Par 1 p.138 The Scherzo in E, opus 54, . . . [is] not heard too often in public, possibly because there are few pianists, like Joseffy or De Pachmann, to play it.


Par 2 p.148 The Mazurkas, those impish, morbid, gay, sour, dour, graceful little dances, I need not dwell upon here at length. For the majority of pianists they are a sealed book, and if you have not a savor of Slav in you pray do not disturb them with your literalism. De Pachmann, Godowsky, Paderewski, Gabrilowitsch, p.149 and Josef Hofmann play them wonderfully, but how few others. I recall a story told me by Rosenthal, whose colossal performances here are memorable. He wished to hear from De Pachmann's nimble fingers his own version of the Mazurkas and paid the Russian a visit one evening. Pachmann did not greet Rosenthal too sympathetically. "Ah!" he exclaimed, when Moriz, the octave-thunderbolt, explained the reason for his unexpected appearance. "Ah! but I play the Mazurkas so badly. Now, if I had your technique "—his eyes fairly sparkled with malicious irony—"I might be able to play them!" However, he was persuaded, and once seated at the piano he didn't leave it till he had almost finished the entire collection; and Chopin wrote many of these dances. (At least fifty-one, if you include several of doubtful authenticity). How did he play them, this perverse magical artist? Rosenthal told me that he had never heard such beautiful, subtle, and treacherous playing; the treachery was the manner in which he interpreted the music. Not an accent was correct, the phrasing was falsified, though the precise notation was adhered to, and all delivered with a variety of touches positively exquisite. "There!" cried De Pachmann, as he finished, "that is the only way to play the Mazurkas." And he smiled with his eyes. "Not!" thought Rosenthal, who thanked his colleague and hurried into the open air where he could explode. Talk p.150 about camouflage! The joke was later when Rosenthal teased De Pachmann about his trickery and the Chopinzee absolutely grinned with joy. Surely, as Sam Johnson remarked, the reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life. The splenetic doctor could have joined musicians to authors.


Par 3 p.226 . . . No one plays Chopin like Godowsky, no, not even that tricky kobold, Vladimir de Pachmann. . . .


Par 4 p.228 It must be nearly twenty years ago, anyhow eighteen, that I entertained Vladimir de Pachmann in my Dream Barn on Madison Avenue at Seventy-sixth Street. The tenth floor, a room as big and as lofty as a cathedral. Alas! where are such old-fashioned apartments to-day? After eating a duck, a kotchka, cooked Polish fashion, and borsch, beet soup, with numerous Slavic side-dishes, preceded by the inevitable zakuska—those appetite-slaying bonnes bouches—De Pachmann fiercely demanded cognac. I was embarrassed. Not drinking spirits, I had p.229 inconsiderately forgotten the taste of others. De Pachmann, who is a child at heart, too often a naughty child, cried to heaven that I was a hell of a host! He said this in Russian, then in French, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, English, and wound up with a hearty Hebrew "Racal" which may mean hatred, or revenge, certainly something not endearing. But the worst was to come. There stood my big Steinway concert grand piano, and he circled about the instrument as if it were a dangerous monster. Finally he sniffed and snapped: "My contract does not permit me to play a Steinway." I hadn't thought of asking him, fearing Chopin's classic retort after a dinner party at Paris: "Madame, j'ai mangé si peu!" Finally I saw the hole in the millstone and excused myself. When I returned with a bottle of abominable cognac the little man's malicious smile changed to a look of ecstasy, and he was not a drinking man ever; but he was accustomed to his "petit verre" after dining, and was ill-tempered when deprived of it. Such is human nature, something that Puritans, prohibitionists, and other pernicious busybodies will never understand. And then this wizard lifted the fallboard of my piano and, quite forgetful of that "contract," began playing. And how he did play! Ye gods! Bacchus, Apollo, and Venus and all other pleasant celestial persons, how you must have revelled when De Pachmann played! In the more intimate atmosphere of my apartment his music was of a p.230 gossamer web, iridescent, aerial, an aeolian harp doubled by a diabolic subtlety. Albert Ross Parsons, one of the few living pupils of Tausig, in reply to my query, How did Joseffy compare with Tausig? answered: "Joseffy was like the multicolored mist that encircles a mighty mountain; but beautiful." So Pachmann's weaving enchantments seemed in comparison to Godowsky's profounder playing.
Par 5 And what did Vladimir, hero of double-notes, play? Nothing but Godowsky, then new to me. Liszt had been his god, but Godowsky was now his living deity. He had studied, mastered, and memorized all those transcendental variations on Chopin studies, the most significant variations since the Brahms, a Paganini scaling of the heights of Parnassus; and I heard for the first time the paraphrase of Weber's Invitation to the Valse, a much more viable arrangement than Tausig's; also thrice as difficult. However, technique, as sheer technique, does not enter into the musical zone of Godowsky. He has restored polyphony to its central position, thus bettering in that respect Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt. I have called attention elsewhere to Godowsky's solo sonata, which evokes images of Chopin and Brahms and Liszt — only in the scherzo. Instead of exhuming such an "ungrateful," unpianistic composition as Tschaikovsky's Sonata in G, pianists of caliber might more profitably introduce the Godowsky work. He is too modest or else too indifferent to put it on his programme. It "lies" so well for the keyboard, p.231 yet there is no denying its difficulties, chiefly polyphonic; the patterns are intricate, though free from the clogging effects of the Brahms sonatas. De Pachmann delighted his two auditors from 10 P. M. to 3 A. M. It is safe to wager that the old Carrollton never heard such musicmaking before or since. When he left, happy over his triumph — I was actually flabbergasted by the new music — he whispered: "Hein! What you think! You think I can play this wonderful music? You are mistaken. Wait till you hear Leopold Godowsky play. We are all children, all woodchoppers, compared with him!" Curiously enough, the last is the identical phrase uttered by Anton Rubinstein in regard to Franz Liszt. Perhaps it was a quotation, but De Pachmann meant it. It was the sincerest sentiment I had heard from his often insincere lips. We were all three surprised to find a score of people camping out on the curved stairway and passages, the idealist, a colored lad who ran the elevator, having succumbed to sleep. This impromptu Godowsky recital by a marvellous pianist, for De Pachmann was a marvel in his time, must have made a grand hit with my neighbors. It did with me, and when Godowsky returned to New York — I had last heard him in the middle nineties of the previous century — I lost no time in hearing him play in his inimitable manner those same works. A pianist who can win the heartiest admiration of such contemporaries as De Pachmann and Joseffy and Josef Hofmann — I could adduce many p.232 other names — must be a unique artist. And that Godowsky is.