Saturday, 7 April 2012

Aphorisms (1): Egon Petri

Undoubtedly the best pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, Egon Petri (1881-1962) was born in Germany but came from a Dutch family. He later settled in America where he also developed into an important teacher. Petri was a formidable virtuoso who inherited his teacher's taste for the big pieces of the repertoire. In my opinion he was one of the greatest Liszt interpreters of all time, as can be heard here:


Art consists of a lot of very fine details made correctly.

Meter is something invented by man, like the metronome, the clock, etc. 

In playing, think everything in curves: no angles, no stops, and no jerks.  

This is a principle of life: Calm is based on confidence. 

Subtle differences of accent are a case of mental division. Like "men’s wear" as opposed to "men swear". 

Rhythm is something in nature, where nothing is quite alike. 

Pedal: A very beautiful but dangerous instrument. 

Rubato is like a man walking his dog. Sometimes the dog is ahead, sometimes behind, but both go and come back together. 

Phrasing in music is like speaking or reading, observing punctuation marks, and dynamics are like voice inflection. Don't overdo or underdo either. 

Remember that technique is mental rather than physical. Therefore, it is necessary to will a movement before making it. 

Music is so lovely when it's left alone.

Most pianists spend their expression in small coin.

People who talk too much about interpretation are apt not to be humble enough. I try not to overshadow the composer.


  1. Sir Erwin, I have taken my first peek at this blog!!! Wonderful work here. I'm learning things about the great pianists I never knew before. De Pachmann was part Turkish?! He also studied with Mme. Vera Kologrivoff Rubio, reputedly Chopin's last teaching assistant...but this blog needs to be gone through in detail. I look forward to doing so, Erwino. Danke!

  2. Thanks Noshir.
    As for De Pachmann studying with Vera Rubio, I don't think there is enough evidence that he really "studied" with her... though he may have met her!

  3. Listen (with eyes closed -in a safe place, obviously) and this "magical" music will take you from Mindfulness to HEARTfullness.