Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Arthur Rubinstein

He was the George Best of piano players:

"Two major Beethoven sonatas, short pieces by Brahms and Schumann, and the great B minor Sonata of Chopin were added to it in less than two weeks. As before, and as would prove true for many years after, the processes of my means of approach to the music at hand were made up of a peculiar combination: a clear conception of the structure of a composition and complete empathy with the composer's intentions were always within my reach, but because of my lazy habits, I would neglect to pay attention to detail and to a finished and articulate performance of difficult passages that I hated to practice. I used to put the whole weight on the inner message of the music."

Doubtless his laziness was aided and abetted by his sheer precocity. The piano came so naturally and easily to him that he could get by with half an effort where lesser performers would have had to practice endlessly and still would have come up short. He also, notwithstanding all the depth of his love for music, had a somewhat cynical attitude toward audiences: "I learned . . . that a loud, smashing performance, even the worst from a musical standpoint, will always get an enthusiastic reception by the uninitiated, unmusical part of the audience, and I exploited this knowledge, I admit it with shame, in many concerts to come." Beyond that, he was as much a born playboy as a born pianist. He began having affairs, mostly with older women, when he was barely out of short pants, and he was always good for a party, a game of pool or poker, a boisterous conversation into the smallest hours of the morning.

From this book review.

He had a finger exercise that I am teaching the girls.

No comments: