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Long Hair and Pianism. A True Story.


Among my professional acquaintances is one who, in his own opinion, deserves sympathy more than any other one in the world. He is very short and very thin, his eyes are weak, and his head very bald. He earns a poor living by giving piano-lessons and by playing at a cheap dancing school.

When Paderewski first came to this country and created such a furor, my friend was extremely anxious to hear him play. He saved from his scanty income enough to get a good seat near the stage, and, being somewhat timid, asked me to go with him. I consented, as I was anxious to note the effect on my friend, whom I knew to be impressionable. The minute Paderewski appeared on the stage my companion turned his gaze on him as if forgetting all else in the world. As soon as the first sounds rang through the hall he trembled from head to foot and sinking his head, slowly laid his hand on his bald spot.

Thus he sat during the whole concert. When that was over he was till so absorbed that I had to attract his attention. When he turned to me I saw that his eyes were filled with tears. In order to cheer him up a little I went to his home with him, trying to interest him by talking about the concert and the great player we had heard.

As soon as we entered his room, small and dingy, my friend went to the only ornament he had, a small mirror, and made a careful inspection of his bald head. Then he turned to me, and in a voice choking as with incipient madness, grief, and despair exclaimed: “O injustice! Horrible injustice! One is endowed with a great talent and a head covered with splendid hair, while another is denied both.”

Then he threw himself on his bed and wept like a child. Despite the pathos and tragedy of the affair to my friend it was with difficulty that I could refrain from laughing. Presently, when he had partly recovered himself, I asked what there was in common between hair and talent.

“Ah, my friend, had I the hair of Paderewski I would be considered a far better pianist than I really am, and, as for him, he would not suffer if he had my bald head, for he has a great talent.”


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