Par 1 The most astonishing, most alive and most infectious dramatic performance given in our town one Autumn week was not that of Miss Eagels in "Rain." No; nor that of Mrs. Fiske in "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" at the Belasco. It was the astoundingly expressive and utterly enthralling performance which a happy, little, old man named Vladimir de Pachmann gave on a Thursday evening at Carnegie Hall, when, in the almost accidental presence of several thousand passersby, he sat down at a piano and, for two crowded, exultant hours, dwelt with Beethoven, Chopin and Franz Liszt.
Par 2 Not without cajolery, we had obtained seats so close that it was possible to hear every groan and every chuckle, possible to see every gesture of hand and shoulder, every recorded emotion, however fleet, of one who plays the piano with every last atom of his devoted self. Thus we went home from Carnegie Hall the richer for a stirring and unprecedented experience. It was, therefore, something of a blow to find that in all the newspapers which passed our way the next day, contumely, or at best an amused and patronizing tolerance, p.4 was De Pachmann's portion. The single exception we chanced to note was the altogether human and spirited account of the adventure which Gilbert Gabriel wrote for The Sun and The Globe. But from such usually humane and perceptive fellows as Deems Taylor of the World and Lawrence Gilman of the Tribune came mostly bricks—projectiles which from their speed and direction suggested to us that the critics had heard De Pachmann play and missed the point.
Par 3 It is hardly necessary for your correspondent to explain that in such company he would hardly venture an opinion as to whether or not the old man played well. But Mr. Gilman called it "a one man vaudeville show," and we do consider vaudeville within our province. After all, this was a dramatic performance, too. De Pachmann seemed to us to be caressing that piano and to be evoking from it a voice of gold, but then, too, there was Chaplin at that piano, there at times was such brilliantly expressive pantomime as that with which Paul Clerget glorified the Ames revival of "L'Enfant Prodigue." There was Deburau himself. Nay, there was Pierrot grown old and free and given to talking to the moon.
Par 4 As every one knows, De Pachmann, with many winks, chuckles, groans and appeals to heaven, keeps up a continuous, murmurous chatter about the music he is invoking. To himself, to the spirits of the dead, to any within range of his half-whispered monologue, he talks p.5 about that music, about how it came to be written, how Liszt played it, how he hopes to play it, how beautiful it is, and so on, and so on. It is chatter which only a few can hear distinctly and of which the eccentricity sets the remoter or more woolly witted auditors into a fit of the giggles. It you are nearer you see how the moods of the melody--fear, hope, anger, love, gayety, despair—write themselves on every aspect of his mobile face, in every line of his responsive body. If you are nearer still you can hear enough to know he is now exultant in a free and childlike way at his own astonishing dexterity, now mortified at his own shortcomings, now grateful to whatever god brought the wonder of music into an ugly world.
Par 5 He in thinking aloud—or, to be more exact, feeling aloud. A difficult Impromptu of Chopin may be before him. He wonders if he will play it well. He prays he will. It will tax his memory, and, after all, he is an old man now, a shrunken old man of seventy-five whose memory is not what it was. But, come, come, De Pachmann! Mere music teachers can memorize. What counts is intelligence. Courage, De Pachmann! "Dear God, help me to play this beautiful music to-night as You meant it to be played when You sent it into the world." Fragments of something like this escaped from the little man as he served at that altar on Carnegie's stage.
Par 6 Such communicativeness in the world of affairs or on p.6 the concert platform may be an infirmity, but, after all, it is a part of De Pachmann, and one did not come away from Bernhardt's last "Camille" denouncing her for being a grandmother with a wooden leg. It is barely possible that De Pachmann could he made by a grim management to keep his behavior orderly, his face straight, his mouth shut. But probably he would burst. It was possible for the late Ned Harrigan to take his aspiring young son, William, into his troupe and command him for the first six weeks to play every scene with his hands limp at his sides, in order to force the lad to a greater reliance on the expression of the face and the tone of the voice. But one who compelled Duse or Mrs. Fiske to keep her hands at her sides throughout a performance would be inviting an earthquake.
Par 7 To those sitting further from the stage it may be—nay, it must be—maddening to have the most delicate transitions of the Chopin nocturnes drowned in the empty laughter of giggling neighbors. But it was the whole implication of the more ferocious reviews that these "antics," these "monkeyshines," these "capers" were the tricks and manners of an old showman who was going to attract an audience by fair means or foul. Yet really weren't they rather the candors of an artless and quite simple person who would have behaved in exactly the same manner had the hall been empty and who would have had just as good a time alone with the composers? Many of these "monkeyshines " were p.7 prayers, for De Pachmann was not talking to A-2, A-4, A-6, A-8. He was talking to God.
Par 8 Deems Taylor did not stick it out. He went away in distress, "feeling a little ashamed of caring so much about music in a world where so many excellent people didn't mind a bit what happened to it." Well, that makes two of them, for, though Mr. Taylor's implication was rather to the contrary, we have a suspicion that there was another person in Carnegie Hall that night who cared as much about music as ever man cared since the first note sounded across the void. The other man's name was Vladimir de Pachmann.

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Par 9 It was in the hubbub of discussion following De Pachmann's first concert in New York after his long absence that Brother Taylor sat him down and tartly wrote for The New York World his notion of how "A Doll's House" would sound if Mrs. Fiske were to play Nora in the De Pachmann manner. Just listen to this:
Par 10 NORA—I have waited so patiently for eight years; for goodness knows I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every day. That's a tricky speech. Then this horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt quite certain—I don't know what's come over that electrician; the lights are awful to-night—that the wonderful thing was going to happen at last. My throat's bad again. I must remember that aspirin! When Krogstad's p.8 letter was lying out there—did you notice that the property man forgot it to-night?—never for a moment did I imagine that you would consent to accept this man's conditions. Watch my change of voice in this next speech: I was so absolutely certain that you would say to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that was done—how's that for technique?
Par 11 HELMER—Yes, what then?—when I had exposed my wife to shame and disgrace? Can't I say anything but the lines, Minnie?
Par 12 NORA--I should say not! Who's the heroine of this play, anyhow? When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would come forward and take everything upon yourself—awfully good house to-night—and say: I am the guilty one.
Par 13 HELMER—Nora!
Par 14 NORA—It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.
Par 15 HELMER—Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child! You jumped a long speech just there.
Par 16 NORA--Maybe. Oh, Lord, so I did. But you neither think nor talk like the man I could bind myself to. My throat certainly is sore to-night. As soon as your fear was over—and it was not fear for what threatened me, but for what might happen to me—there aren't many women could get over a parenthesis like that—when the whole thing was past—I pray Gott I can remember the rest of this darned speech—as far as you p.9 were concerned it was exactly—Ibsen showed me how this should be played—as if nothing at all had happened. Exactly as before I was your little skylark, your doll—Alex Woollcott thinks I'm the best actress in the world; dear man!—which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care, because it was so brittle and fragile. Mon Gott, what a beautiful speech!—Torvald, it was then it dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living—I saw Janet Achurch play this scene once; Mon Gott, she was terrible!—here with a strange man, and had borne him three children—now watch how I take this climax—Oh, I can't bear to think of it! I could tear myself into little bits. Ah, bravo, Fiske! Bravo!