of the different virtuosos and makes their efforts so different
from the playing of machines. Time and time again mechanical efforts
have been made to preserve all these infinite subtilities and some truly
wonderful machines have been invented, but not until the sculptor's
marble can be made to glow with the vitality of real flesh can this be
accomplished. Wonderful as the mechanical inventions are there is always
something lacking.

"Here, again, ear-training will benefit the pupil who is studying with a
virtuoso teacher. It is impossible to show exactly how certain touches
produce certain effects. The ear, however, hears these effects, and if
the pupil has the right kind of persistence he will work and work until
he is able to reproduce the same effect that he has heard. Then it will
be found that the touch he employs will be very similar to that used by
the virtuoso he has heard. It may take weeks to show a certain pupil a
kind of touch. The pupil with the trained ear and the willingness to
work might be able to pick up the same touch and produce the same effect
after a few days. A highly developed sense of hearing is of immense
value to the student who attends concerts for the purpose of promoting
his musical knowledge.


"The more one contemplates this subject the more one realizes the
responsibilities of the teacher in the first years of music study. Of
all the pupils who commence in the art there are but few who make it a
part of their lives; many of those who do continue find themselves
handicapped when they reach the more advanced stages of the journey,
owing to inefficient early training. At the period when their time is
the most valuable to them they have to take up studies which should have
been mastered eight or ten years before. The elementary teachers all
over the world have a big responsibility. If they belittle their work
with children and pine for the kind of teaching which the virtuosos
attempt to do, let them realize that they are in a sense the foundation
of the structure, and although perhaps not as conspicuous as the spire
which towers up into the skies, they are certainly of equal importance."




1. Is analysis natural to children?

2. When should the first steps in analysis be made?

3. Why is a knowledge of the different dance forms desirable?

4. What may be said of the poetic idea of the piece?

5. What indicates a finely balanced musician?

6. Should phrase analysis be taught at an early age?

7. Is the ability to identify a chord by hearing more important than the
ability to identify it by sight?

8. Does a trained ear help in the acquisition of touch?

9. What may the pupil learn from concerts?

10. When is the teacher's responsibility greatest?



Josef Hofmann was born at Cracow, Russia, January 20, 1877. His father
was an exceptionally successful teacher and was for a time Professor of
Harmony and Composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. The elder Hofmann's
talents were by no means limited to teaching, however, since he
conducted the Opera at Warsaw for many performances. He undertook the
training of his son with great care and since the child showed
remarkable promise the musicians of Russia took an extraordinary
interest in him. He appeared in public at the age of six and before he
was ten years of age he was the most celebrated child prodigy of his
time. He traveled thousands of miles, including tours of America,
playing complicated classical compositions in a manner which surprised
musicians everywhere. Fortunately for his health and education his tours
were terminated in time for him to study for the advanced work of the
more mature artist. Accordingly he was placed with the great Anton
Rubinstein with whom he remained for two years. At seventeen he resumed
his concert work again appearing in Dresden in 1894. By thoroughly
dignified methods, scholarly analysis, and his natural poetical sense
Hofmann introduced new ideas in virtuosoship which made him immensely
popular at once.

[Illustration: JOSEF HOFMANN]




The question of progress in pianoforte playing is one that admits of the
widest possible discussion. One is frequently asked whether the manner
of playing the pianoforte has undergone any change since the time of
Hummel, and, if it has advanced, of what nature are the advances, and to
what particular condition are the advances due. Johann Nepomuk Hummel,
it will be remembered, was contemporary with Beethoven, and was, in
fact, a kind of bridge between the old and the new. He made his début at
a concert given by Mozart at Dresden. For a time he was a kind of
assistant _kapellmeister_ to Haydn, and indeed many at that time thought
his works were quite on a par with those of the great master, Beethoven.
Hummel was a really great virtuoso, and was noted for his remarkable
improvisations. His style of playing was taken as a model in his time,
and consequently we may safely start with this epoch by way of example.


It is sometimes said that the changes in the construction of the piano
have caused a different treatment of it, but this reasoning is
superficial, inasmuch as the structural changes of the instrument
itself are called forth by the ever-increasing demands of the _composer_
made upon the instrument. So long as the tone quality, action and nature
of the instrument sufficed for compositions of the type of those of
Domenico Scarlatti, or François Couperin, or Rameau, there was little
need for change, but as the more modern composers longed for new and
more comprehensive effects, the piano-makers kept up with their desires
and aims. Thus it is that after all is said and done, the composer, and
the composer only, is responsible for the changes. The literature of the
piano determines them. It is the same in the advancement of piano
technic and interpretation. The composers conceive new and often
radically different musical ideas. These in turn demand a new manner of
interpretation. This kind of evolution has been going on continually
since the invention of the instrument and is going on to-day, only it is
more difficult for us to see it in the present than it is to review it
in the past.

The general mental tendencies of the times, the artistic and cultural
influences of the world taken as a whole, have also had a conspicuous
though somewhat less pronounced share in these matters since they
inevitably exert an influence upon the interpreter. Speaking from a
strictly pianistic point of view, it is the player's individuality,
influenced by the factors just stated, which is the determining element
in producing new pianistic tendencies. It is thus very evident that
progress in piano playing since the epoch of Hummel has been enormous.


You ask me what are the essential differences between the modern technic
and the technic of the older periods? It is very difficult to discuss
this question off-hand and it is one which might better be discussed in
an article of a different character. One difficulty lies in the
regrettable tendency of modern technic toward being a purpose in itself.
Judging from the manner in which some ambitious young players work,
their sole aim is to become human piano-playing machines quite without
any real musical consciousness. Before radically condemning this
tendency, however, it should be remembered that it has brought us many
undeniable advantages. It cannot be doubted that we owe to the ingenious
investigators of technical subjects greater possibilities in effective
polyphonic playing, economy of power and arm motion, larger
participation of the mind in the acquisition of technic, and numerous
other praiseworthy factors in good piano playing. In the olden days,
while technical exercises were by no means absent, they were not nearly
so numerous, and more time was given to the real musical elements in the
study of the musical compositions themselves. If the excellent technical
ideas to be found in some of the systems of to-day are employed solely
to secure real musical and artistic effects--that is, effects based
upon known æsthetic principles--the new technic will prove valuable, and
we should be very grateful for it. However, as soon as it becomes an
objective point in itself and succeeds in eclipsing the higher purposes
of musical interpretation, just so soon should it be abolished. If the
black charcoal sketch which the artist puts upon canvas to use as an
outline shows through the colors of the finished painting, no
masterpiece will result. Really artistic piano playing is an
impossibility until the outlines of technic have been erased to make way
for true interpretation from the highest sense of the word. There is
much more in this than most young artists think, and the remedy may be
applied at once by students and teachers in their daily work.


Again you ask whether technic has made any significant advance since the
time of Franz Liszt. Here again you confront me with a subject difficult
to discuss within the confines of a conference. There is so much to be
said upon it. A mere change in itself does not imply either progress or
retrogression. It is for this reason we cannot speak of progress since
the time of Liszt. To play as Liszt did--that is, exactly as he did, as
a mirror reflects an object--would not be possible to anyone unless he
were endowed with an individuality and personality exactly like that of
Liszt. Since no two people are exactly alike, it is futile to compare
the playing of any modern pianist with that of Franz Liszt. To discuss
accurately the playing of Liszt from the purely technical standpoint is
also impossible because so much of his technic was self-made, and also a
mere manual expression of his unique personality and that which his own
mind had created. He may perhaps never be equalled in certain respects,
but on the other hand there are unquestionably pianists to-day who would
have astonished the great master with their technics--I speak
technically, purely technically.


I have always been opposed to definite "methods"--so-called--when they
are given in an arbitrary fashion and without the care of the
intelligent teacher to adapt special need to special pupils. Methods of
this kind can only be regarded as a kind of musical stencil, or like the
dies that are used in factories to produce large numbers of precisely
similar objects. Since art and its merits are so strangely dependent
upon individuality (and this includes anatomical individuality as well
as psychological individuality), an inflexible method must necessarily
have a deadening effect upon its victims.

The question of whether special technical studies of an arbitrary
nature, such as scale studies, should be extensively used is one which
has been widely debated, and I fear will be debated for years to come.
Let us understand first, there is a wide difference between studying
and practicing. They resemble each other only in so far as they both
require energy and time. Many sincere and ambitious students make the
great mistake of confounding these two very essential factors of
pianistic success. Study and practice really are quite widely removed
from each other, and at the same time they are virtually inseparable.
The real difference lies in the amount and quality of the two elements.
Practice means a large number of repetitions, with a fair amount of
attention to mere correctness of notes, fingering, etc. Under ordinary
circumstances and conditions it usually means a great sacrifice of time
and a comparatively small investment of mentality.

Study, on the contrary, implies first of all mental activity of the
highest and most concentrated type. It _presupposes_ absolute accuracy
in notes, time, fingerings, etc., and implies the closest possible
attention to those things which are generally, though erroneously,
regarded as lying outside of technic, such as tonal beauty, dynamic
shading, rhythmical matters, and the like. Some have the happy gift of
combining practice with study, but this is rare.

Hence, in the question of scale exercises, etc., if the word "study" is
meant in the true sense, I can only say that the study of scales is more
than necessary--it is indispensable. The pedagogical experts of the
world are practically unanimous upon this subject. The injunction,
"study," applies not only to scales, but to all forms of technical
discipline, which only too often are "practiced" without being studied.
I will not deny that mere practicing, as I have defined it, may bring
some little benefit, but this benefit is gained at an enormous
expenditure of time and physical and mental exertion. Oh! the endless
leagues that ambitious fingers have traveled over ivory keys! Only too
often they race like automobiles on a race-course--in a circle--and
after having gone innumerable miles, and spent a tremendous amount of
energy, they arrive at the same point from which they started, exhausted
and worn, with very little to show for their work, and no nearer their
real goal than when they started. The proportion in which mental and
physical activity is compounded, determines, to my mind, the distinction
between practicing and real study. One might also say that the
proportion in which real study enters into the daily work of the student
determines the success of the student.


Study demands that the student shall delve into the minute details of
his art, and master them before he attempts to advance. Only the most
superficial students fail to do this in these days. All of the better
trained teachers insist upon it, and it is hard for the pupil to skim
through on the thinnest possible theoretical ice, as they did in past
years. The separate study of embellishments, for instance, is decidedly
necessary, especially in connection with the embellishments introduced
by the writers of the early eighteenth century.

In the study of embellishments it is vitally important for the student
to remember one or two very important points in connection with his
investigation. One point is the understanding of the nature of the
instrument for which the composer wrote when he had the embellishment in
mind. The instruments of the early eighteenth century were characterized
by a tone so thin and of such short duration that the composers and
players (and it should be remembered that in those days practically all
of the great composers played, and most of the great performers were
composers) had to resort to all kind of subterfuges and tricks to
produce the deception of a prolonged tone. For instance, they had a
method of moving the finger to and fro (sideways) upon a key after it
was struck. Thus they produced a sort of vibrato, not unlike that of
which we have received an overdose in recent years from violinists and
'cellists. This vibrato (German, _Bebung_) was marked like our modern
"shake," thus,


but if we interpret it as a "shake" we commit a grave error. We ought
never to regard it as a "shake," unless it is obviously an integer of
the melody.

The other point to be considered in the study of embellishments is
taste, or rather, let me say, "fashion," for the fashion of those times
which over-indulged in ornamentation and over-loaded everything with it,
from architecture to dress, was by no means an insignificant factor in
music. The point is important because it involves the element of
"concessions" which the composers, voluntarily or from habit, made to
the public of their day. I seriously question the necessity of retaining
these often superabundant embellishments in their entirety, for I
contend that we study antique works on account of their musical
substance and not for the sake of gewgaws and frills which were either
induced by the imperfections of the instrument or by the vitiated taste
of times to which the composer had to yield willy-nilly.

It is, of course, a very difficult and responsible task to determine
what to retain and what to discard. This, to a large extent, must depend
upon what part the ornament plays in the melody of the composition,
whether it is really an integral part or an artificial excrescence. By
all means never discard any embellishment which may serve to emphasize
the melodic curve, or any one which may add to its declamatory
character. A well-educated taste assisted by experience will be a fairly
reliable guide in this matter. However, it is hardly advisable for
amateurs with limited training to attempt any home editing of this kind.

Those embellishments which we do regain should in all cases be executed
as the composer of the piece would desire to hear them executed if he
could become acquainted with the instruments of to-day. This, of course,
places the study of ornamentation with the many auxiliary musical
branches which demand special and separate attention. Johann Sebastian
Bach's son, Phillip Emanuel Bach, realized this, and gave years to the
proper exposition of embellishments. However, the student should realize
that the study of embellishments is only a part of the great whole and
he should not be misled into accepting every little shake or other
little frippery, and then magnifying it into a matter of more vital
importance than the piece itself.


The student should form the habit of determining things for himself. He
will soon find that he will be surrounded with many well-meaning
advisers who, if they have their own way, may serve to confuse him. Some
virtuosos regard their well-meaning admirers and entertainers as the
worst penalties of the virtuoso life. Whether they are or are not must,
of course, depend upon the artist's character. If he accepts their
compliments and courtesies as an expression of the measure of pleasure
_they derived_ from his playing, he has tacitly allowed for that share
in their pleasure which is due to their power of appreciation, and he
can therefore only rejoice in having provided something worthy of it.
The manner of their expression, the observations they make, the very
wording of their compliments will reveal, quickly enough, whether he
has a case of real appreciation before him, or a mere morbid mania to
hobnob with celebrities, or at least with people who by nature of their
professional work are often compelled against their own desires to hold
a more or less exposed position in the public eye. If he deals with the
latter and still allows their compliments to go further than the
physical ear, he must be a man of a character so weak as to make it
doubtful that he will ever produce anything worthy of sincere and
earnest appreciation. More young students are misled by blatant flattery
than anything else. They become convinced that their efforts are
comparable with those of the greatest artist, and the desire for
improvement diminishes in direct ratio to the rate in which their
opinion of their own efforts increases. The student should continually
examine his own work with the same acuteness that he would be expected
to show were he teaching another.




1. Has piano playing progressed since the time of Hummel?

2. How have the changes in the structure of the instrument affected
pianistic progress?

3. Why should students avoid becoming "piano-playing machines"?

4. What must be the sole aim in employing a technical exercise?

5. Will the technic of Liszt ever be excelled?

6. Why are stencil-like methods bad?

7. Is scale study indispensable?

8. Must the student know the characteristics of the instrument for which
the composer wrote?

9. What part did fashion play in the introduction of embellishments?

10. Why should the student determine problems for himself?

[Illustration: JOSEF LHÉVINNE]



Josef Lhévinne is one of the last noted Russian pianists to attain
celebrity in America. At his first appearance in New York he amazed the
critics and music lovers by the virility of his style, the
comprehensiveness of his technic and by his finely trained artistic
judgment. Lhévinne was born at Moscow, in 1874. His father was a
professional musician, playing "all instruments except the piano." It is
not surprising that his four sons became professional musicians. Three
are pianists and one is a flutist. When Josef was four his father
discovered that he had absolute pitch, and encouraged by this sign of
musical capacity placed the child under the instruction of some students
from the conservatory. At six Lhévinne became the pupil of a
Scandinavian teacher named Grisander. When eight he appeared at a
concert and aroused much enthusiasm by his playing. At twelve he became
the pupil of the famous Russian teacher, Wassili Safonoff, at the
conservatory at Moscow, remaining under his instruction for six years.
At the same time his teachers in theory and composition were Taneieff
and Arensky. In 1891 Rubinstein selected him from all the students at
the conservatory to play at a concert given under the famous master's
direction. After that Lhévinne had frequent conferences with the great
pianist, and attributes much of his success to his advice. In 1895 he
won the famous Rubinstein Prize in Berlin. From 1902 to 1906 he was
Professor of Piano at the conservatory at Moscow. One year spent in
military service in Russia proved a compulsory setback in his work, and
was a serious delay in his musical progress. Lhévinne came to America in
1907 and has been here five times since then. His wife is also an
exceptionally fine concert pianist.





"Russia is old, Russia is vast, Russia is mighty. Eight and one-half
million square miles of empire not made up of colonies here and there
all over the world, but one enormous territory comprising nearly one
hundred and fifty million people, of almost as many races as one finds
in the United States, that is Russia. Although the main occupation of
the people is the most peaceful of all labor--agriculture--Russia has
had to deal with over a dozen wars and insurrections during a little
more than a century. In the same time the United States has had but
five. War is not a thing to boast about, but the condition reflects the
unrest that has existed in the vast country of the Czar, and it is not
at all unlikely that this very unrest is responsible for the mental
activity which has characterized the work of so many artists of Russian

Although Russia is one of the most venerable of the European nations,
and although she has absorbed other territory possessed by races even
more venerable than herself, her advance in art, letters and music is
comparatively recent. When Scarlatti, Handel, and Bach were at their
height, Russia, outside of court circles, was still in a state of
serfdom. Tolstoi was born as late as 1828, Turgenieff in 1818 and
Pushkin, the half-negro poet-humorist, was born in 1799. Contemporary
with these writers was Mikhail Ivanovitch Glinka--the first of the great
modern composers of Russia. Still later we come to Wassili Vereschagin,
the best known of the Russian painters, who was not born until 1842. It
may thus be seen that artistic development in the modern sense of the
term has occurred during the lifetime of the American republic. Reaching
back into the centuries, Russia is one of the most ancient of nations,
but considered from the art standpoint it is one of the newest.

The folk songs that sprang from the hearts of the people in sadness and
in joy indicated the unconcealable talent of the Russian people. They
were longing to sing, and music became almost as much a part of their
lives as food. It is no wonder then that we find among the names of the
Russian pianists such celebrities as Anton Rubinstein, Nicholas
Rubinstein, Essipoff, Siloti, Rachmaninoff, Gabrilowitsch, Scriabin, de
Pachmann, Safonoff, Sapellnikoff and many others. It seems as though the
Russian must be endowed by nature with those characteristics which
enable him to penetrate the artistic maze that surrounds the wonders of
music. He comes to music with a new talent, a new gift and finds first
of all a great joy in his work. Much the same might be said of the
Russian violinists and the Russian singers, many of whom have met with
tremendous success.


The Russian parent usually has such a keen love for music that the child
is watched from the very first for some indication that it may have
musical talent. The parent knows how much music brings into the life of
the child and he never looks upon the art as an accomplishment for
exhibition purposes, but rather as a source of great joy. Music is
fostered in the home as a part of the daily existence. Indeed, business
is kept far from the Russian fireside and the atmosphere of most homes
of intelligent people is that of culture rather than commerce. If the
child is really musical the whole household is seized with the ambition
to produce an artist. In my own case, I was taught the rudiments of
music at so early an age that I have no recollection of ever having
learned how to begin. It came to me just as talking does with the
average child. At five I could sing some of the Schumann songs and some
of those of Beethoven.


The Russian child is spared all contact with really bad music. That is,
he hears for the most part either the songs of the people or little
selections from classical or romantic composers that are selected
especially with the view of cultivating his talent. He has practically
no opportunity to come in contact with any music that might be described
as banal. America is a very young country and with the tension that one
sees in American life on all sides there comes a tendency to accept
music that may be most charitably described as "cheap." Very often the
same themes found in this music, skilfully treated, would make worthy
musical compositions. "Rag-time," and by this I refer to the peculiar
rhythm and not to the bad music that Americans have come to class under
this head, has a peculiar fascination for me. There is nothing
objectionable about the unique rhythm, any more than there is anything
iniquitous about the gypsy melodies that have made such excellent
material for Brahms, Liszt and Sarasate. The fault lies in the clumsy
presentation of the matter and its associations with vulgar words. The
rhythm is often fascinating and exhilarating. Perhaps some day some
American composer will glorify it in the Scherzo of a Symphony.

In Russia, teachers lay great stress upon careful grading. Many teachers
of note have prepared carefully graded lists of pieces, suitable to each
stage of advancement. I understand that this same purpose is
accomplished in America by the publication of volumes of the music
itself in different grades, although I have never seen any of these
collections. The Russian teacher of children takes great care that the
advancement of the pupil is not too rapid. The pupil is expected to be
able to perform all the pieces in one grade acceptably before going to
the next grade. I have had numerous American pupils and most of them
seem to have the fault of wanting to advance to a higher step long
before they are really able. This is very wrong, and the pupil who
insists upon such a course will surely realize some day that instead of
advancing rapidly he is really throwing many annoying obstacles directly
in his own path.


Many juvenile instruction books are used in Russia just as in America.
Some teachers, however, find that with pupils starting at an advanced
age it is better to teach the rudiments without a book. This matter of
method is of far greater importance than the average teacher will admit.
The teacher often makes the mistake of living up in the clouds with
Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, and Brahms, never realizing that the pupil is
very much upon the earth, and that no matter how grandly the teacher may
play, the pupil must have practical assistance within his grasp. The
main duty in all elementary work is to make the piano study interesting,
and the teacher must choose the course likely to arouse the most
interest in the particular pupil.


It may surprise the American student to hear that there are really more
opportunities for him to secure public appearances right here in his own
country than in Russia. In fact, it is really very hard to get a start
in Russia unless one is able to attract the attention of the public very
forcibly. In America the standard may not be so high as that demanded in
the musical circles of Russia, but the student has many chances to play
that would never come to him in the old world. There, the only chance
for the young virtuoso is at the conservatory concerts. There are many
music schools in Russia that must content themselves with private
recitals, but the larger conservatories have public concerts of much
importance, concerts that demand the attendance of renowned artists and
compel the serious interest of the press. However, these concerts are
few and far between, and only one student out of many hundreds has a
chance to appear at them.

One singular custom obtains in Russia in reference to concerts. The
pianist coming from some other European country is paid more than the
local pianist. For instance, although I am Russian by birth, I reside in
Germany and receive a higher rate when I play in Russia than does the
resident artist. In fact, this rate is often double. The young virtuoso
in the early stages of his career receives about one hundred roubles an
appearance in Russia, while the mature artist receives from 800 to 1000.
The rouble, while having an exchange value of only fifty cents in United
States currency, has a purchasing value of about one dollar in Russia.


The Russian pianist is always famed for his technical ability. Even the
mediocre artists possess that. The great artists realize that the
mechanical side of piano playing is but the basis, but they would no
sooner think of trying to do without that basis than they would of
dispensing with the beautiful artistic temples which they build upon the
substantial foundation which technic gives to them. The Russian pianists
have earned fame for their technical grasp because they give adequate
study to the matter. Everything is done in the most solid, substantial
manner possible. They build not upon sands, but upon rock. For instance,
in the conservatory examinations the student is examined first upon
technic. If he fails to pass the technical examination he is not even
asked to perform his pieces. Lack of proficiency in technic is taken as
an indication of a lack of the right preparation and study, just as the
lack of the ability to speak simple phrases correctly would be taken as
a lack of preparation in the case of the actor.

"Particular attention is given to the mechanical side of technic, the
exercises, scales and arpeggios. American readers should understand that
the full course at the leading Russian conservatories is one of about
eight or nine years. During the first five years, the pupil is supposed
to be building the base upon which must rest the more advanced work of
the artist. The last three or four years at the conservatory are given
over to the study of master works. Only pupils who manifest great talent
are permitted to remain during the last year. During the first five
years the backbone of the daily work in all Russian schools is scales
and arpeggios. All technic reverts to these simple materials and the
student is made to understand this from his very entrance to the
conservatory. As the time goes on the scales and arpeggios become more
difficult, more varied, more rapid, but they are never omitted from the
daily work. The pupil who attempted complicated pieces without this
preliminary technical drill would be laughed at in Russia. I have been
amazed to find pupils coming from America who have been able to play a
few pieces fairly well, but who wonder why they find it difficult to
extend their musical sphere when the whole trouble lies in an almost
total absence of regular daily technical work systematically pursued
through several years.

"Of course, there must be other technical material in addition to
scales, but the highest technic, broadly speaking, may be traced back to
scales and arpeggios. The practice of scales and arpeggios need never be
mechanical or uninteresting. This depends upon the attitude of mind in
which the teacher places the pupil. In fact, the teacher is largely
responsible if the pupil finds scale practice dry or tiresome. It is
because the pupil has not been given enough to think about in scale
playing, not enough to look out for in nuance, evenness, touch, rhythm,
etc., etc.


"Most musicians of to-day appreciate the fact that in many ways the most
modern effects sought by the composers who seek to produce extremely new
effects have frequently been anticipated in Russia. However, one signal
difference exists between the Russians with ultra-modern ideas and the
composers of other nations. The Russian's advanced ideas are almost
always the result of a development as were those of Wagner, Verdi,
Grieg, Haydn and Beethoven. That is, constant study and investigations
have led them to see things in a newer and more radical way. In the case
of such composers as Debussy, Strauss, Ravel, Reger and others of the
type of musical Philistine it will be observed that to all intents and
purposes, they started out as innovators. Schönberg is the most recent
example. How long will it take the world to comprehend his message if he
really has one? Certainly, at the present time, even the admirers of the
bizarre in music must pause before they confess that they understand the
queer utterings of this newest claimant for the palm of musical
eccentricity. With Debussy, Strauss and others it is different, for the
skilled musician at once recognizes an astonishing facility to produce
effects altogether new and often wonderfully fascinating. With Reger one
seems to be impressed with tremendous effort and little result. Strauss,
however, is really a very great master; so great that it is difficult to
get the proper perspective upon his work at this time. It is safe to say
that all the modern composers of the world have been influenced in one
way or another by the great Russian masters of to-day and yesterday.
Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Cui, Glazounov, Rachmaninov, Moussorgsky,
Arensky, Scriabine and others, have all had a powerful bearing upon the
musical thought of the times. Their virility and character have been due
to the newness of the field in which they worked. The influence of the
compositions of Rubinstein and Glinka can hardly be regarded as Russian
since they were so saturated with European models that they might be
ranked with Gluck, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Meyerbeer far better than with
their fellow-countrymen who have expressed the idiom of Russia with
greater veracity."




1. Is music a part of the daily life of the child in the Russian home?

2. In what does the Russian teacher of children take great care?

3. Why are Russian pianists famed for their technical ability?

4. How are examinations conducted in Russia?

5. What would be thought of the Russian pupil who attempted pieces
without the proper preliminary scale work?

6. Need the practice of scales be mechanical and uninteresting?

7. Why do some pupils find technical studies tiresome?

8. How does Russian musical progress in composition differ from that of
other musical nations?

9. Has Russian music influenced the progress of other musical nations?

10. How may the compositions of Rubinstein and Glinka be regarded?

[Illustration: V. DE PACHMANN]



Vladimir de Pachmann was born at Odessa, Russia, July 27, 1848. His
first teacher was his father, who was a musical enthusiast and a fine
performer upon the violin. The elder de Pachmann was a Professor of Law
at the University of Vienna and at first did not desire to have his son
become anything more than a cultured amateur. In his youth de Pachmann
was largely self taught and aside from hearing great virtuosos at
concerts and modeling his playing to some extent after theirs he had no
teachers until 1866 when he went to the Vienna Conservatory to study
with the then celebrated teacher, Joseph Dachs. Dachs was a concert
pianist of the old school. Academic perfection was his goal and he could
not understand such a pupil as de Pachmann who was able to get results
by what seemed un-academic means. After one year with Dachs de Pachmann
toured Russia with great success and since then has made repeated tours
of the entire musical world. He never gave any serious attention to
musical composition. As an interpreter of the works of Chopin no one in
recent times has ever excelled de Pachmann, but he also gave numerous
recitals showing a great breadth of style in the performances of works
of the other great masters particularly Brahms and Liszt.

(The following conference was conducted in English, German, French and





"Originality in pianoforte playing, what does it really mean? Nothing
more than the interpretation of one's real self instead of the
artificial self which traditions, mistaken advisors and our own natural
sense of mimicry impose upon us. Seek for originality and it is gone
like a gossamer shining in the morning grass. Originality is in one's
self. It is the true voice of the heart. I would enjoin students to
listen to their own inner voices. I do not desire to deprecate teachers,
but I think that many teachers are in error when they fail to encourage
their pupils to form their own opinions.

"I have always sought the individual in myself. When I have found him I
play at my best. I try to do everything in my own individual way. I work
for months to invent, contrive or design new fingerings--not so much for
simplicity, but to enable me to manipulate the keys so that I may
express the musical thought as it seems to me it ought to be expressed.
See my hand, my fingers--the flesh as soft as that of a child, yet
covering muscles of steel. They are thus because I have worked from
childhood to make them thus.

"The trouble with most pupils in studying a piece is that when they
seek individuality and originality, they go about it in the wrong way,
and the result is a studied, stiff, hard performance. Let them listen to
the voice, I say; to the inner voice, the voice which is speaking every
moment of the day, but to which so many shut the ears of their soul.

"Franz Liszt--ah, you see I bow when I mention the name--you never heard
Franz Liszt? Ah, it was the great Liszt who listened--listened to his
inner voice. They said he was inspired. He was simply listening to


"_Nun, passen Sie mal auf!_ I abominate machine teaching. A certain
amount of it may be necessary, but I hate it. It seems so brutal--so
inartistic. Instead of leading the pupil to seek results for himself,
they lay down laws and see that these laws are obeyed, like _gendarmes_.
It is possible, of course, by means of systematic training, to educate a
boy so that he could play a concerto which he could not possibly
comprehend intelligently until he became at least twenty years older;
but please tell, what is the use of such a training? Is it artistic? Is
it musical? Would it not be better to train him to play a piece which he
could comprehend and which he could express in his own way?

"Of course I am not speaking now of the boy Mozarts, the boy Liszts or
other freaks of nature, but of the children who by machine-made methods
are made to do things which nature never intended that they should do.
This forcing method to which some conservatories seem addicted reminds
one of those men who in bygone ages made a specialty of disfiguring the
forms and faces of children, to make dwarfs, jesters and freaks out of
them. Bah!


"Originality in interpretation is of course no more important than
originality in creation. See how the composers who have been the most
original have been the ones who have laid the surest foundation for
permanent fame. Here again true originality has been merely the highest
form of self-expression. _Non ê vero?_ When the composer has sought
originality and contrived to get it by purposely taking out-of-the-way
methods, what has he produced? Nothing but a horrible sham--a structure
of cards which is destroyed by the next wind of fashion.

"Other composers write for all time. They are original because they
listen to the little inner voice, the true source of originality. It is
the same in architecture. Styles in architecture are evolved, not
created, and whenever the architect has striven for bizarre effects he
builds for one decade only. The architects who build for all time are
different and yet how unlike, how individual, how original is the work
of one great architect from that of another.


"The most original of all composers, at least as they appear to me, is
Johann Sebastian Bach. Perhaps this is because he is the most sincere.
Next I should class Beethoven, that great mountain peak to whose heights
so few ever soar. Then would come in order Liszt, Brahms, Schumann,
Chopin, Weber, and Mendelssohn. Schumann more original than Chopin? Yes,
at least so it seems to me. That is, there is something more
distinctive, something more indicative of a great individuality speaking
a new language.

"Compare these men with composers of the order of Abt, Steibelt,
Thalberg, and Donizetti, and you will see at once what I mean about
originality being the basis of permanent art. For over twenty years my
great fondness for mineralogy and for gems led me to neglect in a
measure the development of the higher works of these composers, but I
have realized my error and have been working enormously for years to
attain the technic which their works demand. Some years ago I felt that
technical development must cease at a certain age. This is all idiocy. I
feel that I have now many times the technic I have ever had before and I
have acquired it all in recent years.


"No one could possibly believe more in self-help than I. The student who
goes to a teacher and imagines that the teacher will cast some magic
spell about him which will make him a musician without working, has an
unpleasant surprise in store for him. When I was eighteen I went to
Dachs at the Vienna Conservatory. He bade me play something. I played
the _Rigoletto_ paraphrase of Liszt. Dachs commented favorably upon my
touch but assured me that I was very much upon the wrong track and that
I should study the _Woltemperirtes Klavier_ of Bach. He assured me that
no musical education could be considered complete without an intimate
acquaintance with the Bach fugues, which of course was most excellent

"Consequently I secured a copy of the fugues and commenced work upon
them. Dachs had told me to prepare the first prelude and fugue for the
following lesson. But Dachs was not acquainted with my methods of study.
He did not know that I had mastered the art of concentration so that I
could obliterate every suggestion of any other thought from my mind
except that upon which I was working. He had no estimate of my youthful
zeal and intensity. He did not know that I could not be satisfied unless
I spent the entire day working with all my artistic might and main.

"Soon I saw the wonderful design of the great master of Eisenach. The
architecture of the fugues became plainer and plainer. Each subject
became a friend and each answer likewise. It was a great joy to observe
with what marvelous craftsmanship he had built up the wonderful
structures. I could not stop when I had memorized the first fugue, so I
went to the next and the next and the next.


"At the following lesson I went with my book under my arm. I requested
him to name a fugue. He did, and I placed the closed book on the rack
before me. After I had finished playing he was dumfounded. He said, 'You
come to me to take lessons. You already know the great fugues and I have
taught you nothing.' Thinking that I would find Chopin more difficult to
memorize, he suggested that I learn two of the etudes. I came at the
following lesson with the entire twenty-four memorized. Who could
withstand the alluring charm of the Chopin etudes? Who could resist the
temptation to learn them all when they are once commenced?

"An actor learns page after page in a few days, and why should the
musician go stumbling along for months in his endeavor to learn
something which he could master in a few hours with the proper interest
and the burning concentration without which all music study is a farce?

"It was thus during my entire course with Dachs. He would suggest the
work and I would go off by myself and learn it. I had practically no
method. Each page demanded a different method. Each page presented
entirely new and different technical ideas."


"As a rule piano students do not think deeply enough. They skim over the
really difficult things and no amount of persuasion will make them
believe some very simple things difficult. Take the scale of C Major,
for instance. This scale is by far the most difficult of all. To play it
with true legato, at any desired degree of force or speed, in any
desired rhythm and with any desired touch, is one of the most difficult
achievements in all music. Yet the young pupil will literally turn up
his nose at the scale of C Major and at the same time claim that he is
perfectly competent to play a Beethoven Sonata.

"The scale of C should be learned step by step until the practice habits
are so formed that they will reign supreme while playing all the other
scales. This is the way to secure results--go deep into things. Pearls
lie at the bottom of the sea. Most pupils seem to expect them floating
upon the surface of the water. They never float, and the one who would
have his scales shine with the beauty of splendid gems must first dive
deep for the gems.

"But what is the use of saying all this? To tell it to young pupils
seems to be a waste of words. They will go on making their mistakes and
ignoring the advice of their teachers and mentors until the great
teacher of all--experience--forces them to dive for the hidden riches.


"Every pianist advances at a rate commensurate with his personal
ability. Some pianists are slow in development. Others with wonderful
natural gifts go ahead very quickly. The student will see some pianist
make wonderful progress and will sometimes imitate him without giving
the time or effort to study that the other pianist has given. The artist
will spend months upon a Chopin valse. The student feels injured if he
cannot play it in a day.

"Look, I will play the wonderful Nocturne of Chopin in G, Opus No. 2.
The legato thirds seem simple? Ah, if I could only tell you of the years
that are behind those thirds. The human mind is peculiar in its methods
of mastering the movements of the fingers, and to get a great
masterpiece so that you can have supreme control over it at all times
and under all conditions demands a far greater effort than the ordinary
non-professional music lover can imagine.


"Each note in a composition should be polished until it is as perfect as
a jewel--as perfect as an Indian diamond--those wonderful scintillating,
ever-changing orbs of light. In a really great masterpiece each note has
its place just as the stars, the jewels of heaven, have their places in
their constellations. When a star moves it moves in an orbit that was
created by nature.

"Great musical masterpieces owe their existence to mental forces quite
as miraculous as those which put the heavens into being. The notes in
compositions of this kind are not there by any rule of man. They come
through the ever mystifying source which we call inspiration. Each note
must bear a distinct relation to the whole.

"An artist in jewels in making a wonderful work of art does not toss his
jewels together in any haphazard way. He often has to wait for months to
get the right ruby, or the right pearl, or the right diamond to fit in
the right place. Those who do not know might think one gem just like
another, but the artist knows. He has been looking at gems, examining
them under the microscope. There is a meaning in every facet, in every
shade of color. He sees blemishes which the ordinary eye would never

"Finally he secures his jewels and arranges them in some artistic form,
which results in a masterpiece. The public does not know the reason why,
but it will instantly realize that the work of the artist is in some
mysterious way superior to the work of the bungler. Thus it is that the
mind of the composer works spontaneously in selecting the musical jewels
for the diadem which is to crown him with fame. During the process of
inspiration he does not realize that he is selecting his jewels with
lightning rapidity, but with a highly cultivated artistic judgment. When
the musical jewels are collected and assembled he regards the work as a
whole as the work of another. He does not realize that he has been
going through the process of collecting them. Schubert failed to
recollect some of his own compositions only a few days after he had
written them.


"Now the difficulty with students is that they do not take time to
polish the jewels which the composers have selected with such keen
æsthetic discernment. They think it enough if they merely succeed in
playing the note. How horrible! A machine can play the notes, but there
is only one machine with a soul and that is the artist. To think that an
artist should play only the notes and forget the glories of the
inspiration which came in the composer's mind during the moment of

"Let me play the D flat Chopin Nocturne for you. Please notice how the
notes all bear a relation to each other, how everything is in right
proportion. Do you think that came in a day? Ah, my friend, the
polishing of those jewels took far longer than the polishing of the
Kohinoor. Yet I have heard young girls attempt to play this piece for
me--expecting approbation, of course, and I am certain that they could
not have practiced upon it more than a year or so. They evidently think
that musical masterpieces can be brought into being like the cobwebs
which rise during the night to be torn down by the weight of the dew of
the following morning. _Imbecillità!_


"They play just as their teachers have told them to play, which is of
course good as far as it goes. But they stop at that, and no worthy
teacher expects his pupil to stop with his instruction. The best teacher
is the one who incites his pupil to penetrate deeper and learn new
beauties by himself. A teacher in the highest sense of the word is not a
mint, coining pupils as it were and putting the same stamp of worth upon
each pupil.

"The great teacher is an artist who works in men and women. Every pupil
is different, and he must be very quick to recognize these differences.
He should first of all teach the pupil that there are hundreds of things
which no teacher can ever hope to teach. He must make his pupil keenly
alert to this. There are hundreds of things about my own playing which
are virtually impossible to teach. I would not know how to convey them
to others so that they might be intelligently learned. Such things I
have found out for myself by long and laborious experimentation. The
control of my fifth finger in certain fingerings presented endless
problems which could only be worked out at the keyboard. Such things
give an individuality to the pianist's art, something which cannot be

"Have you ever been in a foreign art gallery and watched the copyists
trying to reproduce the works of the masters? Have you ever noticed that
though they get the form, the design, and even the colors and also that
with all these resemblances there is something which distinguishes the
work of the master from the work of the copyist, something so wonderful
that even a child can see it? You wonder at this? _Pourquoi?_ No one can
learn by copying the secret the master has learned in creating.


"Here we have a figure which brings out very clearly the real meaning of
originality in piano playing and at the same time indicates how every
pupil with or without a teacher should work for himself. Why was the
great Liszt greater than any pianist of his time? Simply because he
found out certain pianistic secrets which Czerny or any of Liszt's
teachers and contemporaries had failed to discover.

"Why has Godowsky--_Ach! Godowsky, der ist wirklich ein grosser
Talent_--how has he attained his wonderful rank? Because he has worked
out certain contrapuntal and technical problems which place him in a
class all by himself. I consider him the greatest master of the
mysteries of counterpoint since the heyday of classical polyphony. Why
does Busoni produce inimitable results at the keyboard? Simply because
he was not satisfied to remain content with the knowledge he had
obtained from others.

"This then is my life secret--work, unending work. I have no other
secrets. I have developed myself along the lines revealed to me by my
inner voice. I have studied myself as well as my art. I have learned to
study mankind through the sciences and through the great literary
treasures, you see; I speak many languages fluently, I have stepped
apace with the crowd, I have drunk the bitter and the sweet from the
chalices of life, but remember, I have never stopped, and to-day I am
just as keenly interested in my progress as I was many years ago as a
youth. The new repertoire of the works of Liszt and Brahms and other
composers demanded a different technic, a bigger technic. What exquisite
joy it was to work for it. Yes, _mio amico_, work is the greatest
intoxication, the greatest blessing, the greatest solace we can know.
Therefore work, work, work. But of all things, my good musical friends
in America, remember the old German proverb:

    "'_Das mag die beste Musik sein
    Wenn Herz und Mund stimmt überein._'"

("Music is best when the heart and lips (mouth) speak together.")




1. What does originality in pianoforte playing really mean?

2. State something of the evils of the forcing methods of training
applied to young children.

3. Have the compositions of the most original composers been the most

4. Name seven of the most original composers for the pianoforte.

5. Must the pupil continually help himself?

6. What is considered the most difficult scale to learn?

7. Is a great virtuoso obliged to practice years in order to secure

8. How may piano study be compared with the polishing of beautiful

9. Tell what characteristics a great teacher must have.

10. What lies at the foundation of pianistic greatness?



Prof. Max Pauer was born in London, England, October 31, 1866, and is
the son of the eminent musical educator, Ernst Pauer, who settled in
England in 1851, and aside from filling many of the foremost positions
in British musical life, also produced a great number of instructive
works, which have been of immeasurable value in disseminating musical
education in England. His work on _Musical Forms_ is known to most all
music students. Prof. Max Pauer studied with his father at the same time
his parent was instructing another famous British-born pianist, Eugen
d'Albert. At the age of fifteen he went to Karlsruhe, where he came
under the instruction of V. Lachner. In 1885 he returned to London and
continued to advance through self-study. In 1887 he received the
appointment at the head of the piano department in the Cologne
Conservatory. This position he retained for ten years, until his
appointment at Stuttgart, first as head teacher in the piano department
and later as director of the School. During this period the organization
of the famous old conservatory has changed totally. The building
occupied was very old and unfit for modern needs. The new conservatory
building is a splendid structure located in one of the most attractive
parts of the city. The old methods, old equipment, old ideas have been
abandoned, and a wholly different atmosphere is said to pervade the
institution, while all that was best in the old _régime_ has been
retained. Prof. Pauer made his _début_ as a virtuoso pianist in London.
Since then he has toured all Europe except the Latin countries. He has
published several compositions for the piano. His present tour of
America is his first in the New World.

[Illustration: MAX PAUER]





"The preservation of one's individuality in playing is perhaps one of
the most difficult, and at the same time one of the most essential tasks
in the study of the pianoforte. The kind of technical study that passes
the student through a certain process, apparently destined to make him
as much like his predecessors as possible, is hardly the kind of technic
needed to make a great artist. Technical ability, after all is said and
done, depends upon nothing more than physiologically correct motion
applied to the artistic needs of the masterpiece to be performed. It
implies a clear understanding of the essentials in bringing out the
composer's idea. The pupil must not be confused with inaccurate
thinking. For instance, we commonly hear of the 'wrist touch.' More
pupils have been hindered through this clumsy terminology than I should
care to estimate. There cannot be a wrist touch since the wrist is
nothing more than a wonderful natural hinge of bone and muscle. With the
pupil's mind centered upon his wrist he is more than likely to stiffen
it and form habits which can only be removed with much difficulty by the
teacher. This is only an instance of one of the loose expressions with
which the terminology of technic is encumbered. When the pupil comes to
recognize the wrist as a _condition_ rather than a thing he will find
that the matter of the tight, cramped wrist will cease to have its
terrors. In fact, as far as touch itself is concerned, the motion of the
arm as a whole is vastly more important than that of the wrist. The
wrist is merely part of the apparatus which communicates the weight of
the arm to the keyboard.


"In my opinion the technical needs of the piano are likely to be far
better understood by the virtuoso pianist than by one who has never been
through the experiences which lead to the concert platform. Please do
not infer that I would say that all teachers should be virtuoso
pianists. I am referring particularly to the makers of methods. I am
continually confronted in my teaching with all manner of absurd ideas in
piano technic. For instance, one pupil will come and exhibit an exercise
which requires her to press hard upon the keyboard after the note is
struck. Just why there should be this additional waste of nerve force
when it can have no possible effect upon the depressed key I have never
been able to find out. There is enough nervous energy expended in
pianoforte study as it is without exacting any more from the pupil.
Pupils are frequently carried away with some technical trick of this
kind like a child with a new toy. They do these things without ever
consulting their own judgment."

The whole idea of technic then is to achieve a position _through_
conscious effort, where one may _dispense with_ conscious effort. Not
until this can be accomplished can we hope for real self-expression in
playing. Nothing is so odious as the obtrusion of technic in any work of
art. Technic is the trellis concealed beneath the foliage and the
blossoms of the bower. When the artist is really great all idea of
technic is forgotten. He must be absorbed by the sheer beauty of his
musical message, his expression of his musical self. In listening to
Rubinstein or to Liszt one forgot all idea of technic, and it must be so
with all great artists in every branch of art in every age. What we
claim when we attend a recital is the individual artist, unrestrained by
mechanical bonds.

Very few of the great masters of pianoforte playing have delved very
deeply into the technical pedagogical side of their art, as for instance
have Tausig, Ehrlich or Joseffy, all of whom have produced remarkable
works on technic. Liszt's contribution to the technic of the instrument
was made through his pieces, not through exercises; his contributions to
the Lebert and Stark Stuttgart Conservatory method consist of two
well-known concert studies. Personally, I am opposed to set methods,
that is, those that pretend to teach the pupil factory-wise. Of what
value is the teacher if he is not to apply his knowledge with the
discretion that comes with experience?

Deppe's influence to this day is far more theoretical than practical.
This does not imply that Deppe did not evolve some very useful ideas in
pianoforte work. All of present technic is a common heritage from many
investigators and innovators. Pianoforte teaching, as a matter of fact,
is one of the most difficult of all tasks. It is easy to teach it along
conventional "cut and dried" method lines, but the teachers of real
importance are those who have the ability, the gift, the inclination and
the experience to make a brand new method for every pupil.

In order to develop the means to communicate one's message through one's
art with the greatest effectiveness, there must be a mastery of the
delicate balance between natural tendencies and discipline. If the
student is subjected to too much discipline, stiff, angular results may
be expected. If the student is permitted to play with the flabby
looseness which some confuse with natural relaxation, characterless
playing must invariably result. The great desideratum is the fine
equilibrium between nature and discipline. This may seem an unnecessary
observation to some, but many students never seem to be able to strike
the happy medium between marching over the keys like a regiment of
wooden soldiers, or crawling over them like a lot of spineless


There is a certain "something" which defines the individuality of the
player, and it seems well nigh impossible to say just what this
something is. Let us by all means preserve it. Imagine the future of
music if every piece were to be played in the selfsame way by every
player like a series of ordinary piano playing machines. The remarkable
apparatus for recording the playing of virtuosos, and then reproducing
it through a mechanical contrivance, is somewhat of a revelation to the
pianist who tries it for the first time. In the records of the playing
of artists whose interpretations are perfectly familiar to me, there
still remain unquestioned marks of individuality. Sometimes these marks
are small shortcomings, but which, nevertheless, are so slight that they
do no more than give character. Look at a painting by Van Dyke, and then
at one upon a similar subject by Rembrandt, and you will realize how
these little characteristics influence the whole outward aspect of an
art work. Both Van Dyke and Rembrandt were Dutchmen, and, in a sense,
contemporaries. They used pigments and brushes, canvas and oil, yet the
masterpieces of each are readily distinguishable by any one slightly
familiar with their styles. It is precisely the same with pianists. All
of us have arms, fingers, muscles and nerves, but what we have to say
upon the keyboard should be an expression of our own minds, not a
replica of some stereotyped model.

When I listened to the first record of my own playing, I heard things
which seemed unbelievable to me. Was I, after years of public playing,
actually making mistakes that I would be the first to condemn in any one
of my own pupils? I could hardly believe my ears, and yet the
unrelenting machine showed that in some places I had failed to play both
hands exactly together, and had been guilty of other errors no less
heinous, because they were trifling. I also learned in listening to my
own playing, as reproduced, that I had unconsciously brought out certain
nuances, emphasized different voices and employed special accents
without the consciousness of having done so. Altogether it made a most
interesting study for me, and it became very clear that the personality
of the artist must permeate everything that he does. When his technic is
sufficiently great it permits him to speak with fluency and
self-expression, enhancing the value of his work a thousandfold.


"It would be a great mistake for the student to imagine that by merely
acquiring finger dexterity and a familiarity with a certain number of
pieces he may consider himself proficient. There is vastly more to
piano-playing than that. He must add to his digital ability and his
repertoire and comprehensive grasp of the principles of music itself.
The pupil should strive to accomplish as much as possible through mental
work. The old idea of attempting to play every single study written by
Czerny, or Cramer or the other prolific writers of studies is a huge
mistake. A judicious selection from the works of these pedagogical
writers is desirable but certainly not all of them. They are at best
only the material with which one must work for a certain aim, and that
aim should be high artistic results. It should be realized by all
students and teachers that this same study material, excellent in
itself, may actually produce bad results if not properly practiced. I
have repeatedly watched students practicing industriously, but becoming
worse and worse and actually cultivating faults rather than approaching
perfection. The student must always remember that his fingers are only
the outward organs of his inner consciousness, and while his work may be
mechanical in part he should never think mechanically. The smallest
technical exercise must have its own direction, its own aim. Nothing
should be done without some definite purpose in view. The student should
have pointed out to him just what the road he must travel is, and where
it leads to. The ideal teacher is the one who gives the pupil something
to take home and work out at home, not the one who works out the
student's lesson for him in the class room. The teacher's greatest
mission is to raise the consciousness of the pupil until he can
appreciate his own powers for developing an idea.


"Oh the horror of the conventional, the absolutely right, the human
machine who cannot make an error! The balance between the frigidly
correct and the abominably loose is a most difficult one to maintain. It
is, of course, desirable that the young student pass through a certain
period of strict discipline, but if this discipline succeeds in making
an automaton, of what earthly use is it? Is it really necessary to
instruct our little folks to think that everything must be done in a
"cut and dried" manner? Take the simple matter of time, for instance.
Listen to the playing of most young pupils and you will hear nothing but
a kind of "railroad train" rhythm. Every measure bumps along precisely
like the last one. The pupil has been taught to observe the bar signs
like stone walls partitioning the whole piece off into sections. The
result as a whole is too awful to describe. As a matter of fact, the bar
signs, necessary as they are as guide-posts when we are learning the
elements of notation, are often the means of leading the poorly trained
pupil to a wholly erroneous interpretation. For instance, in a passage
like the following from Beethoven's F minor Sonata, Opus 2, No. 1
(dedicated to Joseph Haydn), Beethoven's idea must have been the


before it was divided into measures by bar lines as now found printed:


The trouble with the pupil in playing the above is that he seems
inclined to observe the bar lines very carefully and lose all idea of
the phrase as a whole. Music should be studied by phrases, not by
measures. In studying a poem you strive first of all to get the poet's
meaning as expressed in his phrases and in his sentences; you do not try
to mumble a few words in an arbitrary manner. The pupil who never gets
over the habit of playing in measures, who never sees the composer's
message as a whole rather than in little segments can never play
artistically. Many students fail to realize that in some pieces it is
actually misleading to count the beats in the measure. The rhythm of the
piece as a whole is often marked by a series of measures, and one must
count the measures as units rather than the notes in the measures. For
instance, the following section from a Chopin Valse, Opus 64, No. 1
(sometimes called the _Minute Valse_), may best be counted by counting
the measures thus:


Every pupil knows that the first beat in each ordinary measure of
four-quarter time carries a strong accent, the third beat the next
strongest, and the second and fourth beats still weaker accents. In a
series of measures which may be counted in fours, it will be found that
the same arrangement often prevails. The pupil will continually meet
opportunities to study his work along broader lines, and the wonderful
part of it all is that music contains so much that is interesting and
surprising, that there need be no end to his investigations. Every page
from a master work that has been studied for years is likely to contain
some unsolved problem if the student can only see it right and hunt for




1. Define technical ability.

2. Describe some useless technical tricks.

3. Do great pianists devote much time to writing upon piano technic?

4. State the evils of too much discipline.

5. How may machine-like playing be avoided?

6. State how faults are most frequently developed.

7. Why must one seek to avoid conventions?

8. Should music be studied by phrases or measures?

9. Play the Chopin Valse Opus 64, No. 1, indicating how it may best be

10. Where must the student find his problems?

[Illustration: S. V. RACHMANINOFF]



Sergei Vassilievitch Rachmaninoff was born at Novgorod, Russia, April
1st, 1873. At the Moscow Conservatory he was placed under the
instruction of Siloti who had been one of the favorite Russian pupils of
Franz Liszt. This master imparted a very facile technic to Rachmaninoff
and made him so thoroughly acquainted with the best literature of the
instrument that his compositions became recognized at once as those of a
thorough master of the keyboard. His teacher in composition was Arensky,
who in addition to his skill in the technic of the art had a fund of
melody which is a delight to all those who know his works. In 1891
Rachmaninoff won the great gold medal at the Moscow Conservatory and his
work as a composer commenced to attract favorable attention throughout
all Europe. In addition to this his ability as a pianist attracted wide
notice and his tours have been very successful. His compositions have
been cast in many different forms from opera to songs and piano pieces.
His most popular work is _the Prelude in C Sharp Minor_ which is in the
repertoire of all advanced students. His appointment as Supervisor
General of the Imperial conservatories of Russia was one of the highest
distinctions that could be conferred in the land of the Czar. The
correct pronunciation of the name as given by the composer is

(The following conference was conducted in German.)





It is a seemingly impossible task to define the number of attributes of
really excellent pianoforte playing. By selecting ten important
characteristics, however, and considering them carefully, one at a time,
the student may learn much that will give him food for thought. After
all, one can never tell in print what can be communicated by the living
teacher. In undertaking the study of a new composition it is highly
important to gain a conception of the work as a whole. One must
comprehend the main design of the composer. Naturally, there are
technical difficulties which must be worked out, measure by measure, but
unless the student can form some idea of the work in its larger
proportions his finished performance may resemble a kind of musical
patchwork. Behind every composition is the architectural plan of the
composer. The student should endeavor, first of all, to discover this
plan, and then he should build in the manner in which the composer would
have had him build.

You ask me, "How can the student form the proper conception of the work
as a whole?" Doubtless the best way is to hear it performed by some
pianist whose authority as an interpreter cannot be questioned. However,
many students are so situated that this course is impossible. It is also
often quite impossible for the teacher, who is busy teaching from
morning to night, to give a rendering of the work that would be
absolutely perfect in all of its details. However, one can gain
something from the teacher who can, by his genius, give the pupil an
idea of the artistic demands of the piece.

If the student has the advantage of hearing neither the virtuoso nor the
teacher he need not despair, if he has talent. Talent! Ah, that is the
great thing in all musical work. If he has talent he will see with the
eyes of _talent_--that wonderful force which penetrates all artistic
mysteries and reveals the truths as nothing else possibly can. Then he
grasps, as if by intuition, the composer's intentions in writing the
work, and, like the true interpreter, communicates these thoughts to his
audience in their proper form.


It goes without saying, that technical proficiency should be one of the
first acquisitions of the student who would become a fine pianist. It is
impossible to conceive of fine playing that is not marked by clean,
fluent, distinct, elastic technic. The technical ability of the
performer should be of such a nature that it can be applied immediately
to all the artistic demands of the composition to be interpreted. Of
course, there may be individual passages which require some special
technical study, but, generally speaking, technic is worthless unless
the hands and the mind of the player are so trained that they can
encompass the principal difficulties found in modern compositions.

In the music schools of Russia great stress is laid upon technic.
Possibly this may be one of the reasons why some of the Russian pianists
have been so favorably received in recent years. The work in the leading
Russian conservatories is almost entirely under supervision of the
Imperial Musical Society. The system is elastic in that, although all
students are obliged to go through the same course, special attention is
given to individual cases. Technic, however, is at first made a matter
of paramount importance. All students must become technically
proficient. None are excused. It may be interesting to hear something of
the general plan followed in the Imperial music schools of Russia. The
course is nine years in duration. During the first five years the
student gets most of his technical instruction from a book of studies by
Hanon, which is used very extensively in the conservatories. In fact,
this is practically the only book of strictly technical studies
employed. All of the studies are in the key of "C." They include scales,
arpeggios, and other forms of exercises in special technical designs.

At the end of the fifth year an examination takes place. This
examination is twofold. The pupil is examined first for proficiency in
technic, and later for proficiency in artistic playing--pieces,
studies, etc. However, if the pupil fails to pass the technical
examination he is not permitted to go ahead. He knows the exercises in
the book of studies by Hanon so well that he knows each study by number,
and the examiner may ask him, for instance, to play study 17, or 28, or
32, etc. The student at once sits at the keyboard and plays.

Although the original studies are all in the key of "C," he may be
requested to play them in any other key. He has studied them so
thoroughly that he should be able to play them in any key desired. A
metronomic test is also applied. The student knows that he will be
expected to play the studies at certain rates of speed. The examiner
states the speed and the metronome is started. The pupil is required,
for instance, to play the E flat major scale with the metronome at 120,
eight notes to the beat. If he is successful in doing this, he is marked
accordingly, and other tests are given.

Personally, I believe this matter of insisting upon a thorough technical
knowledge is a very vital one. The mere ability to play a few pieces
does not constitute musical proficiency. It is like those music boxes
which possess only a few tunes. The student's technical grasp should be

Later the student is given advanced technical exercises, like those of
Tausig. Czerny is also very deservedly popular. Less is heard of the
studies of Henselt, however, notwithstanding his long service in
Russia. Henselt's studies are so beautiful that they should rather be
classed with pieces like the studies of Chopin.


An artistic interpretation is not possible if the student does not know
the laws underlying the very important subject of phrasing.
Unfortunately many editions of good music are found wanting in proper
phrase markings. Some of the phrase signs are erroneously applied.
Consequently the only safe way is for the student to make a special
study of this important branch of musical art. In the olden days phrase
signs were little used. Bach used them very sparingly. It was not
necessary to mark them in those times, for every musician who counted
himself a musician could determine the phrases as he played. But a
knowledge of the means of defining phrases in a composition is by no
means all-sufficient. Skill in executing the phrases is quite as
important. The real musical feeling must exist in the mind of the
composer or all the knowledge of correct phrasing he may possess will be


If a fine musical feeling, or sensitiveness, must control the execution
of the phrases, the regulation of the tempo demands a kind of musical
ability no less exacting. Although in most cases the tempo of a given
composition is now indicated by means of the metronomic markings, the
judgment of the player must also be brought frequently into requisition.
He cannot follow the tempo marks blindly, although it is usually unsafe
for him to stray very far from these all-important musical sign-posts.
The metronome itself must not be used "with closed eyes," as we should
say it in Russia. The player must use discretion. I do not approve of
continual practice with the metronome. The metronome is designed to set
the time, and if not abused is a very faithful servant. However, it
should only be used for this purpose. The most mechanical playing
imaginable can proceed from those who make themselves slaves to this
little musical clock, which was never intended to stand like a ruler
over every minute of the student's practice time.


Too few students realize that there is continual and marvelous
opportunity for contrast in playing. Every piece is a piece unto itself.
It should, therefore, have its own peculiar interpretation. There are
performers whose playing seems all alike. It is like the meals served in
some hotels. Everything brought to the table has the same taste. Of
course, a successful performer must have a strong individuality, and all
of his interpretations must bear the mark of this individuality, but at
the same time he should seek variety constantly. A Chopin ballade must
have quite a different interpretation from a Scarlatti Capriccio. There
is really very little in common between a Beethoven Sonata and a Liszt
Rhapsody. Consequently, the student must seek to give each piece a
different character. Each piece must stand apart as possessing an
individual conception, and if the player fails to convey this impression
to his audience, he is little better than some mechanical instrument.
Josef Hofmann has the ability of investing each composition with an
individual and characteristic charm that has always been very delightful
to me.


The pedal has been called the soul of the piano. I never realized what
this meant until I heard Anton Rubinstein, whose playing seemed so
marvelous to me that it beggars description. His mastery of the pedal
was nothing short of phenomenal. In the last movement of the B flat
minor sonata of Chopin he produced pedal effects that can never be
described, but for any one who remembers them they will always be
treasured as one of the greatest of musical joys. The pedal is the study
of a lifetime. It is the most difficult branch of higher pianoforte
study. Of course, one may make rules for its use, and the student should
carefully study all these rules, but, at the same time, these rules may
often be skilfully broken in order to produce some very charming
effects. The rules represent a few known principles that are within the
grasp of our musical intelligence. They may be compared with the planet
upon which we live, and about which we know so much. Beyond the rules,
however, is the great universe--the celestial system which only the
telescopic artistic sight of the great musician can penetrate. This,
Rubinstein, and some others, have done, bringing to our mundane vision
undreamt-of beauties which they alone could perceive.


While we must respect the traditions of the past, which for the most
part are very intangible to us because they are only to be found in
books, we must, nevertheless, not be bound down by convention.
Iconoclasm is the law of artistic progress. All great composers and
performers have built upon the ruins of conventions that they themselves
have destroyed. It is infinitely better to create than to imitate.
Before we can create, however, it is well to make ourselves familiar
with the best that has preceded us. This applies not only to
composition, but to pianoforte playing as well. The master pianists,
Rubinstein and Liszt, were both marvelously broad in the scope of their
knowledge. They knew the literature of the pianoforte in all its
possible branches. They made themselves familiar with every possible
phase of musical advancement. This is the reason for their gigantic
prominence. Their greatness was not the hollow shell of acquired
technic. THEY KNEW. Oh, for more students in these days with the genuine
thirst for real musical knowledge, and not merely with the desire to
make a superficial exhibition at the keyboard!


I am told that some teachers lay a great deal of stress upon the
necessity for the pupil learning the source of the composer's
inspiration. This is interesting, of course, and may help to stimulate a
dull imagination. However, I am convinced that it would be far better
for the student to depend more upon his real musical understanding. It
is a mistake to suppose that the knowledge of the fact that Schubert was
inspired by a certain poem, or that Chopin was inspired by a certain
legend, could ever make up for a lack of the real essentials leading to
good pianoforte playing. The student must see, first of all, the main
points of musical relationship in a composition. He must understand what
it is that gives the work unity, cohesion, force, or grace, and must
know how to bring out these elements. There is a tendency with some
teachers to magnify the importance of auxiliary studies and minimize the
importance of essentials. This course is wrong, and must lead to
erroneous results.


The virtuoso must have some far greater motive than that of playing for
gain. He has a mission, and that mission is to educate the public. It is
quite as necessary for the sincere student in the home to carry on this
educational work. For this reason it is to his advantage to direct his
efforts toward pieces which he feels will be of musical educational
advantage to his friends. In this he must use judgment and not overstep
their intelligence too far. With the virtuoso it is somewhat different.
He expects, and even demands, from his audience a certain grade of
musical taste, a certain degree of musical education. Otherwise he would
work in vain. If the public would enjoy the greatest in music they must
hear good music until these beauties become evident.

It would be useless for the virtuoso to attempt a concert tour in the
heart of Africa. The virtuoso is expected to give his best, and he
should not be criticized by audiences that have not the mental capacity
to appreciate his work. The virtuosos look to the students of the world
to do their share in the education of the great musical public. Do not
waste your time with music that is trite or ignoble. Life is too short
to spend it wandering in the barren Saharas of musical trash.


In all good pianoforte playing there is a vital spark that seems to make
each interpretation of a masterpiece--a living thing. It exists only for
the moment, and cannot be explained. For instance, two pianists of equal
technical ability may play the same composition. With one the playing is
dull, lifeless and sapless, with the other there is something that is
indescribably wonderful. His playing seems fairly to quiver with life.
It commands interest and inspires the audience. What is this vital spark
that brings life to mere notes? In one way it may be called the intense
artistic interest of the player. It is that astonishing thing known as

When the composition was originally written the composer was
unquestionably inspired; when the performer finds the same joy that the
composer found at the moment the composition came into existence, then
something new and different enters his playing. It seems to be
stimulated and invigorated in a manner altogether marvelous. The
audience realizes this instantly, and will even sometimes forgive
technical imperfections if the performance is inspired. Rubinstein was
technically marvelous, and yet he admitted making mistakes.
Nevertheless, for every possible mistake he may have made, he gave, in
return, ideas and musical tone pictures that would have made up for a
million mistakes. When Rubinstein was overexact his playing lost
something of its wonderful charm. I remember that upon one occasion he
was playing Balakireff's _Islamei_ at a concert. Something distracted
his attention and he apparently forgot the composition entirely; but he
kept on improvising in the style of the piece, and after about four
minutes the remainder of the composition came back to him and he played
it to the end correctly. This annoyed him greatly and he played the next
number upon the program with the greatest exactness, but, strange to
say, it lost the wonderful charm of the interpretation of the piece in
which his memory had failed him. Rubinstein was really incomparable,
even more so perhaps because he was full of human impulse and his
playing very far removed from mechanical perfection.

While, of course, the student must play the notes, and all of the notes,
in the manner and in the time in which the composer intended that they
should be played, his efforts should by no means stop with notes. Every
individual note in a composition is important, but there is something
quite as important as the notes, and that is the soul. After all, the
vital spark is the soul. The soul is the source of that higher
expression in music which cannot be represented in dynamic marks. The
soul feels the need for the _crescendos_ and _diminuendos_ intuitively.
The mere matter of the duration of a pause upon a note depends upon its
significance, and the soul of the artist dictates to him just how long
such a pause should be held. If the student resorts to mechanical rules
and depends upon them absolutely, his playing will be soulless.

Fine playing requires much deep thought away from the keyboard. The
student should not feel that when the notes have been played his task is
done. It is, in fact, only begun. He must make the piece a part of
himself. Every note must awaken in him a kind of musical consciousness
of his real artistic mission.




1. Should the student gain an idea of the work as a whole before
attempting detailed study?

2. How is the matter of digital technic regarded in Russia?

3. What part should the study of phrasing play in modern music

4. State how contrast in playing may be accomplished.

5. What may be considered the most difficult branch of pianoforte study?

6. What is the law of artistic progress?

7. How must real musical understanding be achieved?

8. What is the vital spark in piano playing?

9. Can one be overexact in playing?

10. What is the effect of too many mechanical rules?

[Illustration: A. REISENAUER]



Alfred Reisenauer was born at Königsberg, Germany, Nov. 1st, 1863. He
was a pupil of his mother, Louis Köhler, and Franz Liszt. His début as a
pianist was made in Rome, in 1881, at the palace of Cardinal Hohenlohe.
After a concert tour in Germany and a visit to England he studied Law
for one year at the Leipsic University. Not finding this altogether to
his liking he resumed his concert work and commenced a long series of
tours which included all the nooks and corners of the world where one
might find a musical public. He was an accomplished linguist, speaking
many languages very fluently. His work as a composer was not significant
but in certain branches of pianoforte playing he rose to exceptional
heights. He died October 31st, 1907.




"I can never thank my mother enough for the splendid start she gave me
in my early musical life. She was a wonderful woman and a veritable
genius as a teacher. See, I have here to-day on my piano a copy of the
Schumann Sonata in F sharp minor which she herself used and which she
played with a feeling I have never heard equaled. There is one thing in
particular for which I am everlastingly grateful to her. Before I was
taught anything of notes or of the piano keyboard, she took me aside one
day and explained in the simple and beautiful tongue which only a mother
employs in talking to her child, the wonderful natural relationships of
tones used in making music. Whether this was an inspiration, an
intuition, or a carefully thought out plan for my benefit, I cannot
tell, but my mother put into practice what I have since come to consider
the most important and yet the most neglected step in the education of
the child. The fault lies in the fact that most teachers at the start do
not teach music, rather musical notation and the peculiarities of the

Nothing could possibly be more stultifying to the musical instinct of
the child. For instance, the plan generally pursued is to let the child
grope over the white keys of the piano keyboard and play exercises in
the scale of C, until he begins to feel that the whole musical world
lies in the scale of C, with the scales of F and G as the frontiers. The
keys of F sharp, B, D flat and others are looked upon as tremendously
difficult and the child mind reasons with its own peculiar logic that
these keys being so much less used, must, of course be less important.
The black keys upon the keyboard are a '_terra incognita_.' Consequently
at the very start the child has a radically incorrect view of what music
really is.

"Before notation existed,--before keyboards were invented,--people sang.
Before a child knows anything of notation or a keyboard, it sings. It is
following its natural, musical instinct. Notation and keyboards are
simply symbols of music--cages in which the beautiful bird is caught.
They are not music any more than the alphabet is literature.
Unfortunately, our system of musical symbols and the keyboard itself are
very complex. For the young child it is as difficult as are Calculus and
Algebra for his older brother. As a matter of fact, the keys of F sharp,
B, and D flat major, etc., are only difficult because fate has made them
so. It would have served the musical purpose just as well if the pitch
of the instruments employed had been adjusted so that what is now F
sharp, would be the key of C major. That, however, would not have
simplified matters and we have to receive our long established musical
notation until we can exchange it for a better one.

"At a very early age, I was taken to Franz Liszt by my mother. Liszt
immediately perceived my natural talent and strongly advised my mother
to continue my musical work. At the same time he said 'As a child I was
exposed to criticism as a Wunderkind (prodigy), through the ignorance of
my parents, long before I was properly prepared to meet the inevitable
consequences of public appearance. This did incalculable damage to me.
Let your child be spared such a fate. My own experience was disastrous.
Do not let your son appear in public until he is a mature artist.'

"My first teacher, Louis Köhler, was an artist and a great artist, but
he was an artist-teacher rather than an artist-pianist. Compared with
many of his contemporaries his playing suffered immensely, but he made
an art of teaching as few other men have done. He did not play for his
pupils to any extent, nor did he ask them to imitate him in any way. His
playing was usually confined to general illustrations and suggestions.
By these means the individuality of his pupils was preserved and
permitted to develop, so that while the pupil always had an excellent
idea of the authoritative traditions governing the interpretation of a
certain piece, there was nothing that suggested the stilted or wooden
performance of the brainless mimic. He taught his pupils to think. He
was an indefatigable student and thinker himself. He had what many
teachers would have considered peculiar ideas upon technic.


"While he invented many little means whereby technical difficulties
could be more readily overcome than by the existing plan he could not be
called in any way radical. He believed in carrying the technical side of
a pupil's education up to a certain point along more or less
conventional lines. When the pupil reached that point he found that he
was upon a veritable height of mechanical supremacy. Thereafter Köhler
depended upon the technical difficulties presented in the literature of
the instrument to continue the technical efficiency acquired. In other
words, the acquisition of a technic was solely to enable the pupil to
explore the world of music equipped in such a way that he was not to be
overcome by anything. The everlasting continuance of technical exercises
was looked upon by Köhler as a ridiculous waste of time and a great

"I also hold this opinion. Let us suppose that I were to sit at the
piano for six or seven hours and do nothing but play conventional finger
exercises. What happens to my soul, psychologically considered, during
those hours spent upon exercises which no man or woman could possibly
find anything other than an irritation? Do not the same exercises occur
in thousands of pieces but in such connection that the mind is
interested? Is it necessary for the advanced pianist to punish himself
with a kind of mental and physical penance more trying, perhaps, than
the devices of the medieval ascetics or the oriental priests of to-day?
No, technic is the Juggernaut which has ground to pieces more musicians
than one can imagine. It produces a stiff, wooden touch and has a
tendency to induce the pianist to believe that the art of pianoforte
playing depends upon the continuance of technical exercises whereas the
acquisition of technical ability should be regarded as the beginning and
not the end. When pupils leave your schools you say that they are having
a 'Commencement.' The acquisition of a technic is only the commencement,
unfortunately too many consider it the end. This may perhaps be the
reason why our conservatories turn out so many bright and proficient
young people who in a few years are buried in oblivion.


"When I had reached a certain grade of advancement it was my great
fortune to become associated with the immortal Franz Liszt. I consider
Liszt the greatest man I have ever met. By this I mean that I have never
met, in any other walk of life, a man with the mental grasp, splendid
disposition and glorious genius. This may seem a somewhat extravagant
statement. I have met many, many great men, rulers, jurists, authors,
scientists, teachers, merchants and warriors, but never have I met a man
in any position whom I have not thought would have proved the inferior
of Franz Liszt, had Liszt chosen to follow the career of the man in
question. Liszt's personality can only be expressed by one word,
'colossal.' He had the most generous nature of any man I have ever met.
He had aspirations to become a great composer, greater than his own
measure of his work as a composer had revealed to him. The dire position
of Wagner presented itself. He abandoned his own ambitions--ambitions
higher than those he ever held toward piano virtuosity--abandoned them
completely to champion the difficult cause of the great Wagner. What
Liszt suffered to make this sacrifice, the world does not know. But no
finer example of moral heroism can be imagined. His conversations with
me upon the subject were so intimate that I do not care to reveal one


His generosity and personal force in his work with the young artists he
assisted are hard to describe. You ask me whether he had a certain
method. I reply, he abhorred methods in the modern sense of the term.
His work was eclectic in the highest sense. In one way he could not be
considered a teacher at all. He charged no fees and had irregular and
somewhat unsystematic classes. In another sense he was the greatest of
teachers. Sit at the piano and I will indicate the general plan pursued
by Liszt at a lesson. Reisenauer is a remarkable and witty mimic of
people he desires to describe. The present writer sat at the piano and
played at some length through several short compositions, eventually
coming to the inevitable "Chopin Valse, Op. 69, No. 1, in A flat
major." In the meanwhile, Reisenauer had gone to another room and, after
listening patiently, returned, imitating the walk, facial expression and
the peculiar guttural snort characteristic of Liszt in his later years.
Then followed a long "kindly sermon" upon the emotional possibilities of
the composition. This was interrupted with snorts and went with
kaleidoscopic rapidity from French to German and back again many, many
times. Imitating Liszt he said,

"First of all we must arrive at the very essence of the thing; the germ
that Chopin chose to have grow and blossom in his soul. It is, roughly
considered, this:


Chopin's next thought was, no doubt:


But with his unerring good taste and sense of symmetry he writes it so:


Now consider the thing in studying it and while playing it from the
composer's attitude. By this I mean that during the mental process of
conception, before the actual transference of the thought to paper, the
thought itself is in a nebulous condition. The composer sees it in a
thousand lights before he actually determines upon the exact form he
desires to perpetuate. For instance, this theme might have gone through
Chopin's mind much after this fashion:


"The main idea being to reach the embryo of Chopin's thought and by
artistic insight divine the connotation of that thought, as nearly as
possible in the light of the treatment Chopin has given it.

"It is not so much the performer's duty to play mere notes and dynamic
marks, as it is for him to make an artistic estimate of the composer's
intention and to feel that during the period of reproduction he
simulates the natural psychological conditions which affected the
composer during the actual process of composition. In this way the
composition becomes a living entity--a tangible resurrection of the soul
of the great Chopin. Without such penetrative genius a pianist is no
more than a mere machine and with it he may develop into an artist of
the highest type."


Reisenauer's attitude toward the piano is unique and interesting.
Musicians are generally understood to have an affectionate regard for
their instruments, almost paternal. Not so with Reisenauer. He even goes
so far as to make this statement: "I have aways been drawn to the piano
by a peculiar charm I have never been able to explain to myself. I feel
that I must play, play, play, play, play. It has become a second nature
to me. I have played so much and so long that the piano has become a
part of me. Yet I am never free from the feeling that it is a constant
battle with the instrument, and even with my technical resources I am
not able to express all the beauties I hear in the music. While music is
my very life, I nevertheless hate the piano. I play because I can't help
playing and because there is no other instrument which can come as near
imitating the melodies and the harmonies of the music I feel. People say
wherever I go, 'Ah, he is a master.' What absurdity! I the master? Why,
there is the master (pointing to the piano), I am only the slave."


An interesting question that frequently arises in musical circles
relates to the future possibilities of the art of composition in its
connection with the pianoforte. Not a few have some considerable
apprehension regarding the possible dearth of new melodic material and
the technical and artistic treatment of such material. "I do not think
that there need be any fear of a lack of original melodic material or
original methods of treating such material. The possibilities of the art
of musical composition have by no means been exhausted. While I feel
that in a certain sense, very difficult to illustrate with words, one
great 'school' of composition for the pianoforte ended with Liszt and
the other in Brahms, nevertheless I can but prophesy the arising of many
new and wonderful schools in the future. I base my prophecy upon the
premises of frequent similar conditions during the history of musical

"Nevertheless, it is yet my ambition to give a lengthy series of
recitals, with programs arranged to give a chronological aspect of all
the great masterpieces in music. I hope to be enabled to do this before
I retire. It is part of a plan to circle the world in a manner that has
not yet been done." When asked whether these programs were to resemble
Rubinstein's famous historical recitals in London, years ago, he
replied: "They will be more extensive than the Rubinstein recitals. The
times make such a series possible now, which Rubinstein would have
hesitated to give."

As to American composers, Reisenauer is so thoroughly and
enthusiastically won over by MacDowell that he has not given the other
composers sufficient attention to warrant a critical opinion. I found
upon questioning that he had made a genuinely sincere effort to find
new material in America, but he said that outside of MacDowell, he found
nothing but indifferently good salon-music. With the works of several
American composers he was, however, unfamiliar. He has done little or
nothing himself as a composer and declared that it was not his forte.


"I find that American musical taste is in many ways astonishing. Many
musicians who came to America prior to the time of Thomas and Damrosch
returned to Europe with what were, no doubt, true stories of the musical
conditions in America at that time. These stories were given wide
circulation in Europe, and it is difficult for Europeans to understand
the cultured condition of the American people at the present time.
America can never thank Dr. Leopold Damrosch and Theodore Thomas enough
for their unceasing labors. Thanks to the impetus that they gave the
movement, it is now possible to play programs in almost any American
city that are in no sense different from those one is expected to give
in great European capitals. The status of musical education in the
leading American cities is surprisingly high. Of course the commercial
element necessarily affects it to a certain extent; but in many cases
this is not as injurious as might be imagined. The future of music in
America seems very roseate to me and I can look back to my American
concert tours with great pleasure.


"One of the great difficulties, however, in concert touring in America
is the matter of enormous distances. I often think that American
audiences rarely hear great pianists at their best. Considering the
large amounts of money involved in a successful American tour and the
business enterprise which must be extremely forceful to make such a tour
possible, it is not to be wondered that enormous journeys must be made
in ridiculously short time. No one can imagine what this means to even a
man of my build." (Reisenauer is a wonderfully strong and powerful man.)
"I have been obliged to play in one Western city one night and in an
Eastern city the following night. Hundreds of miles lay between them. In
the latter city I was obliged to go directly from the railroad depot to
the stage of the concert hall, hungry, tired, travel worn and without
practice opportunities. How can a man be at his best under such
conditions?--yet certain conditions make these things unavoidable in
America, and the pianist must suffer occasional criticism for not
playing uniformly well. In Europe such conditions do not exist owing to
the closely populated districts. I am glad to have the opportunity to
make this statement, as no doubt a very great many Americans fail to
realize under what distressing conditions an artist is often obliged to
play in America."




1. What should be the first step in the musical education of the child?

2. Why was Köhler so successful as a teacher?

3. Did Liszt follow a method in teaching or was his work eclectic?

4. Give Liszt's conception of how Chopin developed one of his Valses.

5. Have the possibilities of the art of musical composition been

6. Are other great schools of pianoforte playing likely to arise?

7. What was Reisenauer's opinion of the works of MacDowell?

8. What may be said of musical taste in America when Reisenauer was
touring this country.

9. What may be said of the status of American musical education?

10. What great difficulties do the virtuosos visiting America

[Illustration: EMIL SAUER]



Emil Sauer was born in Hamburg, Germany, October 8, 1862. His first
teacher was his mother, who was a fine musician, and who took
exceptional pains with her talented son. From 1879 to 1881 he studied
with Nicholas Rubinstein, brother of the famous Anton Rubinstein.
Nicholas Rubinstein was declared by many to be a far abler teacher than
his brother, who eclipsed him upon the concert platform. From 1884 to
1885 Sauer studied with Franz Liszt. In his autobiographical work, "My
Life," Sauer relates that Liszt at that time had reached an age when
much of his reputed brilliance had disappeared, and the playing of the
great Master of Weimar did not startle Sauer as it did some others.
However, Liszt took a great personal interest in Sauer and prophesied a
great future for him.

In 1882 Sauer made his first tour as a virtuoso, and met with such favor
that numerous tours of the music-loving countries ensued. The critics
praised his playing particularly for his great clarity, sanity,
symmetrical appreciation of form, and unaffected fervor. For a time
Sauer was at the head of the Meisterschule of Piano-playing, connected
with the Imperial Conservatory in Vienna.

(The following conference was conducted in German and English.)




One of the most inestimable advantages I have ever had was my good
fortune in having a musical mother. It is to her that I owe my whole
career as an artist. If it had not been for her loving care and her
patient persistence I might have been engaged in some entirely different
pursuit. As a child I was very indifferent to music. I abhorred
practice, and, in fact, showed no signs of pronounced talent until my
twelfth year. But she kept faithfully pegging away at me and insisted
that because my grandfather had been a noted artist and because she was
devoted to music it must be in my blood.

My mother was a pupil of Deppe, of whom Miss Amy Fay has written in her
book "Music Study in Germany." Deppe was a remarkable pedagogue and had
excellent ideas upon the foundation of a rational system of touch. He
sought the most natural position of the hand and always aimed to work
along the line of least resistance. My mother instilled Deppe's ideas
into me together with a very comprehensive training in the standard
etudes and classics within my youthful technical grasp. For those years
I could not have had a better teacher. Lucky is the child, who like
Gounod, Reisenauer and others, has had the invaluable instruction that
a patient, self-sacrificing mother can give. The mother is the most
unselfish of all teachers, and is painstaking to a fault.


She insisted upon slow systematic regular practice. She knew the
importance of regularity, and one of the first things I ever learned was
that if I missed one or two days' practice, I could not hope to make it
up by practicing overtime on the following days. Practice days missed or
skipped are gone forever. One must make a fresh start and the loss is
sometimes not recovered for several days.

I was also made to realize the necessity of freshness at the practice
period. The pupil who wants to make his practice lead to results must
feel well while practicing. Practicing while tired, either mentally or
physically, is wasted practice.

Pupils must learn to concentrate, and if they have not the ability to do
this naturally they should have a master who will teach them how. It is
not easy to fix the mind upon one thing and at the same time drive every
other thought away. With some young pupils this takes much practice.
Some never acquire it--it is not in them. Concentration is the vertebræ
of musical success. The student who cannot concentrate had better
abandon musical study. In fact, the young person who cannot concentrate
is not likely to be a conspicuous success in any line of activity. The
study of music cultivates the pupil's powers of concentration perhaps
more than any other study. The notes to be played must be recognized
instantaneously and correctly performed. In music the mind has no time
to wander. This is one of the reasons why music is so valuable even for
those who do not ever contemplate a professional career.

One hour of concentrated practice with the mind fresh and the body
rested is better than four hours of dissipated practice with the mind
stale and the body tired. With a fatigued intellect the fingers simply
dawdle over the keys and nothing is accomplished. I find in my own daily
practice that it is best for me to practice two hours in the morning and
then two hours later in the day. When I am finished with two hours of
hard study I am exhausted from close concentration. I have also noted
that any time over this period is wasted. I am too fatigued for the
practice to be of any benefit to me.


Parents make a great mistake in not insuring the general education of
the child who is destined to become a concert performer. I can imagine
nothing more stultifying or more likely to result in artistic disaster
than the course that some parents take in neglecting the child's school
work with an idea that if he is to become a professional musician he
need only devote himself to music. This one-sided cultivation should be
reserved for idiots who can do nothing else. The child-wonder is often
the victim of some mental disturbance.

I remember once seeing a remarkable child mathematician in Hungary. He
was only twelve years of age and yet the most complicated mathematical
problems were solved in a few seconds without recourse to paper. The
child had water on the brain and lived but a few years. His usefulness
to the world of mathematics was limited solely to show purposes. It is
precisely the same with the so-called musical precocities. They are
rarely successful in after life, and unless trained by some very wise
and careful teacher, they soon become objects for pity.

The child who is designed to become a concert pianist should have the
broadest possible culture. He must live in the world of art and letters
and become a naturalized citizen. The wider the range of his
information, experience and sympathies, the larger will be the audience
he will reach when he comes to talk to them from the concert platform.
It is the same as with a public speaker. No one wants to hear a speaker
who has led a narrow, crabbed intellectual existence, but the man who
has seen and known the world, who has become acquainted with the great
masterpieces of art and the wonderful achievements of science, has
little difficulty in securing an audience providing he has mastered the
means of expressing his ideas.


In the matter of technical preparation there is, perhaps, too little
attention being given to-day to the necessity for clean playing. Of
course, each individual requires a different treatment. The pupil who
has a tendency to play with stiffness and rigidity may be given studies
which will develop a more fluent style. For these pupils' studies, like
those of Heller, are desirable in the cases of students with only
moderate technical ability, while the splendid "etudes" of Chopin are
excellent remedies for advanced pupils with tendencies toward hard,
rigid playing. The difficulty one ordinarily meets, however, is ragged,
slovenly playing rather than stiff, rigid playing. To remedy this
slovenliness, there is nothing like the well-known works of Czerny,
Cramer or Clementi.

I have frequently told pupils in my "Meisterschule" in Vienna, before I
abandoned teaching for my work as a concert pianist, that they must
learn to draw before they learn to paint. They will persist in trying to
apply colors before they learn the art of making correct designs. This
leads to dismal failure in almost every case. Technic first--then
interpretation. The great concert-going public has no use for a player
with a dirty, slovenly technic no matter how much he strives to make
morbidly sentimental interpretations that are expected to reach the
lovers of sensation. For such players a conscientious and exacting study
of Czerny, Cramer, Clementi and others of similar design is good
musical soap and water. It washes them into respectability and technical
decency. The pianist with a bungling, slovenly technic, who at the same
time attempts to perform the great masterpieces, reminds me of those
persons who attempt to disguise the necessity for soap and water with
nauseating perfume.


Few people realize what a vital factor health is to the concert pianist.
The student should never fail to think of this. Many young Americans who
go abroad to study break down upon the very vehicle upon which they must
depend in their ride to success through the indiscretions of overwork or
wrong living. The concert pianist really lives a life of privation. I
always make it a point to restrict myself to certain hygienic rules on
the day before a concert. I have a certain diet and a certain amount of
exercise and sleep, without which I cannot play successfully.

In America one is overcome with the kindness of well-meaning people who
insist upon late suppers, receptions, etc. It is hard to refuse kindness
of this description, but I have always felt that my debt to my audiences
was a matter of prime importance, and while on tour I refrain from
social pleasures of all kinds. My mind and my body must be right or
failure will surely result.

I have often had people say to me after the performance of some
particularly brilliant number "Ah! You must have taken a bottle of
champagne to give a performance like that." Nothing could be further
from the truth. A half a bottle of beer would ruin a recital for me. The
habit of taking alcoholic drinks with the idea that they lead to a more
fiery performance is a dangerous custom that has been the ruin of more
than one pianist. The performer who would be at his best must live a
very careful, almost abstemious life. Any unnatural excess is sure to
mar his playing and lead to his downfall with the public. I have seen
this done over and over again, and have watched alcohol tear down in a
few years what had taken decades of hard practice and earnest study to
build up.


The field of music is so enormous that I have often thought that the
teacher should be very careful not to overdo the matter of giving
technical exercises. Technical exercises are, at best, short cuts. They
are necessary for the student. He should have a variety of them, and not
be kept incessantly pounding away at one or two exercises. As Nicholas
Rubinstein once said to me, "Scales should never be dry. If you are not
interested in them work with them until you become interested in them."
They should be played with accents and in different rhythms. If they are
given in the shapeless manner in which some teachers obliged their
unfortunate pupils to practice them they are worthless. I do not
believe in working out technical exercises at a table or with a dumb
piano. The brain must always work with the fingers, and without the
sound of the piano the imagination must be enormously stretched to get
anything more than the most senseless, toneless, soulless touch.

Technic with many is unmistakably a gift. I say this after having given
the matter much careful thought. It is like the gift of speech. Some
people are fluent talkers, precisely as some people can do more in two
hours' technical work at the keyboard than others could accomplish with
four. Of course, much can be accomplished with persistent practice, and
a latent gift may be awakened, but it is certainly not given to all to
become able technicalists. Again some become very proficient from the
technical standpoint, but are barren, soulless, uninspired and vapid
when it comes to the artistic and musicianly interpretation of a piece.

There comes a time to every advanced pianist when such exercises as the
scales, arpeggios, the studies of Czerny and Cramer are unnecessary. I
have not practiced them for some years, but pray do not think that I
attempt to go without exercises. These exercises I make by selecting
difficult parts of famous pieces and practicing them over and over. I
find the concertos of Hummel particularly valuable in this connection,
and there are parts of some of the Beethoven concertos that make
splendid musical exercises that I can practice without the fatal
diminution of interest which makes a technical exercise valueless.


In the matter of foreign study I think that I may speak without bias, as
I am engaged in teaching and am not likely to resume for some years. I
am _absolutely convinced_ that there are many teachers in America who
are as good as the best in Europe. Nevertheless, I would advise the
young American to secure the best instruction possible in his native
land, and then to go abroad for a further course. It will serve to
broaden him in many ways.

I believe in patriotism, and I admire the man who sticks to his
fatherland. But, in art there is no such thing as patriotism. As the
conservatory of Paris provides, through the "Prix de Rome," for a three
years' residence in Italy and other countries for the most promising
pupil, so the young American music students should avail themselves of
the advantages of Old World civilization, art, and music. There is much
to be learned from the hustle and vigorous wholesome growth of your own
country that would be of decided advantage to the German students who
could afford a term of residence here. It is narrowing to think that one
should avoid the Old World art centers from the standpoint of American


Few people recognize the multifarious requirements of the concert
pianist. He must adjust himself to all sorts of halls, pianos and living
conditions. The difference between one piano and another is often very
remarkable. It sometimes obliges the artist to readjust his technical
methods very materially. Again, the difference in halls is noteworthy.
In a great hall, like the Albert Hall of London, one can only strive for
very broad effects. It is not possible for one to attempt the delicate
shadings which the smaller halls demand. Much is lost in the great hall,
and it is often unjust to determine the pianist's ability by his
exclusively bravura performances in very large auditoriums.


The concert pianist must have great endurance. His fingers must be as
strong as steel, and yet they must be as elastic and as supple as willow
wands. I have always had great faith in the "Kleine Pischna" and the
"Pischna Exercises" in cultivating strength. These exercises are now
world famous, and it would be hard for me to imagine anything better for
this particular purpose. They are somewhat voluminous, but necessarily
so. One conspicuous difficulty with which teachers have to contend is
that pupils attempt pieces requiring great digital strength without ever
having gone through such a course as I advocate above. The result is
that they have all sorts of troubles with their hands through strain.
Some of these troubles are irremediable, others are curable, but cause
annoying delays. I have never had anything of this sort and attribute my
immunity from weeping sinews, etc., to correct hand positions, a loose
wrist and slow systematic work in my youth.


Velocity depends more upon natural elasticity than strength. Some people
seem to be born with the ability to play rapidly. It is always a matter
of the fingers, but is more a matter of the brain. Some people have the
ability to think very rapidly, and when these people have good supple
hands they seem to be able to play rapidly with comparatively little
study. When you fail to get velocity at first, do not hesitate to lay
the piece aside for several weeks, months or years. Then you will
doubtless find that the matter of velocity will not trouble you. Too
much study upon a piece that fails for the time being to respond to
earnest effort is often a bad thing. Be a little patient. It will all
come out right in the end. If you fuss and fume for immediate results
you may be sadly disappointed.


Talent is great and immutable. Take the case of Liszt, for instance. I
recently heard from a reliable source the following interesting story:
One day Liszt was called away from his class at Wiemar by an invitation
to visit the Grand Duke. Von Bülow, then a mature artist, was present,
and he was asked by Liszt to teach the class for the day. Liszt left the
room, and a young student was asked to play one of Liszt's own
compositions. Von Bülow did not like the youth's interpretation, as he
had been accustomed to play the same work on tour in a very different
manner. Consequently he abused the student roundly, and then sat at the
keyboard and was playing to his great satisfaction when the tottering
old master broke in the room and with equal severity reprimanded Von
Bülow, and sat down at the keyboard and gave an interpretation that was
infinitely superior to that of Von Bülow. It was simply a case of
superiority of talent that enabled the aged and somewhat infirm Liszt to
excel his younger contemporary.


In closing, let me enjoin all young American music students to strive
for naturalness. Avoid ostentatious movements in your playing. Let your
playing be as quiet as possible. The wrist should be loose. The hands,
to my mind, should be neither high nor low, but should be in line with
the forearm. One should continually strive for quietness. Nothing should
be forced. Ease in playing is always admirable, and comes in time to all
talented students who seek it. The Deppe method of hand position, while
pedantic and unnecessarily long, is interesting and instructive.

Personally, I advocate the use of the Etudes of Chopin, Moscheles and
the _Etudes Transcendante_ to all advanced pupils. I have used them with
pupils with invariable success. I have also a series of thirteen Etudes
of my own that I have made for the express purpose of affording pupils
material for work which is not adequately covered in the usual course.

Young Americans have a great future before them. The pupils I have had
have invariably been ones who progress with astonishing rapidity. They
show keenness and good taste, and are willing to work faithfully and
conscientiously, and that, after all, is the true road to success.


If you think that talent does not count you are very greatly mistaken.
We not infrequently see men who have been engaged in one occupation with
only very moderate success suddenly leap into fame in an entirely
different line. Men who have struggled to be great artists or
illustrators like du Maurier astonish the world with a previously
concealed literary ability. It is foolish not to recognize the part that
talent must play in the careers of artists. Sometimes hard work and
patient persistence will stimulate the mind and soul, and reveal talents
that were never supposed to exist, but if the talent does not exist it
is as hopeless to hunt for it as it is to seek for diamonds in a bowl of

Talented people seem to be born with the knack or ability to do certain
things twice as well and twice as quickly as other people can do the
same things. I well remember that when all Europe was wild over the
"Diabolo" craze my little girl commenced to play with the sticks and the
little spool. It looked interesting and I thought that I would try it a
few times and then show her how to do it. The more I tried the more
exasperated I became. I simply could not make it go, and before I knew
it I had wasted a whole morning upon it. My little daughter took it up
and in a few minutes' practice she was able to do it as well as an
expert. It is precisely the same at the keyboard. What takes some pupils
hours to accomplish others can do in a few seconds with apparently less
effort. The age of the pupil seems to have little to do with musical
comprehension. What does count is talent, that peculiar qualification
which seems to lead the student to see through complex problems as if he
had been solving them through different generations for centuries.




1. Can missed practice periods ever be made up?

2. Does piano study cultivate concentration?

3. What is a good arrangement of practice hours?

4. What are some remedies for slovenly playing?

5. How is one's playing affected by health?

6. Are stimulants good or bad?

7. Is listening important in pianoforte playing?

8. How may finger strength be cultivated?

9. Upon what does velocity depend?

10. What part does talent play in the artist's success?

[Illustration: X. SCHARWENKA]



Franz Xaver Scharwenka was born at Samter, Posen (Polish Prussia),
January 6, 1850. He was a pupil of Kullak and Würst at Kullak's Academy
in Berlin, from which he graduated in 1868. Shortly thereafter he was
appointed a teacher in the same institution. The next year he made his
début as a virtuoso at the _Singakademie_. For many years thereafter he
gave regular concerts in Berlin in connection with Sauret and Grünfeld.
In 1874 he gave up his position in the famous Berlin music school and
commenced the career of the touring virtuoso. In 1880 he founded the
Scharwenka Conservatory in Berlin together with his brother Philipp
Scharwenka, an able composer.

In 1891 Scharwenka came to New York to establish a conservatory there.
This, however, was closed in 1898 when Scharwenka returned to Berlin as
Director of the Klindworth-Scharwenka conservatory. He has been the
recipient of numerous honors from the governments of Austria and
Germany. He received the title of "Professor" from the King of Prussia
(Emperor Wilhelm II) and that of Court Pianist from the emperor of

His many concert tours in America and in Europe have established his
fame as a pianist of great intellectual strength as well as strong
poetical force. His compositions, including his four Concertos, have
been widely played, and his opera, _Mataswintha_, has received important
productions. One of his earlier works, the _Polish Dance_, has been
enormously popular for a quarter of a century.

(The following conference was conducted in German and English.)




It is somewhat of a question whether any time spent in music study is
actually wasted, since all intellectual activity is necessarily
accompanied by an intellectual advance. However, it soon becomes
apparent to the young teacher that results can be achieved with a great
economy of time if the right methods are used. By the use of the words
"right methods" I do not mean to infer that only one right method
exists. The right method for one pupil might be quite different from
that which would bring about the best results with another pupil. In
these days far more elasticity of methods exists than was generally
sanctioned in the past, and the greatness of the teacher consists very
largely of his ability to invent, adapt, and adjust his pedagogical
means to the special requirements of his pupil. Thus it happens that the
teacher, by selecting only those exercises, etudes and teaching pieces
demanded by the obvious needs of the pupil, and by eliminating
unnecessary material, a much more rapid rate of advancement may be
obtained. One pupil, for instance, might lack those qualities of
velocity and dexterity which many of the etudes of Czerny develop in
such an admirable manner, while another pupil might be deficient in the
singing tone, which is almost invariably improved by the study of
certain Chopin etudes.


Although my educational work for many years has been almost exclusively
limited to pupils preparing for careers as teachers and as concert
pianists, I nevertheless have naturally taken a great interest in those
broad and significant problems which underlie the elementary training of
the young music student. I have written quite extensively upon the
subject, and my ideas have been quite definitely expressed in my book,
_Methodik des Klavierspiels: Systematische Darstellung der technischen
und æsthetischen Erfordernisse für einen rationellen Lehrgang_. I have
also come in close contact with this branch of musical work in the
Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory in Berlin.

My observations have led to the firm conviction that much of the time
lost in music study could be saved if the elementary training of the
pupil were made more comprehensive and more secure. It is by no means an
economy of time to hurry over the foundation work of the pupil. It is
also by no means an economy of money to place the beginner in the hands
of a second-rate teacher. There is just as much need for the specialist
to train the pupil at the start as there is for the head of the
"meisterschule" to guide the budding virtuoso. How can we expect the
pupil to make rapid progress if the start is not right? One might as
well expect a broken-down automobile to win a race. The equipment at the
beginning must be of the kind which will carry the pupil through his
entire career with success. If any omissions occur, they must be made up
later on, and the difficulty in repairing this neglect is twice as great
as it would have been had the student received the proper instruction at
the start.


The training of the ear is of great importance, and if teachers would
only make sure that their pupils studied music with their sense of
hearing as well as with their fingers, much time would be saved in later
work. Young pupils should be taught to listen by permitting them to hear
good music, which is at the same time sufficiently simple to insure
comprehension. Early musical education is altogether too one-sided. The
child is taken to the piano and a peculiar set of hieroglyphics known as
notation is displayed to him. He is given a few weeks to comprehend that
these signs refer to certain keys on the keyboard. He commences to push
down these keys faithfully and patiently and his musical education is
thus launched in what many consider the approved manner. Nothing is said
about the meaning of the piece, its rhythm, its harmonies, its æsthetic
beauties. Nothing is told of the composer, or of the period in which the
piece was written. It would be just about as sensible to teach a pupil
to repeat the sounds of the Chinese language by reading the Chinese
word-signs, but without comprehending the meaning of the sounds and
signs. Is it any wonder that beginners lose interest in their work, and
refuse to practise except when compelled to do so?

I am most emphatically in favor of a more rational, a more broad, and a
more thorough training of the beginner. Time taken from that ordinarily
given to the senseless, brainless working up and down of the fingers at
the keyboard, and devoted to those studies such as harmony, musical
history, form, and in fact, any study which will tend to widen the
pupil's knowledge and increase his interest, will save much time in
later work.


Geometrically speaking, the shortest distance between two points is a
straight line. Teachers should make every possible effort to find the
straight line of technic which will carry the pupil from his first steps
to technical proficiency without wandering about through endless lanes
and avenues which lead to no particular end. I suppose that all American
teachers hear the same complaint that is heard by all European teachers
when any attempt is made to insist upon thorough practice and adequate
study from the _dilettante_. As soon as the teacher demands certain
indispensable technical studies, certain necessary investigations of the
harmonic, æsthetic or historical problems, which contribute so much to
the excellence of pianistic interpretations, he hears the following
complaint: "I don't want to be a composer" or "I don't want to be a
virtuoso--I only want to play just a little for my own amusement." The
teacher knows and appreciates the pupil's attitude exactly, and while he
realizes that his reasoning is altogether fatuous, it seems well-nigh
impossible to explain to the amateur that unless he does his work right
he will get very little real pleasure or amusement out of it.

The whole sum and substance of the matter is that a certain amount of
technical, theoretical and historical knowledge must be acquired to make
the musician, before we can make a player. There is the distinction.
Teachers should never fail to remember that their first consideration
should be to make a musician. All unmusical playing is insufferable. No
amount of technical study will make a musician, and all technical study
which simply aims to make the fingers go faster, or play complicated
rhythms, is wasted unless there is the foundation and culture of the
real musician behind it.

To the sincere student every piece presents technical problems peculiar
to itself. The main objection to all technical study is that unless the
pupil is vitally interested the work becomes monotonous. The student
should constantly strive to avoid monotony in practicing exercises. As
soon as the exercises become dull and uninteresting their value
immediately depreciates. The only way to avoid this is to seek variety.
As I have said in my _Methodik des Klavierspiels_: "The musical and
tonal monotony of technical exercises may be lessened in a measure by
progressive modulations, by various rhythmical alterations, and further
through frequent changes in contrary motion." Great stress should be
laid upon practice in contrary motion. The reason for this is obvious to
all students of harmony. When playing in contrary motion all unevenness,
all breaks in precision and all unbalanced conditions of touch become
much more evident to the ear than if the same exercises were played in
parallel motion. Another important reason for the helpfulness of playing
in contrary motion is not to be undervalued. It is that a kind of
physical 'sympathy' is developed between the fingers and the nerves
which operate them in the corresponding hands. For instance, it is much
easier to play with the fifth finger of one hand and the fifth finger of
the other hand than it is to play with the third finger of one hand and
the fifth finger of another."


There is a general impression among teachers to-day that much time might
be saved by a more careful selection of studies, and by a better
adaptation of the studies to particular pupils. For instance, Carl
Czerny wrote over one thousand opus numbers. He wrote some of the most
valuable studies ever written, but no one would think of demanding a
pupil to play all of the Czerny studies, any more than the student
should be compelled to play everything that Loeschhorn, Cramer and
Clementi ever wrote. Studies must be selected with great care and
adapted to particular cases, and if the young teacher feels himself
incapable of doing this, he should either use selections or collections
of studies edited by able authorities or he should place himself under
the advice of some mature and experienced teacher until the right
experience has been obtained. It would not be a bad plan to demand that
all young teachers be apprenticed to an older teacher until the right
amount of experience has been obtained. The completion of a course in
music does not imply that the student is able to teach. Teaching and the
matter of musical proficiency are two very different things. Many
conservatories now conduct classes for teachers, which are excellent in
their way. In the olden days a mechanic had to work side by side with
his master before he was considered proficient to do his work by
himself. How much more important is it that our educators should be
competently trained. They do not have to deal with machinery, but they
do have to deal with the most wonderful of all machines--the human

Some studies in use by teachers are undeserving of their popularity,
according to my way of thinking. Some studies are altogether trivial and
quite dispensable. I have never held any particular fondness for Heller
for instance. His studies are tuneful, but they seem to me, in many
cases, weak imitations of the style of some masters such as Schumann,
Mendelssohn, etc., who may be studied with more profit. I believe that
the studies of Loeschhorn possess great pedagogical value. Loeschhorn
was a born teacher: he knew how to collect and present technical
difficulties in a manner designed to be of real assistance to the
student. The studies of Kullak are also extremely fine.

This is a subject which is far more significant than it may at first
appear. Whatever the student may choose to study after he leaves the
teacher, his work while under the teacher's direction should be focused
upon just those pieces which will be of most value to him. The teacher
should see that the course he prescribes is unified. There should be no
waste material. Some teachers are inclined to teach pieces of a
worthless order to gain the fickle interest of some pupils. They feel
that it is better to teach an operatic arrangement, no matter how
superficial, and retain the interest of the pupil, than to insist upon
what they know is really best for the pupil, and run the risk of having
the pupil go to another teacher less conscientious about making
compromises of this sort. When the teacher has come to a position where
he is obliged to permit the pupil to select his own pieces or dictate
the kind of pieces he is to be taught in order to retain his interest,
the teacher will find that he has very little influence over the pupil.
Pupils who insist upon mapping out their own careers are always
stumbling-blocks. It is far better to make it very clear to the pupil
in the first place that interference of this kind is never desirable,
and that unless the pupil has implicit confidence in the teacher's
judgment it is better to discontinue.


Few pupils realize that hours and hours are wasted at the piano keyboard
doing those things which we are already able to do, and in the quest of
something which we already possess. When we come to think of it, every
one is born with a kind of finger dexterity. Any one can move the
fingers up and down with great rapidity; no study of the pianoforte
keyboard is necessary to do this. The savage in the African wilds is
gifted with that kind of dexterity, although he may never have seen a
pianoforte. Then why spend hours in practicing at the keyboard with the
view of doing something we can already do? It may come as a surprise to
many when I make the statement that they already possess a kind of
dexterity and velocity which they may not suspect. One does not have to
work for years to make the fingers go up and down quickly. It is also a
fact that a few lessons under a really good teacher and a few tickets
for high-class piano recitals will often give the feeling and "knack" of
producing a good touch, for which many strive in vain for years at the

No, the technic which takes time is the technic of the brain, which
directs the fingers to the right place at the right time. This may be
made the greatest source of musical economy. If you want to save time in
your music study see that you comprehend your musical problems
thoroughly. You must see it right in your mind, you must hear it right,
you must feel it right. Before you place your fingers on the keyboard
you should have formed your ideal mental conception of the proper
rhythm, the proper tonal quality, the æsthetic values and the harmonic
content. These things can only be perfectly comprehended after study.
They do not come from strumming at the keyboard. This, after all, is the
greatest possible means for saving time in music study.

A great deal might be said upon the subject of the teacher's part in
saving time. The good teacher is a keen critic. His experience and his
innate ability enable him to diagnose faults just as a trained medical
specialist can determine the cause of a disease with accuracy and
rapidity. Much depends upon the diagnosis. It is no saving to go to a
doctor who diagnoses your case as one of rheumatism and treats you for
rheumatic pains, whereas you are really suffering from neurasthenia. In
a similar manner, an unskilled and incompetent teacher may waste much
treasured time in treating you for technical and musical deficiencies
entirely different from those which you really suffer. Great care should
be taken in selecting a teacher for with the wrong teacher not only time
is wasted, but talent, energy, and sometimes that jewel in the crown of


An illustration of one means of wasting time is well indicated in the
case of some pedagogs who hold to old ideas in piano-playing simply
because they are old. I believe in conservatism, but at the same time I
am opposed to conservatism which excludes all progressiveness. The world
is continually advancing, and we are continually finding out new things
as well as determining which of the older methods will prove the best in
the long run. All musical Europe has been upset during the last quarter
of the century over the vital subject of whether the pressure touch is
better than the angular blow touch. There was a time in the past when an
apparent effort was made to make everything pertaining to pianoforte
technic as stiff and inelastic as possible. The fingers were trained to
hop up and down like little hammers--the arm was held stiff and hard at
the side. In fact, it was not uncommon for some teachers to put a book
under the armpit and insist upon their pupils holding it there by
pressing against the body during the practice period.

H. Ehrlich, who in his day was a widely recognized authority, wrote a
pamphlet to accompany his edition of the Tausig technical studies in
which this system is very clearly outlined. He asserts that Tausig
insisted upon it. To-day we witness a great revolution. The arms are
held freely and rigidity of all kind is avoided. It was found that the
entire system of touch was under a more delicate and sensitive control
when the pressure touch was employed than when the mechanical "hitting"
touch was used. It was also found that much of the time spent in
developing the hitting touch along mechanical lines was wasted, since
superior results could be achieved in a shorter time by means of
pressing and "kneading" the keys, rather than delivering blows to them.
The pressure touch seems to me very much freer and I am emphatically in
favor of it. The older method produced cramped unmusical playing and the
pupil was so restricted that he reminded one for all the world of the
new-fangled skirts ("hobble-skirts") which seem to give our ladies of
fashion so much difficulty just now.

The American pupils who have come to Germany to study with me have been
for the most part exceedingly well trained. In America there are
innumerable excellent teachers. The American pupil is almost always very
industrious. His chief point of vantage is his ability to concentrate.
He does not dissipate his time or thought. In some instances he can only
remain in Europe for two years--sometimes less. He quite naturally feels
that a great deal must be done in those two years, and consequently he
works at white heat. This is not a disadvantage, for his mental powers
are intensified and he is faithful to his labor.

The young women of America are for the most part very self-reliant. This
is also very much to their advantage. As a rule, they know how to take
care of themselves, and yet they have the courage to venture and ask
questions when questions should be asked. My residence in America has
brought me many good friends, and it is a pleasure to note the great
advance made in every way since my last visit here. I am particularly
anxious to have some of my later compositions become better known in
America, as I have great faith in the musical future of the country. I
wish that they might become familiar with such works as my _Fourth
Concerto_. I should deeply regret to think that Americans would judge my
work as a composer by my "Polish Dance" and some other lighter
compositions which are obviously inferior to my other works.




1. Is any time spent in music study really wasted?

2. How may the pupil's elementary work be made more secure?

3. State the importance of ear-training.

4. What additional musical studies should be included in the work of the

5. What should be the teacher's first consideration?

6. Why must monotony be avoided in technical study?

7. State the value of practice in contrary motion.

8. May time be wasted with unprofitable studies?

9. What is the difference between brain technic and finger technic?

10. State how a revolution in methods of touch has come about.



Ernest Schelling was born at Belvidere, New Jersey, 1875. His first
musical training was received from his father. At the age of four and
one-half years he made his début at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.
At the age of seven he entered the Paris Conservatoire, with the famous
Chopin pupil, Georges Mathias, as his teacher. He remained with Mathias
for two years. However, he commenced giving concerts which took him to
France, England, and Austria when he was only eight years old. At ten he
was taken to Stuttgart and placed under the educational guidance of
Pruckner and the American teacher, Percy Götschius, who attained wide
fame abroad. Shortly thereafter he was placed for a short time under the
instruction of Leschetizky, but this was interrupted by tours through
Russia and other countries. At twelve he was taken to Basle,
Switzerland, and Hans Huber undertook to continue his already much
varied training. Here his general education received the attention which
had been much neglected. At fifteen he went to study with Barth in
Berlin, but the strain of his previous work was so great that at
seventeen he was attacked with neuritis and abandoned the career of a
virtuoso. An accidental meeting with Paderewski led to an arrangement
whereby Paderewski became his teacher for three years during which time
Paderewski had no other pupils. Since then Schelling has made numerous
tours at home and abroad.

[Illustration: ERNEST SCHELLING]





In studying a new musical composition experience has revealed to me that
the student can save much time and get a better general idea of the
composition by reading it over several times before going to the
instrument. While this is difficult for very young pupils to do before
they have become accustomed to mentally interpreting the notes into
sounds without the assistance of the instrument, it is, nevertheless, of
advantage from the very start. It saves the pupil from much unprofitable
blundering. To take a piece right to the keyboard without any
preliminary consideration may perhaps be good practice for those who
would cultivate ready sight reading, but it should be remembered that
even the most apt sight readers will usually take the precaution of
looking a new piece through at least once to place themselves on guard
for the more difficult or more complicated passages. By forming the
habit of reading away from the piano the pupil soon becomes able to hear
the music without making the sounds at the keyboard and this leads to a
mental conception of the piece as a whole, which invariably produces
surprisingly good results.


"The next consideration should be the execution of the right notes. A
careless prima-vista reading often leads the pupil to play notes quite
different from those actually in the piece. It is astonishing how often
some pupils are deceived in this matter. Until you have insured absolute
accuracy in the matter of the notes you are not in condition to regard
the other details. The failure to repeat an accidental chromatic
alteration in the same bar, the neglect of a tie, or an enharmonic
interval with a tie are all common faults which mark careless
performances. After the piece has been read as a whole and you have
determined upon the notes so that there is no opportunity for inaccuracy
from that source you will find that the best way to proceed is to take a
very small passage and study that passage first. For the inexperienced
student I should suggest two measures or a phrase of similar length. Do
not leave these two measures until you are convinced that you have
mastered them. This will take a great amount of concentration. Many
pupils fail because they underestimate the amount of concentration
required. They expect results to come without effort and are invariably
disappointed. After the first two measures have been mastered take the
next two measures and learn these thoroughly. Then go back and learn
measures two and three so that there may be no possibility of a break or
interruption between them. Next proceed in the same way with the
following four measures and do not stop until you have completed the

This kind of study may take more time than the methods to which you have
become accustomed, but it is by all means the most thorough and the most
satisfactory. I found it indispensable in the preparation of pieces for
public performances. It demands the closest kind of study, and this
leads to artistic results and a higher perception of the musical values
of the composition being studied. Take for instance the C Major Fantasie
of Schumann, one of the most beautiful and yet one of the most difficult
of all compositions to interpret properly. At first the whole work seems
disunited, and if studied carelessly the necessary unity which should
mark this work can never be secured. But, if studied with minute regard
for details after the manner in which I have suggested the whole
composition becomes wonderfully compact and every part is linked to the
other parts so that a beautiful unity must result.


"Many works have formal divisions, such as those of the sonata, the
suite, etc. Even the Liszt 'Rhapsodies' have movements of marked
differences in tempo and style. Here the secret is to study each
division in its relation to the whole. There must be an internal harmony
between all the parts. Otherwise the interpretation will mar the great
masterpiece. The difficulty is to find the bearing of one movement upon
another. Even the themes of subjects of the conventional sonata have a
definite interrelation. How to interpret these themes and yet at the
same time produce contrast and unity is difficult. It is this difference
of interpretation that adds charm to the piano recitals of different
virtuosos. There is no one right way and no one best way, but rather an
indefinite margin for personal opinion and the exhibition of artistic
taste. If there was one best way, there are now machines which could
record that way and there the whole matter would end. But we want to
hear all the ways and consequently we go to the recitals of different
pianists. How can I express more emphatically the necessity for the
pianist being a man of culture, artistic sensibilities and of creative
tendencies? The student must be taught to think about his
interpretations and if this point is missed and he is permitted to give
conventional, uninspired performances he need never hope to play


"In studying a new piece, as soon as the style of the piece has been
determined and the accuracy of the notes secured, the pupil should
consider the all-important matter to touch. He should have been
previously instructed in the principles of the different kinds of touch
used in pianoforte playing. I am a firm believer in associating the
appropriate kind of touch with the passage studied from the very
beginning. If the passage calls for a staccato touch do not waste your
time as many do by practicing it legato. Again, in a cantabile passage
do not make the mistake of using a touch that would produce the wrong
quality of tone. The wrists at all times should be in the most supple
possible condition. There should never be any constraint at that point.
When I resumed my musical studies with Paderewski after a lapse of
several years he laid greatest emphasis upon this point. I feel that the
most valuable years for the development of touch and tone are those
which bind the natural facility of the child hand with the acquired
agility of the adult. To my great misfortune I was not able to practice
between the ages of twelve and eighteen. This was due to excessive study
and extensive concert tours as a prodigy. These wrecked my health and it
was only by the hardest kind of practice in after life that I was able
to regain the natural facility that had marked my playing in childhood.
In fact I owe everything to the kind persistence and wonderful
inspiration of M. Paderewski.


"The right tempo is a very important matter for the student. First of
all, he must be absolutely positive that his time is correct. There is
nothing so barbarous in all piano-playing as a bad conception of time.
Even the inexperienced and unmusical listener detects bad time. The
student should consider this matter one of greatest importance and
demand perfect time from himself. With some students this can only be
cultivated after much painful effort. The metronome is of assistance, as
is counting, but these are not enough. The pupil must create a sense of
time, he must have a sort of internal metronome which he must feel
throbbing within all the time.

"Always begin your practice slowly and gradually advance the tempo. The
worst possible thing is to start practicing too fast. It invariably
leads to bad results and to lengthy delays. The right tempo will come
with time and you must have patience until you can develop it. In the
matter of 'tempo rubato' passages, which always invite disaster upon the
part of the student, the general idea is that the right hand must be out
of time with the left. This is not always the case, as they sometimes
play in unison. The word simply implies 'robbing the time,' but it is
robbed after the same manner in which one 'robs Peter to pay Paul,' that
is, a ritard in one part of the measure must be compensated for by an
acceleration in another part of the measure. If the right hand is to
play at variance with the left hand the latter remains as a kind of
anchor upon which the tempo of the entire measure must depend. Chopin
called the left hand the _chef d'orchestre_ and a very good appellation
this is. Take, for instance, his _B flat minor Prelude_. In the latter
part of this wonderful composition the regular rhythmic repetition in
octaves in the bass makes a rhythmic foundation which the most erratic
and nervous right hand cannot shake.


"Rhythm is the basis of everything. Even the silent mountain boulders
are but the monuments of some terrible rhythmic convulsion of the earth
in past ages. There is a rhythm in the humming bird and there is a
rhythm in the movements of a giant locomotive. We are all rhythmic in
our speech, our walk, and in our life more or less. How important then
is the study of the rhythmic peculiarities of the new piece. Every
contributing accent which gives motion and characteristic swing to the
piece must be carefully studied. It is rhythm which sways the audience.
Some performers are so gifted with the ability to invest their
interpretations with a rhythmic charm that they seem to fairly
invigorate their audiences with the spirit of motion. I cannot conceive
of a really great artist without this sense of rhythm.


"Personally I believe in 'pure music,' that is music in the field of
pianoforte composition that is sufficient unto itself and which does not
require any of the other arts to enhance its beauty. However, in the
cases of some of our modern composers who have professedly drawn their
musical inspiration from tales, great pictures or from nature, I can see
the desirability of investigating these sources in order to come closer
to the composer's idea. Some of the works of Debussy demand this. Let me
play you his '_Night in Granada_,' for instance. The work is most subtle
and requires an appreciation of Oriental life, and is indeed a kind of
tonal dream picture of the old fortified palace of Moorish Spain. I feel
that in cases of this kind it helps the performer to have in mind the
composer's conception and in playing this piece in public I always
follow this plan.


"Each phrase in a piece requires separate study. I believe that the
student should leave nothing undone to learn how to phrase or rather to
analyze a piece so that all its constituent phrases become clear to him.
Each phrase must be studied with the same deference to detail that the
singer would give to an individual phrase. This is by no means an easy
matter. More important still is the interrelation of phrases. Every note
in a work of musical art bears a certain relation to every other note.
So it is with the phrases. Each phrase must be played with reference to
the work as a whole or more particularly to the movement of which it is
a part.


"It seems hardly necessary to say anything about the fingering when so
much attention is being given to the matter by the best teachers of the
country, but certainly one of the most essential considerations in the
study of a new piece is the study of the fingering. A detailed study of
this should be made and it should be clearly understood that the
fingering should be adapted to fit the hand of the player. It is by no
means necessary to accept the fingering given in the book as 'gospel.'
The wise student will try many fingerings before deciding upon the one
that suits him best. Students who go to these pains are the ones who
invariably succeed. Those who take anything that is presented to them
without considering its advisability rarely attain lofty musical

"When a fingering has once been determined upon it should never be
changed. To change a fingering frequently means to waste many hours of
practice. This may be considered a mechanical method but it is the
method invariably employed by successful artists. Why? Simply because
one fingering closely adhered to establishes finger habits which give
freedom and certainty and permits the player to give more consideration
to the other details of artistic interpretation.

"I ofttimes find it expedient to adapt a more difficult fingering of
some given passage for the reason that the difficult fingering
frequently leads to a better interpretation of the composer's meaning. I
know of innumerable passages in the piano classics which illustrate this
point. Moreover a fingering that seems difficult at first is often more
simple than the conventional or arbitrary fingering employed by the
student, after the student has given sufficient time to the new
fingering. The required accent often obliges the performer to employ a
different fingering. The stronger fingers are naturally better adapted
to the stronger accents. Otherwise it is best to use a similar fingering
for similar passages.


"I should like to add a few words with regard to committing pieces to
memory. There are three ways. 1, By sight; that is, seeing the notes in
your mind's eye; 2, memorizing by 'ear,' the way which comes to one most
naturally; 3, memorizing by the fingers, that is training the fingers to
do their duty no matter what happens. Before performing in public the
student should have memorized the composition in all of these ways. Only
thus can he be absolutely sure of himself. If one way fails him the
other method comes to his rescue.

"After careful attention has been given to the various points of which I
have spoken and the details of the composition satisfactorily worked out
the student should practice with a view to learning the piece as a
whole. Nothing is so distressing to the musician as a piece which does
not seem to have coherence and unity. It should be regarded aurally as
the artist regards his work visually. The painter stands off at some
distance to look at his work in order to see whether all parts of his
painting harmonize. The pianist must do much the same thing. He must
listen to his work time and time again and if it does not seem to 'hang
together' he must unify all the parts until he can give a real
interpretation instead of a collection of disjointed sections. This
demands grasp, insight and talent, three qualifications without which
the pianist cannot hope for large success."




1. What should be the preliminary study of a new composition?

2. How should the mechanical difficulties of the piece be studied?

3. How may one find the bearing of one movement upon another?

4. State the importance of deciding upon the appropriate touch.

5. How may the right tempo be established?

6. What did Chopin call the left hand?

7. What is it in playing that sways the audience?

8. How should the fingering of a new piece be studied?

9. Why is a more difficult fingering sometimes preferable?

10. Give a practical plan for memorizing.



Sigismund Stojowski was born at Strelce, Poland, May 2, 1870. He studied
piano with L. Zelenski at Cracow and with Diémer at the Paris
Conservatoire. At the same institution he studied composition with Léo
Delibes. His talent both as a composer and as a pianist was considered
extraordinary at that time and he was successful in carrying off two
first prizes, one for piano and one for composition (1889). At that time
Stojowski's great fellow countryman, Paderewski, assumed the educational
supervision of his career and became his teacher in person.

Stojowski's orchestral compositions attracted wide attention in Paris
and he met with pronounced success as a virtuoso. Mr. Stojowski came to
America in 1906 and he entered immediately into the musical life of the
country, taking foremost rank as a composer, pianist and teacher. Aside
from his musical talent he is a remarkable linguist and speaks many
languages fluently. His articles written in English, for instance, are
unusually graphic and expressive. Once when complimented upon his
linguistic ability he remarked "We Poles are given the credit of being
natural linguists because we take the trouble to learn many languages
thoroughly in our youth." In 1913 Mr. Stojowski made a highly successful
tour abroad, his compositions meeting with wide favor.

[Illustration: S. STOJOWSKI]





It is difficult for some people who are not versed in the intricate
mysteries of the art of music to realize how limited are the means
afforded the composer for communicating to the interpreter some slight
indication of the ideal he had in mind when writing the composition. It
may be said that, while every great composer feels almost God-like at
the moment of creation, the merest fraction of the myriad beauties he
has in mind ever reach human ears. The very signs with which the
composer is provided to help him put his thoughts down on paper are in
themselves inadequate to serve as a means of recording more than a
shadow of his masterpiece as it was originally conceived. Of course, we
are speaking now in a large sense--we are imagining that the composer is
a Beethoven with an immortal message to convey to posterity. Of all
composers, Beethoven was perhaps the one to employ the most perfect
means of expression. His works represent a completeness, a poise and a
masterly finish which will serve as a model for all time to come. It
must also be noted that few composers have employed more accurate marks
of expression--such as time marks, dynamic marks, etc.

In all these things Beethoven was obliged to adhere to the conventions
adopted by others for this purpose of attempting to make the composer's
meaning clearer to other minds. These conventions, like all conventions,
are partly insufficient to convey the full idea of the composer, and
partly arbitrary, in that they do not give the interpreter adequate
latitude to introduce his own ideas in expression. The student should
seek to break the veil of conventions provided by notation and seek a
clearer insight into the composer's individuality as expressed in his
compositions. From this point of view the so-called subjective
interpretation seems the only legitimate one. In fact, the ones who
pretend to be objective in the sense of being literal and playing
strictly according to the marks of expression and admitting little
elasticity in the interpretation of these are also, as Rubinstein
pointed out, subjective at heart. This may be more concisely expressed
thus: Since all things of permanent value in music have proceeded from a
fervid artistic imagination, they should be interpreted with the
continual employment of the performer's imagination.

On the other hand, the subjective method, right as it is in principle,
can become, of course, according to the Italian saying, _Traduttore,
traditore_--that is, an absolute treachery to the composer's ideal, if
the performer's understanding and execution of the composition is not
based upon long and careful investigation of all the fundamental laws
and associated branches of musical study, which are designed to give him
a basis for forming his own opinions upon the best method of
interpreting the composition. Inadequate training in this respect is the
Chinese Wall which surrounds the composer's hidden meaning. This wall
must be torn down, brick by brick, stone by stone, in a manner which we
would call "analytical practice." It is the only way in which the
student may gain entrance to the sacred city of the elect, to whom the
ideal of the composer has been revealed.


In a certain sense the interpreter is a coöperator with the composer,
or, more definitely expressed, he is the "continuer" along the line of
the musical thought and its adequate expression. Music, of all arts, is
the unfinished art. When a great painting is completed, time, and time
only, will make the changes in its surface. When the great masterpieces
left the brushes of Raphael, Rubens, Holbein, Correggio or Van Dyck they
were finished works of art. When Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Brahms put
their thoughts down upon paper they left a record in ink and paper which
must be born again every time it is brought to the minds of men. This
rebirth is the very essence of all that is best in interpretative skill.
New life goes into the composition at the very moment it passes through
the soul of the master performer. It is here that he should realize the
great truth that in music, more than in any other art, "the letter kills
and the spirit vivifies." The interpreter must master the "letter" and
seek to give "rebirth" to the spirit. If he can do this he will attain
the greatest in interpretative ability.

From the literal or objective standpoint, then, an insight is gained
into the nature of the composer's masterpiece,--by close and careful
study of the work itself, by gaining a knowledge of the musical laws
underlying the structure and composition of a work of its kind as well
as the necessary keyboard technic to give expression to the work,--but
the veil is torn from the composer's hidden meaning, only becoming
intimate with his creative personality as a master, by studying his life
environments, by investigating the historical background of the period
in which he worked, by learning of his joys and his sufferings, by
cultivating a deep and heartfelt sympathy for his ideals and by the
scrupulous and constant revision of one's own ideals and conceptions of
the standards by which his masterpieces should be judged.


To exemplify what I mean, I could, for instance, refer to Paderewski's
interpretations of Liszt and Chopin. During the time I was associated
with the master pianist as a pupil I had abundant opportunities to make
notes upon the very individual, as well as the highly artistically
differentiated expressions of his musical judgment. It was interesting
to observe that he played the Rhapsodies with various extensions and
modifications, the result of which is the glorification of Liszt's own
spirit. On the contrary, in order to preserve Chopin's spirit, the
master would always repudiate any changes, like those of Tausig, for
instance, by which some virtuosos pretend to "emphasize" or "modernize"
Chopin's personal and perfect pianism. Differences in treatment are the
outcome of deep insight as well as the study of the time and conditions
under which the work was produced.

The study of musical history reveals many very significant things which
have a direct bearing not only upon the interpretation of the performer,
but upon the degree of appreciation with which the listener is able to
enjoy a musical work. It was for this reason that I prefaced the first
two recitals of my course of historical recitals given at Mendelssohn
Hall, New York, during the past season, with a lecture upon the
historical conditions which surrounded the masters at the time the
compositions were composed.


I have already referred to the inadequacy of musical signs. Even the
mechanical guide, the metronome, is not always to be depended upon to
give the exact tempo the composer had in mind. Let me cite a little
instance from the biography of Ries, the friend of Beethoven. Ries was
preparing to conduct a performance of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. He
requested Beethoven to make notes upon paper regarding the metronomic
marks of speed at which the composition should be played. The metronome
at that time was a comparatively new instrument. Maelzel, its inventor
(or, rather, its improver, since the principle of the metronome was of
Dutch origin), was a friend of Beethoven. At times they were on the best
of terms, and at other times they were literally "at swords' points."
Nevertheless, Maelzel, who had a strong personality, succeeded in
inducing Beethoven to put metronomic markings upon several of his
compositions. Naturally, the metronome was immediately accorded an
important place in the musical world even at that day. Ries was
consequently very anxious to give the Choral Symphony according to
Beethoven's own ideas. Beethoven had complied with the publisher's
desire and sent a slip of paper with the tempi marked metronomically.
This slip was lost. Ries wrote to Beethoven for a duplicate. Beethoven
sent another. Later the lost slip was found, and, upon comparing it with
the second slip, it was found that Beethoven had made an entirely
different estimate of the tempi at which he desired the Symphony to be

Even with the most elaborate and complete marks of expression, such as
those, for instance, employed by Beethoven and by Wagner, the composer
is confronted with his great poverty of resources to present his views
to the mind of the interpreter. Extensive as some of the modern
dictionaries of musical terminology seem to be, they are wholly
inadequate from the standpoint of a complete vocabulary to give full
expression to the artist's imagination. It also gives full scope to an
infinite variety of error in the matter of the shades or degrees of
dynamic force at which the conventional marks may be rendered.

One might venture to remark that composers are the most keen, most
conscious judges of their own works, or, rather, of the garments which
fit them best. There is in all composition a divine part and also a
conscious part. The divine part is the inspiration. The conscious part
has to do with dressing the inspiration in its most appropriate
harmonic, polyphonic, and rhythmic garments. These garments are the
raiment in which the inspiration will be viewed by future generations.
It is often by these garments that they will be judged. If the garments
are awkward, inappropriate and ill-fitting, a beautiful interpretation
of the composer's ideal will be impossible. Nevertheless, it is the
performer's duty in each case to try to see through even unbecoming
garments and divine the composer's thought, according to the
interpreter's best understanding.


Where interpretation is concerned, one is too often inclined to forget
that while there is a higher part, the secrets of which are accessible
only to the elect, there is also an elementary part which involves the
knowledge of musical grammar, and beyond that the correct feeling of
musical declamation--since music, after all, is a language which is at
all times perfectly teachable, and which should be most carefully and
systematically taught. I consider the book of Mathis Lussy, _Rhythm and
Musical Expression_, of great value to the student in search of truths
pertaining to intelligent interpretation. Lussy was a Swiss who was born
in the early part of the last century. He went to Paris to study
medicine, but, having had a musical training in the country of his
birth, he became a good pianoforte teacher and an excellent writer upon
musical subjects. While teaching in a young ladies' school, he was
confronted with the great paucity of real knowledge of the rudiments of
expression, and he accordingly prepared a book upon the subject which
has since been translated into several languages. This book is most
helpful, and I advocate its use frequently. It should be in the hands of
every conscientious piano student.


The nature of the keyboard of the piano, and the ease with which certain
things are accomplished, make it possible for the performer to make
certain errors which the construction of other instruments would
prevent. The pianist is, for instance, entirely unlike the violinist,
who has to locate his keyboard every time he takes up his instrument,
and, moreover, locate it by a highly trained sense of position. In a
certain way I sometimes feel somewhat ashamed for the pianist profession
when I hear players, even those with manifest technical proficiency,
commit flagrant mistakes against elementary rules of accentuation and
phrasing, such as, for instance, an average violinist acquainted with
good bowing is accordingly prevented from making upon his instrument.

The means of discovering the composer's hidden meaning are, in fact, so
numerous that the conscientious interpreter must keep upon continuous
voyages of exploration. There are many easily recognizable paths leading
to the promised land--one is the path of harmony, without an
understanding of which the would-be performer can never reach his goal;
another is musical history; others are the studies of phrasing, rhythm,
accentuation, pedaling, etc., etc., _ad infinitum_. To fail to traverse
any one of these roads will result in endless exasperation. Find your
guide, press on without thinking of failure, and the way to success may
be found before you know it.




1. What composer preserved the most perfect balance between artistic
conception and expression?

2. How may the student break the veil of conventions?

3. What fundamental laws should underlie interpretation?

4. How may master works be born again?

5. Is one ever warranted in altering a masterpiece?

6. Tell of Beethoven's attitude toward the metronome.

7. How may errors arise in the use of the terms of expression?

8. How may one be helped in learning the musical language?

9. State some mistakes peculiar to the pianoforte.

10. What voyages of exploration must the student make?

  | Transcriber's note:                                          |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 8: Torquamada _sic_                                     |
  | Page 153: subtilities _sic_                                  |
  | Page 159: regretable amended to regrettable                  |
  | Page 187: dumfounded _sic_                                   |
  | Page 251: "polish Prussia" amended to "Polish Prussia"       |
  | Page 257: Klaverspiels amended to Klavierspiels              |
  | Page 262: pedagogs _sic_                                     |
  |                                                              |
  | Hyphenation has generally been standardized. However, when   |
  | a word appears hyphenated and unhyphenated an equal number   |
  | of times, both versions have been retained                   |
  | (offhand/off-hand).                                          |
  |                                                              |
  | "Etude/Étude" and "etude/étude" are used interchangeably.    |
  | This has been retained.                                      |
  |                                                              |
  | Discrepancies between the Table of Contents and individual   |
  | chapter headings have been retained. Page references have    |
  | been corrected.                                              |

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Great Pianists on Piano Playing - Study Talks with Foremost Virtuosos. A Series of Personal Educational Conferences with Renowned Masters of the Keyboard, Presenting the Most Modern Ideas upon the Subjects of Technic, Interpretation, Style and Expression" ***

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