[This article appeared in
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians
Theodore Baker (1851-1934), eighth edition,
revised by Nicolas Slonimsky (1894-1995), New York, Schirmer, 1992, page 1351.
(Earlier editions 1900 etc.)
This web version is dated 1 December 2001,
revised 30 May 2004.
Pachmann, Vladimir de,
eccentric Russian-born Italian pianist;
b. Odessa, July 27, 1848; d. Rome, Jan. 6, 1933.
He received his primary music education at home from his father,
an Austrian lawyer and amateur musician; his mother was Turkish.
He then was a pupil of J. Dachs at the Vienna Cons. (1866-68),
graduating with the Gold Medal.
He began his concert career with a tour of Russia in 1869;
he was 40 years old before he made a decisive impact on the international
scene; his 1st American tour, in 1891, was sensationally successful,
and it was in America that he began exhibiting his curious eccentricities,
some of them undoubtedly calculated to produce shock effect:
he made grimaces when he did not like his own playing
and shouted "Bravo!" when he played a number to his satisfaction;
even more bizarre was his crawling under the grand piano after the concert,
claiming that he was looking for the wrong notes he had accidentally hit;
all this could be explained as idiosyncratic behavior;
but he also allowed himself to mutilate the music itself,
by inserting arpeggios between phrases and extra chords at the end of a piece.
Most American critics were outraged by his shenanigans,
but some, notably Philip Hale, found mitigation in the poetic quality
of his interpretations.
Pachmann was particularly emotional in playing Chopin,
when his facial contortions became quite obnoxious;
James Huneker dubbed him "Chopinzee."
Pachmann did not lack official honors; in 1885, on his tour of Denmark,
he was made a Knight of the Order of Danebrog;
in 1916 the Royal Phil. Society of London awarded him its Gold Medal.
He made his last tour of the U.S. in 1925;
spent his last years in Italy, becoming a naturalized Italian citizen in 1928.
His personal life was turbulent; he married frequently
(the exact number of his wives is in dispute).
His 1st wife was his pupil, the Australian Maggie Oakey
who toured as Marguerite de Pachmann from the time of their
marriage (1884) until their divorce (1895);
she later married a French lawyer,
becoming known as Marguerite de Pachmann-Labori.
Pachmann and his 1st wife had a son, Adrian de Pachmann (c. 1893-1937),
who also became a pianist.
K. Sorabji, "P. and Chopin," Around Music (London, 1932).