[This excerpt appeared in
A Musical Pilgrim's Progress
by J. D. M. Rorke,
London, Oxford, 1921. The excerpt is taken from the 3rd edition,
1933, pages 13-14.
This web version is dated 26 May 2001, revised 30 January 2003.
by J. D. M. Rorke
Pachmann usually gave whole recitals of Chopin.
One didn't miss Pachmann if he came within fifty miles
I never resented his vagaries; I loved them.
Funny enough they were, too, sometimes, and laughter and beauty,
like laughter and terror, can interweave wonderfully well,
liberating the spirit for ecstasy.
Once he sat on his third or fourth trial seat,
two attendants standing by with further relays of chairs —
sat dead-still, gazing along the level of the unopened piano, then rose,
with eyes still intent, advanced stealthily and puffed away a speck of
dust that had been flawing the polished horizon.
Or I remember him getting up and coming forward before one work to say:
'I am now about to play the most deeficult piece of music in the world.
Even Godowski — Godowski has said "Eet ees deeficult".'
I remember that now, though I haven't remembered it for many years,
yet I can't put a name to the work.
I can only guess that it may have been the Barcarolle.