The critic I liked best to sit next to was
an ill-dressed young man with a large red beard.
His name was Shaw—George Bernard Shaw.
I heard him once utter the word
"monkey" when Vladimir de Pachmann was making antics at the piano,
and I was deeply shocked.
De Pachmann, in my estimation, was a genius to whom everything was permissible,
and I could not bear to have him ridiculed.
Shortly before, he had made a sensationally successful début
at one of Mr. Wihlelm Ganz's orchestral concerts
and everyone was talking not only of his playing,
but of the reply he had made to a lady at a fashionable reception.
It was customary, of course, to address all foreigners
in the style established by Mr. Podsnap, namely, with great emphasis
on each word for their better understanding.
"And what," said the lady very slowly and distinctly,
"does Mouseer de Pachmann think of London?"
The response was immediate and extremely rapid.
"Zat iss not ze question, Madame. Vot does London sink of de Pachmann?
Zat iss ze question!"
What impudence, said everybody.
But his fame as an eccentric dated from that day
and has always paralleled his fame as an artist.
My time was free during the week between the two
I went about Berlin and made a number of friends.
One day, as I sat at Bechstein's large warerooms,
trying the concert grand on which I was to play,
I heard a stealthy footstep behind me
and suddenly felt my eyes covered with two hands.
"Who is it?" said an unknown voice in German.
The hands were removed.
I turned in great surprise,
and there stood a little bearded gentleman,
dressed in a very tight frock coat.
"De Pachmann," he said.
That is the way I met this eccentric genius whose acquaintance I kept
although I saw him only seldom.
p. 135 Curiously enough, this incident
was exactly paralleled when, some years later, I had occasion to call on
that eccentric genius of the keyboard, Vladimir de Pachmann,
whom James Huneker liked to call "the great Chopinzee".
Pachmann said, "I wish to show you something very interesting."
He left the room and returned a moment later attired in a dirty old
dressing gown, much too tight for his chubby form.
"This dressing gown," he told me, "belonged to Chopin.
It makes you cry, n'est ce pas?"