VOLUME 1, PART I. IN OLD PHILADELPHIA
CHAPTER XIII. MUSICAL PHILADELPHIA
Vol 1, p.142
. . . De Pachmann never played concerto with orchestra without notes;
he once had a bad smash-up in public. . . .
As a matter of history we have heard three pianists who combined
the purity of the Hummel school with the iridescent colour-scheme of the
moderns—need I mention the names of Vladimir de Pachmann, Rafael Joseffy,
and Leopold Godowsky?
VOLUME 2, PART III. NEW YORK (1877-1917)
CHAPTER III. IN THE MAELSTROM
Vol 2, p.42
. . . De Pachmann, Godowsky, Paderewski were his
To him alone may they be compared.
Chopin's style must have been, according to reports, like the pianissimist
Vladimir de Pachmann's.
That Russian was extraordinary, though his playing never had the intellect
nor the brilliancy of Joseffy's.
Ah! the beauty of Joseffy's hands, with their beautiful weaving motions,
those curved bird-like flights symbolic of the music.
One night at Lüchows, sitting with Ed Ziegler,
August—Himself—Joseffy and De Pachmann, an argument was started.
De Pachmann, who had been especially irritable, turned vicious
and spitting out his rage—he was a
feline person—he called Joseffy an unprintable name.
Before Joseffy could answer the villainous attack, I, with a recklessness
unusual for me, let the Chopinzee have the contents of my glass
full in the face.
If I had been sitting closer I would have slapped his mouth; as it was,
the wetting might cleanse it.
Sputtering, he was led away by a waiter and presently returned,
smiling as if nothing had happened.
Joseffy was disgusted with me, as well he might be.
was unpardonable, my conduct, and I promptly apologised.
Then De Pachmann explained it was jealousy,
as I had mentioned Joseffy's name seven times
more—he gave the exact figure—than his in my Chopin book.
It sounded childish but it dissolved the disagreeable business
into laughter. . . .
CHAPTER XIX. PICTURES
p.167 . . .
Years afterwards when he
was manager for
Vladimir de Pachmann, the slightly eccentric pianist—I think in
1890—he had a trying time to keep the little artist in order.
One morning at Schuberth's music store on Union Square, Fred Schwab entered.
De Pachmann (his right name is Waldemar Bachmann without the "De"),
who had been playing, rushed to his manager crying,
"I love you so much I must kiss you!"
He kissed Schwab on the neck, not a kiss of peace but a bite, so nasty,
indeed, that the manager had to wear a silk scarf to hide the teethmarks.
He did not have de Pachmann arrested for
mayhem—surely a Chopinzee then—but, so it was whispered, made an iron-clad
contract for the next season by the terms of which the manager would not be
altogether the loser.
At the time I remarked of de Pachmann that his "Bach was worse than his bite."
At a piano recital in old Chickering Hall, given by his wife and pupil,
Margaret Okey—now the widow of the French advocate,
Ferdinand Labori, counsel
for Dreyfus—de Pachmann after uproariously applauding her, became censorious
when she finished a Henselt étude (Thanksgiving after the Storm).
A sharp hiss was heard in the auditorium.
It was from
the lips of her husband.
Oscar Hammerstein, I remember, had hissed a performer in his Manhattan
Opera House, but for a husband to hiss his wife in public we must go to
the pages of "Wives of Artists," by Alphonse Daudet.
CHAPTER XXIII. MY DREAM-BARN
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 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 "Raca!" 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 fall-board 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
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 multi-coloured mist that encircles a mighty mountain;
but beautiful." So Pachmann's weaving enchantments
seemed in comparison to Godowsky's profounder playing.
And what did Vladimir, hero of double-notes, play?
Nothing but Godowsky, then new to me. Liszt had been his
god, but Godowsky was become his living deity. He had
studied, mastered, and memorised all those transcendental
variations on Chopin studies, the most significant
variations since the Brahms-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—Liszt only in
the scherzo. Instead of exhuming such an "ungrateful",
unpianistic composition as Tschaikovsky's Sonata in G,
pianists of calibre 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, 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 that night from 10 P. M. to 3 A. M. It is safe to wager
that the old Carrollton never heard such music-making 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 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 coloured 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 hit with my
neighbours. It did with me, and when Godowsky returned to
New York—I had last heard him in the middle nineties of the
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 other
names—must be a unique artist. And that Godowsky is.
p.308 . . .
There are certain compositions by my beloved Chopin to master which eternity
itself would not be too long. That last page of the Second Ballade as
Anton Rubinstein played it, in apocalyptic thundertones!
Or the study in double-thirds rippled off by the velvety fingers
of de Pachmann! . . .