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[This article appeared in the magazine Good Housekeeping, February, 1925, pages 52, 53, 193. The author is Alice Bryan Booth (Hartwell) (1888?-1963) (dates added 8-Jan-15), born in Bloomington, Indiana. Thanks to Matthew at Bakertowne Collectables and to the collector Jay for providing a copy of this article.
This web version is dated 13 November 2008.]

Vladimir de Pachmann
The Renowned Pianist
who at seventy-six has recaptured youth with a completely new technique of his own invention

by Alice Booth

Chopin's Prelude in A Minor, Opus 28, No. 2
As played by Vladimir de Pachmann especially for Good Housekeeping
Notation by Leopold Godowsky

[The musical score, in which the bass staff is divided between the hands almost throughout, is not reproduced here.]

p.53 Par 1 HE HAD become only a legend to us in this country—the great de Pachmann who had been the idol of his time, the most celebrated pianist of his century. He came to us in 1893, in 1900, in 1911, and then vanished across the seas. Twelve years went by, and time hung upon his image misty veils of passing years and fading memories.
Par 2 There were some who passed beyond those shadowy curtains and, when they came again, told us that the master still made his matchless music. But he was far away, and we could only remember him as he was, not young any longer even then, and now perhaps an old man whose glorious star was growing dim.
Par 3 And then he came again. No one could resist hearing him. Vladimir de Pachmann was the last survivor of the Golden Age of Music. He had known intimately those men of genius who seem to us to belong to another world of time. De Pachmann's father heard Beethoven, played with him in his home. De Pachmann himself was a friend of Liszt, and went with him to visit Wagner, at Bayreuth. And there he played for Wagner, and Wagner kissed his hand. Schumann died before his time, but Klara Schumann lived, and played for the boy de Pachmann her husband's loveliest melodies. Chopin died only a year before de Pachmann was born, and the child de Pachmann learned his Chopin while the Chopin tradition still flamed in the hearts of men. For us to hear de Pachmann was like hearing one of that immortal company, one who only yesterday had communed with their spirits and learned their messages anew.
Par 4 Carnegie Hall was crowded to its doors to hear—a man who had been. To hear a man who was old and who would need kindly memories of his shining youth. To listen to what seventy-five years had left of a fame that none could rival. We waited, silent, sad, wistful for the vanished years that never could return . . .
Par 5 And then there came upon the stage the man we waited for—Vladimir de Pachmann, wearing his seventy years and five like a cloak that did not fit—Vladimir de Pachmann with the heart of a boy, eyes of all knowledge, the smile of a child. The great piano waited. The audience was still. He sat down, and then . . . came music . . . music such as one hears in dreams . . . music that transcends the reality of fingers of flesh and blood, strings stretched taut, and flying hammers of felt. Music—it was immortal and undying youth that sang there that evening. Joy and sorrow and the heart of all things in colors such as no man ever woke before in all the world. The hall faded—the audience—there was only immortal sound, that rippled and floated and shimmered with a thousand playing colors. Sunset glow and flush of dawn . . . petals drifting in the breeze of Maytime . . . Radiance and the flickering blue of flames . . .  Everything spoke in those enchanted strains, death and love, springtime and harvest, the mellow past, the beckoning future . . . This man who played was no last straggler of a forgotten past. This was the torch-bearer of the future.
Par 6 We went mad, there in that crowded hall. Every one present knew that no one living could play like that. And speaking seriously, in sober judgment, I think it highly probable that no one in all the past centuries ever played like that. I think it is almost certain that de Pachmann plays as no one has ever played before. His touch is satin, his shading like the play of sunlight on rippling water, his coloring like the evanescent dawn flush that pales and deepens in the morning sky. At seventy-five this magician began for us another Golden Age of Music, with an art which is his own creation, and which may revolutionize the piano technique of the future as it has dwarfed the achievements of the past.
Par 7 At seventy, master of all the lore of music the past could offer, de Pachmann sought for greater beauty and a farther horizon—and found it in a new method which will go down in history as his greatest contribution to the world's beauty. All the piano playing of the past has been done with highly systematized and rigidly applied effort. De Pachmann conceived the idea of a technique founded on perfect ease and freedom of motion. And he created it.
Par 8 At seventy, with the use of this new method, he revolutionized his playing. He relearned the repertoire of sixty years, refingered it, rearranged it to fit the new principles which marked his great discovery. The piano playing of the past meant strain, tension. This piano playing of the future eliminates strain, tension.
Par 9 Pianists know that the playing of the present abounds in sidewise movements of the wrist—the p.193 keys being struck with the hand in the unnatural position of an angle to the forearm. No touch can be perfect with the hand in that position, the stroke of the fingers hampered [and] cramped by the tensed muscles through the wrist and forearm. As de Pachmann plays, the hand, wrist, and forearm make a continuous line, without angles. Lateral movement is from the shoulder at the free command of every finger-tip, the whole line of the arm a channel of perfectly developed power. There is complete relaxation and consequently complete freedom.
Par 10 With that freedom all sorts of exquisite variations are possible—shadings too exquisite to transcribe—which we call, for want of a better term, "tone"—that indefinable thing that proceeds from a man's soul as well as from his fingertips. With this method a man of seventy-six plays with the untiring exaltation of a boy—plays for hours each day, without effort, without fatigue, furiously or meditatively; it is all one to the relaxation of the wonderful new method. Professors of dynamics have marveled at the perfect principles of their science, upon which the method was founded.
Par 11 To illustrate his theories, M. de Pachmann has given us his own rendition of Chopin's Prelude in A Minor, with the fingering he uses to avoid the seesawing of the hand and wrist. For its transcription we are indebted to Mr. Leopold Godowsky, the celebrated composer. Compare this version with the one in common use, and you will see the working out of the new method.
Par 12 It is a wonderful thing to march with the procession of the world you live in. Most of us manage to keep our places in the line, however far we are from leadership. But how many men are there who have led the procession of the generation that is to come after them? Vladimir de Pachmann is one of those rare souls. Instead of being the last mourner in the funeral train of the past, he carries a soaring flame to light the triumphal pageant of the future.