excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 95-96 (315 words)

excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 95-96 (315 words)

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Thirty Years of Musical Life in London

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[There] belong to the years 1877 and 1879 some experiences which, for me at least, will ever be replete with interest. In the earlier year I heard for the first time Anton Rubinstein and Pablo Sarasate, and witnessed the debuts of Etelka Gerster and Gayarre. With the exception of a brief visit in 1876, Rubinstein had not been in London for seven or eight years. I now heard him at the Philharmonic, at the Crystal Palace (where I saw him conduct with all the "extra" movements included his grandiose but interminable "Ocean" symphony), and at some recitals at St. James's Hall. He was then in his forty-eighth year, and had attained the fullest measure of his extraordinary powers. Universally acknowledged to be the greatest pianist of his time, the public simply worshiped Rubinstein as an artist and gathered in crowds whenever he appeared. His technique bordered upon the miraculous; his interpretative gifts were worthy of a musician who was himself no mean creative genius; his style, the reflex, as it were, of his massive leonine aspect, was at once the most noble and most original of any pianist I have ever listened to. The fire and passion in his soul poured out at his fingers' ends; and yet his touch could be as gentle and caressing as a woman's. In private life his chief amusement was a game of whist. He loved the game and played it well as I discovered for myself one evening when I visited him at the old Hotel Dieudonne, in St. James's. Quite a number of friends dropped in after dinner, but Rubin- stein simply ignored their presence until he had finished his rubber. Then he went round and warmly welcomed them. After a time he sat down to the piano, and never left it till midnight, giving us a treat that will never fade from my memory as long as I live.

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excerpt from 'Thirty Years of Musical Life in London, 1870-1900' pp. 95-96 (315 words)


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