Par 1 "BRAVO de Pachmann!" Thus in stentorian tones and with a grandiose gesture did Vladimir de Pachmann, addressing himself as well as his audience, proclaim his supremacy as the master technician and revealer of Chopin.
Par 2 He was not only an unusual pianist but an outstanding personality. No one who heard him would ever forget the experience. He would spin a phrase in a veil of gossamer, then: "This is the way — like Caruso!" or "This is how Patti sang it."
Par 3 He cavorted about the platform. He mumbled to the front row. Once I saw him persuade a reluctant Leopold Godowsky, who was in front, to get up and make a bow while the invincible de Pachmann eulogized the master composer-pianist as the greatest musician since Beethoven.
Par 4 But de Pachmann's eccentricity had become a part of him. In his younger days he may consciously have assumed certain mannerisms. When he grew older they blended with his personality, so his unusual platform behavior did not seem out of keeping with his make-up. Certainly not with his appearance.
Par 5 He was a short man with long arms which swung to and fro as he tripped out on the platform. He made one think of a gnome with his fantastic white hair and whimsical manner.
Par 6 Heywood Broun [1888-1939] writes reminiscently that he always felt that de Pachmann was reaching out and trying to bring the audience closer to himself and the keyboard. [Broun's article is available elsewhere on this site.]
Par 7 He was like a vaudeville artist with his incessant chatter and musical monologue. His total lack of self consciousness bewildered his hearers as did his unsurpassed art. He threw dignity to the winds. In the middle of a piece he would stop and announce that he had been playing it as any student would have done it. Then he would give his own interpretation which would be matchless.
Par 8 Innumerable anecdotes are told of him. He built his colorful personality as an actor would portray a rôle. He was a monarch of music, self confident, intolerant, unmindful of all perspectives save those that spelled beauty in tone and phrase.

The Two Pachmanns

Par 9 "There are for me two things in the world," he is reported to have said, "First and ever my music. When I sit down to play I am Pachmann, the musician. But when I sit down to the table to eat I am Pachmann, the gourmet, Pachmann, the man. Gastronomy is the other part of my life and I pay attention to the homage it deserves. All my life I have eaten and drunk as I willed and for the rest of my life I intend to do the same. On my deathbed if I have the strength I hope to be able to eat a last good hearty meal.
Par 10 "I do not exhort every one to follow my example. After all, I am Pachmann, the unique. I laugh at your doctors."
Par 11 De Pachmann's life span covered an acquaintance with figures important in musical history. He met Liszt. When he was a child Wagner himself said of him, "Someday you will be the greatest pianist in the world."

The Famous "Methode"

Par 12 After he was seventy he developed what he called his "Methode" to which he attributed his success as a pianist. He exploited it as the culmination of his brilliant career in which he toured widely and was acclaimed the greatest living interpreter of Chopin.
Par 13 The "Methode" was chiefly concerned with the position of the wrist. De Pachmann believed that the wrist should move up and down if necessary but never be turned out of position. In order to prevent certain hand positions he developed a method of fingering which was designed to eliminate all waste motion.
Par 14 His playing was characterized by exceptional delicacy. Sometimes when he obtained a pianissimo, he would search under the piano as though vainly trying to locate the vanishing sound. He was especially adept in light and lilting passages.
Par 15 Indeed, pianists for many generations to come will inherit richly through the standard he set for tonal beauty, and for his masterful fashioning of a phrase a memory that long will outlive the records of his clowning mimicries.
Par 16 He explained his eccentricity as being the result of the "surging" within his soul. Critics took exception to it, but de Pachmann argued that he could not refrain from speaking during a recital for the strain upon him "was terrible."
Par 17 "And besides" he said, "I receive letters expressing disappointment whenever I depart from the usual." Anything which is not severely ordinary is labeled eccentric.
Par 18 He liked to shock the orthodox with his own opinions on music. He said "I am the world's greatest pianist" and placed Leopold Godowsky above Beethoven as a composer.

Born In Odessa

Par 19 De Pachmann was born in Odessa. His father was a distinguished amateur of music and had been a friend of Beethoven and Weber. Young Vladimir was sent to the Conservatory of Vienna where he won a gold medal. He gave his first concerts in Odessa, but p. 16 after meeting Tausig he decided to retire and devote himself to arduous practice. He was a worker. He said that he played a piece in private some 13,000 times before he gave it a trial in public.
Par 20 The passing of de Pachmann in Rome at the age of 84 is mourned by the entire music world. He made a lasting contribution to piano virtuosity, the effect of which is far-reaching. Regarded as a miniaturist he glorified the term by making miniatures so beautiful that they held their own with canvases of any size. To him the piano had to be eloquent — but it was not the eloquence of thunder or ranting tragedy that interested him. He never was guilty of forcing the instrument beyond its natural borders of resonance; that, perhaps, was the secret of his success — that and the intimate relationship he bore to the highest principle in art, beauty.