Thursday, June 29, 2017

Anniversary of the Death of Paderewski


I came across this announcement last night while I was reading one of my 'Etude' magazines.  Today (June 29th), happens to be the anniversary of when a great pianist passed away.  The announcement explains where and when, and gives a few details about who Paderewski was.

He made quite a stir in the United States as a pianist.  Many cartoons have been drawn about his hair, which in his younger days was apparently like a lion's mane.  I think he was given a nickname of that sort, the Lion of the piano or something like that.  Of course there was swooning involved by all the women wherever he went.  I don't recall ever reading about what the men thought of his hair.  Maybe jealous?

Leschetizky/Paderewski, Paderewski/Leschetizky.... apparently these two names went together at some point.  Here is a quote from the October 1919 'Etude' in a brief response to a question in The Teacher's Roundtable section of the magazine:  "Although proving himself a great teacher, yet Leschitizky did not begin to be so universally sought after, the world over until Paderewski began to cause the musical world to ring with his own achievements." 

I wish I could have attended a concert of his.  It is difficult to imagine  how it really might have been just from reading statements and articles about it.  There are recordings, and he was a composer, and that's as close as we can get at this point. He did perform in a movie at some point, and I've seen the clip, but that's not a solo concert.

After reading the above, I was wondering if he was buried in New York like many other great musical artists of that era.  I learned something interesting, which is that he was buried initially in the U.S., in Arlington, Va.  However, his body was removed and reburied in Poland in the 1990's.  Even more, his heart has remained in the U.S. due to a Polish tradition.  It currently is in Doylestown, Pa, which is only about an hour from where I live.  I don't think I will go visit his heart, but who knows.  There are very nice music concerts there throughout the year.  Here is a link to a New York Times article about all of that.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday to... Theodor Leschetizky!

Theodor Leschetizky- June 22nd, 1830-Nov. 14th, 1915

I have been becoming more and more interested in learning more and more about this well known piano pedagogue.  I have recently come across a couple of Century edition pieces that he wrote.  I have also been reading articles in the Etude magazines I have found that talk about him, and one is even by him!  I'll have to post about that later.  I think it is an article in which he was interviewed.  The interviewer states at the beginning that the reader better take note of all that is said, because these could be Leschetizky's last words due to the state of his health.  He didn't put it that way though.  I'll post the direct quote later when I have the article with me.  (Actually, here is on the Etude website!)

I also have a record of Leschetizky playing.  At some point he was recorded on the Welte reproducing keyboard, and that was turned into a record for posterity.  Of course it is not the same as actually hearing him in person.  Also, we can never again hear him play any other pieces except those recorded.  Still, it is better than nothing I suppose.  We can glean something of what his playing was like, and still be inspired by it.

He was a student of Czerny, who was a student of Beethoven.  The closer we can get to Leschetizky, the closer we can get to the past in regards to piano.

From what I've gathered so far, he knew how to draw out a student's individual qualities and harness them toward their best efforts at the piano.  He helped them find their own artistic voices, and to be courageous enough to let them speak.  He focused also on a person's weakness, in order to strengthen them to make them more into a complete artist.  He wouldn't always do this in nice or polite ways apparently.  He would try to create an environment (sometimes hostile I guess) in which that person could have a true experience in which they had to overcome a difficulty.  However, he was also self-sacrificing and giving often.

If he was still alive today, he would be 187 years old.  How am I going to learn from a 187 year old man?!  I'll be honest.  I only realized today is his birthday after just doing a search an hour or so ago for a biography that Annette Hullah wrote about him.  It is availabe as a free ebook on gutenberg.org.  It was a neat realization to notice that it's his birthday today.