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The Other Side of the Story.


It is a matter of daily occurrence to hear people sneer at technic. At the same time, it may easily be observed that those are the very ones whose bungling efforts to play the arabesques of a Mozart Adagio or a Chopin Mazourka would make the angels weep. By these individuals we are constantly told that “Anybody can acquire technic with patience and work.” But they omit the most important factor—brains. Patience and application certainly go very far, but if not supplemented by the intellect will never get beyond the ordinary limit. Technic in the highest sense is the triumph of mind over matter.

We all have heard of Von Bülow’s small hands and his incessant efforts to adapt them to the keyboard. It was the prodigious brain of the man that vanquished all difficulties and finally conquered what, at first, seemed beyond his reach. I still recall Essipoff’s exceptionally small hands, which I had an excellent opportunity of observing one day at a class-meeting. We all stood behind her chair and that of Leschetizky while the two artists played some duos by Schubert. In watching Essipoff’s small hands, I could not refrain from wondering at the remarkable results she obtained with them. Results which prompted the thought that her mental

equipment must indeed have been very great to enable her to gain the victory in the face of such great obstacles. A brilliant technic being, to a certain extent, an evidence of mental superiority, as also is seen in the case of Tausig—why is it that it does not command greater admiration?

Some one applied the word Pyrotechnics to unusually developed digital skill on the keyboard. The word was taken up by an appreciative auditor, passed along until we are daily wearied by nauseating repetitions of it. But even admitting it, have we not all enjoyed the sudden flight of a rocket on a soft summer night? And when way on high it burst into myriads of scintillating sparks, was it not delightful? A similar effect was produced by Paderewski in Liszt’s transcription of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. It was dazzling—it made lights in the hall dance before the eyes; it was pyrotechnics pure and simple, but was it not beautiful?

Technic—technic—technic! We never can get too much of it, and although with a good method a moderate technic may be obtained—sufficient to bring the greater part of good piano literature within the reach of every earnest student—we must give a hearty welcome to any improvements, be they mechanical or otherwise, by means of which we may advance the development of technic.—The Pianist.


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