Saturday, 7 April 2012

Aphorisms (2): Artur Schnabel

This Austrian pianist (1882-1951) who lived successively in Germany, Italy and America, received lessons from the famous pedagogue Theodor Leschetitzky in Vienna when he was a teenager.
Although he played the Romantic virtuoso repertoire when he was younger, he later became associated with the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. His recordings are not always successful from a technical point of view, probably because of nervousness. However Claudio Arrau, who heard him play in Berlin when he studied there, said that Schnabel's live performances during the 1920s were "technically flawless". In any case, for many years Schnabel was considered the greatest Beethoven pianist, and in my opinion his Schubert recordings are still unsurpassed.

Here you can hear him play a Schubert Moment Musicale:

And here in Schubert's last Sonata:


The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides.

I know two kinds of audiences only - one coughing, and one not coughing.

When a piece gets difficult, make faces.

One should never make any music, not even sound one musical tone, without a musical intention preceding it.

Interpretation is a free walk on firm ground.

There is only one good technique, and that is to attain a maximum of achievement with a minimum of effort. That applies to all physical activity.

Sunshine can burn you, food can poison you, words can condemn you, pictures can insult you; music cannot punish – only bless.

I am attracted only to music which I consider to be better than it can be performed. Therefore I feel (rightly or wrongly) that unless a piece of music presents a problem to me, a never-ending problem, it doesn't interest me too much.

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