excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 26-7 (384 words)

excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 26-7 (384 words)

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My Musical Life

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On a certain afternoon there was neither solo pianist nor violinist down on the programme, but a player on the contre-basso was to occupy the vacant place. I remember my disappointment. Who is that tall, sallow-looking creature with black moustache and straight hair, with long bony fingers, yet withal a comely hand, who comes lugging a great double-bass with him? Someone might have lifted it up for him ; but no, he carries it him- self and hoists it lovingly on to the platform. He seems familiar with its ways, and will allow no one to help him. Why, there are SAINTON, HILL, PIATTI, and COOPER, all coming on without their fiddles. They seem vastly interested in this ungainly couple - the man and the big bass. He has no music. People behind me are standing up to get a better sight of him, although he is tall enough in all conscience. I had better stand up too ; they are standing up in front of me, I shall see nothing ! so I stood on a chair. The first curiosity over, we all sat down, and, expecting little but a series of grunts, were astonished at the outset at the ethereal notes lightly touched on the three thick strings, harmonics of course, just for tuning. But all seemed exquisitely in tune with the piano. This man was BOTTESINI, then the latest novelty. How he bewildered us by playing all sorts of melodies in flute-like harmonics, as though he had a hundred nightingales caged in his double-bass! Where he got his harmonic sequences from; how he hit the exact place with his long, sensitive, ivory-looking fingers; how he swarmed up and down the finger-board, holding it round the neck at times with the grip of a giant, then, after eliciting a grumble of musical thunder, darting up to the top and down again, with an expression on his face that never seemed to alter, and his face always calmly and rather grimly surveying the audience; how his bow moved with the rapidity of lightning, and his fingers seemed, like Miss Kilmansegg's leg, to be a judicious com- pound of clockwork and steam: all this, and more, is now a matter of musical history, but it was new then. I heard him play the "Carnival de Venice”.

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excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 26-7 (384 words)


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