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Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann #2743284
06/09/18 07:22 PM
06/09/18 07:22 PM
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This is an extremely fascinating and often hilarious book based on my reading of the first 100 of its 400 pages. VdP's platform persona was a combination of Lang Lang on steroids and Victor Borge, but he was also very highly praised by great pianists like Liszt, Godowsky, and many others. At the height of his popularity he was second only to Paderewski in America and Europe. A significant majority of his reviews(at least so far in my reading) by the most important critics of the day were astonishingly good.

It's unfortunate that most of his recordings were apparently made long after his best playing days and show little of his greatness. His Youtube recording of Bach's Italian Concerto, for example, is so rhythmically distorted that it's almost impossible to listen to.

The book is filled with endless full reviews of his concerts and anecdotes. I would like to share just one of the probably less well known stories.

In 1891, at the age of 43, he played the Chopin F minor Concerto(his most perfomred concerto for which he was particularly famous) in Boston with the conductor Arthur Nikisch, probably one of the greatest conductors of all time. He had started using the score when playing concerti because of a concert where he had a particularly bad memory lapse and received terrible reviews.

As a joke he told the orchestra librarian who was the page turner to set the score upside down on the music desk. Then, according to Nikisch:
“DePachman was quietly fanning himself with his handkerchief during the orchestral introduction when he suddenly stopped and glared at the music with great astonishment. Then he began laughing and gesticulating, first to the page turner, then to the audience as he turned the music right side up. His pantomime showed clearly what he thought of the page turner, but his hilarity began to grow and grow until finally he was unable to play the solo part at the time of entrance. The audience was enjoying the situation immensely, and showed their appreciation with laughter and applause, de Pachman rising repeatedly to acknowledge the same. Then turning to me he said “You see, I receive applause before I have played even a single note.””

In the next concert the orchestra decided to get even by playing a joke on him. For the page turner they chose one of the orchestra members who could talk in a kind of made up Chinese speech. Every time De Pachmann started talking to him during the performance (which was all the time), the page turner responded in his fake Chinese. De Pachman was so perplexed he had difficulty finish the piece!

Anyone read this book?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/09/18 07:24 PM.
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Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: pianoloverus] #2743423
06/10/18 12:52 PM
06/10/18 12:52 PM
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That's a hard act to follow (I mean your post, not just Pachmann) grin ....but just wanted to say, stories like those are great. And he had lots of them. Pachmann stories are like, we're not sure whether to think he was hilarious or a jerk. Probably both are accurate.

His playing has often been derided, because of both his clowning and the nature of his playing.
What about his playing? Several things:
-- the extremeness of his "romanticism" especially by modern standards
-- the lack of depth (at least on how his playing is commonly regarded)
-- the technical deficiency.

But, a couple of things about that. As I understand, including from someone who heard him when he wasn't so very old, his technical capability wasn't deficient until his later years.
And, some would say -- including me -- that his playing may be the closest hint we have of how Chopin's playing may have sounded.

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: Mark_C] #2743485
06/10/18 05:04 PM
06/10/18 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
And, some would say -- including me -- that his playing may be the closest hint we have of how Chopin's playing may have sounded.
Certainly hope not.- but you may have a point.


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Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: pianoloverus] #2743517
06/10/18 07:43 PM
06/10/18 07:43 PM
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I've always believed that he never thought much of recordings and didnt think that industry would really take off. Which explained his cavalier way at the piano and especially his horrible rendition of the Godowsky-Chopin Etude which he made available on record. That said he did command the respect of famous pianists in is prime. Paderewski also had a limited technique but also was respected for his beautiful tone and musicianship. Both in their heyday had enormous charisma which I suspect was a considerable impetus to their careers.

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Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: Carey] #2743541
06/10/18 10:11 PM
06/10/18 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Mark_C
And, some would say -- including me -- that his playing may be the closest hint we have of how Chopin's playing may have sounded.
Certainly hope not.- but you may have a point.

Notice I only said "hint of".....

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: Mark_C] #2743542
06/10/18 10:21 PM
06/10/18 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Mark_C
And, some would say -- including me -- that his playing may be the closest hint we have of how Chopin's playing may have sounded.
Certainly hope not.- but you may have a point.

Notice I only said "hint of".....
You had me at "closest" grin


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Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: Carey] #2743547
06/10/18 11:01 PM
06/10/18 11:01 PM
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His rubatos, gradations of soft dynamics, and general sensitivity make his playing strike me (and others) as being more along the lines of what was said about Chopin than the playing of anyone else since recordings began.

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: Mark_C] #2743557
06/11/18 12:53 AM
06/11/18 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
His rubatos, gradations of soft dynamics, and general sensitivity make his playing strike me (and others) as being more along the lines of what was said about Chopin than the playing of anyone else since recordings began.
Thanks for the clarification .. smile.


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Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: pianoloverus] #2743904
06/12/18 02:21 PM
06/12/18 02:21 PM
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Yikes $47.50 for the Kindle version of the book -- actually MORE expensive than the paperback version (which is expensive to begin with)....are they nuts? -- haven't ever seen a Kindle book that expensive, or a case where it was more expensive than hardcopy when new. Makes no sense...costs them practically nothing for the e-book manufacture, only royalty cost, and they don't have to pay to ship it. Pass.

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: pianoloverus] #2743964
06/12/18 07:07 PM
06/12/18 07:07 PM
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kbrod1 Offline
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Yeah, I thought that was kind of absurd as well. Someone believes in Gordon Gekko, "Greed is good."

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: scriabinfanatic] #2743967
06/12/18 07:13 PM
06/12/18 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by scriabinfanatic
Yikes $47.50 for the Kindle version of the book -- actually MORE expensive than the paperback version (which is expensive to begin with)....are they nuts? --
I don't think the hard copy of the book was originally that expensive. But even if it was I think it's worth the price. It's that good. And I have a huge collection of books about classical music to compare it with.

Re: Chopin's Prophet: The Life of Pianist Valdimir de Pachmann [Re: scriabinfanatic] #2744245
06/13/18 09:13 PM
06/13/18 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by scriabinfanatic
Yikes $47.50 for the Kindle version of the book -- actually MORE expensive than the paperback version (which is expensive to begin with)....are they nuts? -- haven't ever seen a Kindle book that expensive, or a case where it was more expensive than hardcopy when new. Makes no sense...costs them practically nothing for the e-book manufacture, only royalty cost, and they don't have to pay to ship it. Pass.


I'll borrow it from my library.


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