Par 1 Musician p. 11 Modern p. 32 IF YOU were to come in touch with that superlative pianist and unique personality, Vladimir de Pachmann, you would not soon forget the experience. More than this. If you were permitted to sit beside the piano as he played for you, now this beautiful bit or that — just as they came into his mind — you would feel you were getting a very near and intimate view of a many-sided artist. If a music lover, you would enjoy the shifting web of tone colors he wove for you alone. A pianist — you would like to capture, imprison and make your own the secrets of tone and touch he illustrated for your benefit. A teacher — the wonderful technical control would appeal to you, which this wizard of the keyboard possesses in such a marvelous degree.
Par 2 I had the privilege of spending over an hour with the Russian pianist, on two different occasions, shortly after he arrived in America for his last tours. The first afternoon several friends Modern p. 33 were present. He was in rather a gay mood. He had left the steamer but a few hours before, and still felt the throb of the machinery. He was glad to be in our country, where people were so sympathetic to his art, and so on. After a while he brought out one of his most treasured possessions, which he exhibited for our admiration. This was nothing less than a coat which had once belonged to Chopin. It was of mohair of a chocolate brown color, with large collar and long skirt. Some one requested him to put it on. Then the piano was surreptitiously opened, and he was induced, still wearing the coat — which was much too large for him — to seat himself at the keyboard. Almost before he was aware of it he was improvising tiny little stray tone-thoughts. Continually protesting that he could not play that day, that he had not touched a piano for two weeks, he began the D flat Nocturne of Chopin.
Par 3 It was a memorable performance, or rather it was a poetical inspiration in tones. One felt it was the last word in the interpretation of this exquisite night song. He accompanied the playing with a little by-play of remarks as he went along. "This is Caruso", he said in one place; again, "These tones are sung by Patti". The pairs of intervals toward the close, given to the Modern p. 34 right hand, he called bells. When it was over, he explained that the beauties we admired were due to a new method of playing which he had discovered about five Musician p. 12 years ago [calculating from 1923 gives 1918]. What this method is has been subsequently much misunderstood, one writer going so far as to say it consists in holding the wrist stiff and high. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He explained his ideas to me the following afternoon, when I spent another hour with him. Calling me to sit beside him at the piano, he began:
Par 4 "My Méthode, ah yes, I discovered it five years ago. It was a revelation; it came to me from Heaven. It does not consist of high, stiff wrists; that would be very bad — abominable! You see I move my wrists up and down freely when I play. But my hand and arm I hold quite level, with the outside of the hand on a line with the arm, not turned in or out at the wrist.
Par 5 "In order to preserve this position of hand and arm in different parts of the keyboard, the use of the fingers, or I should say, the choice of them, must be very carefully considered. I must use special fingering for everything I play. Fingering, anyway, is a very important factor in great playing. Take von Bülow, for instance: he did much for fingering in his editions of Beethoven and Chopin. But I do not feel he has solved all Modern p. 35 the problems, by any means. He always tried to make things more difficult through constant change of fingers, thereby turning the hand from side to side and twisting the fingers out of shape. I make things easy by using fingers that will not throw the hand out of shape and that will always preserve the correct relation of hand to the arm, of which I have spoken. Yet Bülow was a great man, a most excellent pianist, thinker and philosopher. I say all this for him, though I don't approve of his fingering. I care still less for Klindworth's, for he tried to make things more difficult than they need be, in order to keep all fingers employed.
Par 6 "Look at this passage from Chopin's Third Impromptu. Here is Bülow's fingering; you see how it throws the hand out of shape? Here is mine, which keeps the hand quiet and in natural position.
Par 7 "The first benefit of my Méthode to the player is that he can produce a natural tone, made without effort. I can play hours and hours without fatigue. I could play the whole twenty-four if I didn't have to eat a little and sleep some. But the pianists of today, especially the younger ones — see with what effort they play, and with what a hard tone! How can they ever make natural tones and play from the heart, when they Modern p. 36 are punching and beating the piano at the rate they do? Ah, the poor piano! But my piano will yield lovely tones because I treat it in the right way. Why not caress it like this? Listen to these little upward passages; how delicate and shadowy! How ethereal they can be made if the heart speaks through them by means of the fingers! And the fingers, doing their part through right adjustment and correct choice, glide up and down the keyboard with little or no effort or exertion.
Par 8 "Do you think all this is easy? Of course it looks perfectly so — and it is easy, for me. But each of these passages has cost me months of study. Some of them I have played thousands of times. And even yet they do not quite suit me; they can still be improved with more labor, till they become superlatively perfect.
Par 9 And the artless pianist, simple as a child, listened intently, with head on one side, to the exquisite tones he produced.
Par 10 "When I made the discovery of my Méthode, I soon found that to play my pieces in the new way they must all be revised and fingered anew. Many passages written for one hand I now use both hands for; thus keeping the hands in a more natural position and making things easier for both."
Par 11 Modern p. 37 Mr. de Pachmann illustrated his remarks with various passages, most of them taken from the music of Chopin.
Par 12 "Some pieces do not lend themselves to such changes as are required by my Méthode, and those I shall not play in my recitals.
Par 13 "Of Beethoven I shall not give the Appassionata, for I know it has been done to extinction; every student brings it out. Neither shall the Waldstein appear on my programs. Op. 90 is nice in the First Movement; see how this opening theme can be transfigured by beautiful tone. Is it not heavenly? But the last movement I don't care for, and it's too long, as you say. I shall only put the Sonata Pathétique on my programs.
Par 14 "Of Chopin I shall select only the special and least-known pieces. Not the Polonaise Op. 53 or the Scherzo Op. 31. I can't hear these any more; they are played ad nauseam. No, I will choose the Fourth Scherzo and two Polonaises, the small one in C sharp minor and the wonderful one in F sharp minor, Op. 44, one of the greatest compositions ever written on this little planet. It is truly inspired. Then I shall give the little-known Allegro de Concerto and a few other things.
Par 15 "Brahms' Valses will be heard in one of my Modern p. 38 New York recitals. How light and beautiful is Number One; listen to it! Ah, and I will play it in tempo, too — no hesitation, no lagging. With my Méthode I can play it that way. Then hear Number Six; note the lightness of the skips! They should ripple and dance like tiny fairies. Do you remember the run in thirty seconds in Number 14? You will see I can play it in time. See, I beat the time with my hands and then play. Ah, you don't hear it played like that, with such swiftness, lightness and precision.
Par 16 "Then there is the music of Godowsky, the greatest since Brahms. He is a great genius, Godowsky; such a thinker, contrapuntalist, composer and pianist all in one. I have talked with him already about my Méthode. When he heard what it really was he understood at once and exclaimed, 'Ah, Pachmann, you have found out something really fine; in this way one can make a true, natural tone'.
Par 17 "What has Godowsky written for the piano? First, there is a wonderful Sonata in five movements; a great work, finer than Brahms' Op. 5. It is grander, more majestic than that, and exceedingly difficult. Then there is the Walzer-Masken, a set of twenty-four pieces — beautiful! I shall play seven of them in my American concerts. They are finer than the Trikatammeron, Modern p. 39 the set of thirty pieces of more recent date — at least I think so. These I do not play — nor the Sonata — in public; my Méthode is not adapted to them.
Par 18 "Yes, I intend to write out my Méthode; it shall be set down in an orderly manner, for the benefit of those who come after me. But not yet — I have no time; I must go on tour. After all that is over — then — perhaps —— "


Par 19a I rose to leave, feeling I had trespassed on his valuable time in staying so long. Thanking him for seeing me again, he said, as he shook hands:
Par 20a "Do not thank me; let us be quite simple. I should rather thank you for coming. You could even stay three hours if you wish."
Par 21a The master does not wish — in his own case — to think or speak of practice at the piano; it is too material and dry a term. He plays, listens, tests, evolves, creates the wonderful tone colors and his original interpretations at the piano. There is nothing mechanical in this study. He expresses himself in his music. The fruits of a life rich in artistic experiences are revealed in his highly unique investiture of the compositions he plays. He listens with the utmost keenness to every note; when they are all of such infinite variety and color, it is not surprising that he exclaims:
Par 22a "How heavenly beautiful is the way I play!"


Par 19b After two very successful seasons of concertizing in America, separated by a summer of rest and quiet, the venerable musician decided he must return to his European home. New York had the opportunity to hear him once more before he departed, in a last recital which was called "A farewell for all time."
Par 20b The last view of a renowned artist — the last time one comes under the spell of his particular form of art — is always memorable. The last American recital of de Pachmann makes history. At least once before he had seemed to take final leave of us, notably in 1912. But the very last "for all time" occurred April 13, 1925.
Par 21b Many years lay between his early recitals here and the very last of all. Some of us recall the days when he used to play in old Chickering Hall, Fifth Avenue and Eighteenth Street. Modern p. 40 Many other artists played there in those days, including von Bülow, Carreno and Scharwenka.
Par 22b Pachmann was ever erratic and talkative during recital, even in those days. On one occasion, during a long composition, his thought wandered, perhaps from too many side remarks, and he seemed suddenly to have a lapse of memory — or was it a cramp of the wrist, as he indicated it was; we could not quite tell which. He sprang from the chair, clasping his wrist, as though the next moment the hand would drop off, all the time talking very fast.
Par 23b Pacing up and down the platform, still holding his wrist, he slowly indicated that he was recovering the use of his hand. He then went to the piano, made several attempts to use his fingers, and finally told us he would try to continue the composition. He began the interrupted piece at the beginning, and this time went through it in safety.
Par 24b At the really farewell recital, Carnegie Hall was quite filled, and several hundred were seated on the stage. We all waited as patiently as we might, till long past the hour, remembering it was the last time. Finally a small figure threaded its way to the front of the stage, smiling, bowing, and talking as it came. When the piano was reached, the piano-stool proved to be intractable, Modern p. 41 and an orderly was summoned to adjust it. Meanwhile the eccentric pianist explained to the audience that the fingers and wrist of his right hand were troubling him; it was strenuous business to play a whole recital, at his age, too. He might get through all right; if he did, it would all be due to his wonderful Methode and Heaven's blessing on his work.
Par 25b With many glances Heavenward and at the audience, he seated himself before the instrument. It was an "all Chopin" program, and even the severest critics concede that de Pachmann, at his best, can be inimitable in the smaller Chopin pieces. For the greater Chopin he never had, even in his prime, sufficient virility and power. And on this final occasion the strength of former days was lacking. But there were compensations — unforgettable moments, when we listened almost breathless to the fine-spun, gossamer delicacy of the F major Étude, or to the ethereal loveliness of the D flat Nocturne. Some of the shorter Valses and Mazurkas were equally enthralling. Together these blossoms of delicate memory formed a nosegay of rarest fragrance, whose aroma is a lasting memory.
Par 26b Let us close eyes and ears to those eccentric grimaces and the running fire of comment; for both these are distracting whenever we allow them Modern p. 42 to divert our attention. But let us rather treasure the remembrance of the few but exquisite tone pictures which Vladimir de Pachmann has left us as a rich legacy.