Par 1 DE PACHMANN, after thirty years of exhaustive study, has a method of playing Chopin that is exclusively his own. Many have asked him the secret of it in vain. One afternoon lately he told me how he produced certain of his effects. To the pianist this knowledge will prove of decided interest, for many have tried in one way or another to get at the secret of his marvelously delicate performances.
Par 2 De Pachmann was in the midst of a successful series of recitals in London when I got a note saying that he would receive me one afternoon. He stops at a little French hotel in Golden Square, a faded part of London.
Par 3 His greeting was scarcely an assurance of success. "You want met to tell you how I make my effects in playing Chopin. I should be paid for interviews, and I should not tell you that even then. I am sixty and I shall soon be dead, and it will be well."
Par 4 This was a cheerful beginning for both.
Par 5 Mark Twain once jocosely told the Vienna correspondent of the London Times that he would willingly be interviewed, but it would cost his paper $3000. The correspondent was uncertain as to whether or not the humorist was joking. He was not, but the correspondent knew him only by his professional reputation. Mr. De Pachmann left no ground for any such quandary.
Par 6 "What have you there?" he asked, eying my notebook.
Par 7 "The questions I wanted to ask you."
Par 8 "What are they?"
Par 9 "Why should I bother you with them if you have no intention of answering?"
Par 10 "Tell me the first?"
Par 11 "It is about Beethoven."
Par 12 Beethoven and Brahms I would throw into the chimney as far as their piano compositions are concerned. They did not write for the piano, only Bach, Chopin and Schumann wrote for the piano. Brahms' piano things are in the organ style; they are not for the piano. I have the greatest reverence for Beethoven's orchestral compositions and string quartettes, but not his piano things. No, I would throw them into the chimney."
Par 13 If this was not Chopin it was at least interesting. His meaning was perfectly clear. He was judging the piano compositions of Beethoven from the point of the purely pianistic as compared with Chopin, the composer of all others who wrote for the piano as the piano.
Par 14 "I would throw them into the chimney," he reiterated, fixing his eve on a Japanese butterfly screen fastened insecurely in the grate.
Par 15 "What other questions have you?" he asked with the naïve curiosity that is accredited to six years oftener than to sixty.
Par 16 "Read another," was the command. "Another," "another," and so we went through the list.
Par 17 When they were exhausted he said, "Why don't you put those questions to ——? He is my dearest friend, my god in music. What do you think of him?"
Par 18 "That he is wonderfully dexterous and marvelously empty headed."
Par 19 "Do you?" said Mr. De Pachmann with animation. Come up to my sitting-room and I will show you how I play Chopin."

A Recital for an Audience of One

Par 20 DE PACHMANN took his place at the piano, I seated myself in a chair by the window. The big green trees in the square rustled in a fresh breeze. Liszt once explained the meaning of the rubato in playing Chopin, a fluttering and variation of the tempo, by just such an example: "The tree-trunks stand firm, the leaves flutter variably—the time is held, but there is a hastening and slackening of the tempo."
Par 21 Nocturne followed nocturne, then came the Cradle Song and the Polonaise in C Sharp Minor. It was a recital to the treetops and an audience of one. Across the way the red brick houses, weather-stained and toppling, made a sounding-board that reflected the music. De Pachmann played on for nearly an hour without interruption, going from one thing to another. The soft, insinuating, liquid quality of tone, the delicate embellishments, wonderfully soft but vibrant, kept steadily on. De Pachmann was another man; temper, curiosity, childish naïvité had been left for the moment below stairs.
Par 22 Take the hero behind the gun away from the smell of the powder and how often he behaves in affairs with the judgment of a boy of ten. Music is not the only profession that furnishes unconscious humorists to the world. Still it is only justice to the musical artist to acknowledge that he contributes his share. Sometimes the musical and the unmusical join forces in this aspect of things. Take the case of the lady in a remote city on her first meeting with De Pachmann. "How beautifully you play," she said effusively. "Do you sing?"
Par 23 The pianist turned his back on her. "Do I sing?" he echoed satirically. "Does she think—with that mind?"
Par 24 "In playing Chopin all lies in the fingering," said De Pachmann presently, talking as he played. " How many have cunningly watched me do these same things to find out how I did them. Did they find out? Scarcely; they would not have kept on playing with such a hard tone afterward if they had. It has taken me thirty years to study out these things for myself. Let them do the same. Why should I give away my bread? I am sixty and I shall soon be dead: it is well. In two years I hope to go to America," he added quickly, softening the prophecy of a fading mortality.
Par 25 "But in Chopin all lies in the fingering. In playing his music pianists get hard, brilliant effects, when they should have the singing, velvety delicacy that Chopin requires. They use the wrong fingers. The fingered editions of his works are full of errors in this direction. I very early found out that if I played Chopin as he demanded to he played I must study out my own fingering. Hour after hour I have tried first one way then another, until I got the quality of tone and the legato that I wished.
Par 26 "I do not use the first finger in playing passages where a delicate effect is needed. The first finger is too heavy—too harsh. I use the middle finger instead. Then I get the quality of tone that I want.
Par 27 "Now the stroke on the inner side of the finger and the stroke on the outer give two distinct tone qualities. Look at this!" De Pachmann's hand was bent inward and perfectly relaxed. "This stroke on the inner side of the finger is the violin, on the outer it is the flute in tone quality.
Par 28 "The true artist can give such variety of tone to a simple five-finger exercise that he can make it beautiful. But how many play five-finger exercises over and over like machines until they have taken their daily allowance of mechanism. Listen to every tone that you play, and above all, listen if you would play Chopin.
Par 29 "What an artist [Anton] Rubinstein was in the study of tone! The first theme of Schumann's Fantaisie, opus 17, is only five notes, but how he played those five notes!
Par 30 "But Rubinstein is dead. I am the greatest living pianist, Godowsky is next, Rosenthal is perhaps the third, and Paderewski fourth. I am the greatest, but Godowsky is next. Don't forget to print that; it would please him to know that I said so." I promised.
Par 31 The playing went on for a time without interruption.
Par 32 "Let me show you how I trill," the pianist broke in presently. Bend the first finger until it is the length of the thumb that they may be even. Then trill almost on the nail. There you have a Chopin trill.
Par 33 "In playing octaves I find a much better effect gained by the use of the thumb and little finger than by alternating the third and fourth fingers on the top notes in the Liszt style of playing.
Par 34 "There you have some of my Chopin secrets—touch and tone, quality, octaves, and the trill. I have never told these to any one before.
Par 35 "There is yet another thing. In playing passages marked for both hands, with the top note to be struck by the left hand crossing the right, a much better effect is made by taking with the left hand the lowest note marked for the right. This makes it possible for the top note to be struck by the right, a crossing of the hands being avoided. A small thing, apparently, but it is the small things in the sum of a great total that go to make a proper performance of Chopin and of all composers.

The Eternal Greatness of Bach

Par 36 THE artist's genius is not genuine until he can comprehend Bach. To play Bach is to play the piano. His compositions are drops of pure gold. In Bach you must read between the lines; he is a little obscure here and there, but the more you understand him the more you see his infinite greatness.
Par 37 "Technically, Bach is now better played than ever, but the spirit of his work remains unchanged. It demands the same spirit in its interpretation now that it has always done; there is no new way of playing it, no matter what is said about a modern interpretation. Three composers I hold as writers for the piano, in the perfect style of its demands: Bach, Chopin, Schumann."
Par 38 But as we said good-by Mr. De Pachmann suddenly changed his mind—he was not willing that his Chopin ideas should be printed. Here was a situation. We had spent two full hours in our work in the midst of a busy season with pressing demands on every moment.
Par 39 "Why should I give away my bread? I am old; I shall soon——" he began. "Come to me when you return from Paris, then we will talk about generalities."
Par 40 We did. When we had finished I asked, "But the things that you told me about your Chopin playing?"
Par 41 "Print them all," he said promptly.