Josef Stalin et al. in Potsdam - July, 1945

from In Pursuit of Music, page 86:

Truman then asked if there was a pianist present and I was pushed forward, playing the first movement of the little Beethoven Sonata opus 14, no. 2, and the Chopin E minor Waltz.  He sat next to the piano listening and then took over again to allow Mozart the last word.  (Cyril Stapleton said to me afterwards ‘You may play for some crowned heads in your time, Denis, but I doubt if you’ll ever again have a President of the United States sit down and play for you!’)

cite as

Denis Matthews, In Pursuit of Music (London, 1966), p. 86. accessed: 14 April, 2024

location of experience: Potsdam


Josef Stalin
President of the United States
Denis Matthews
Broadcaster, Musicologist, Pianist

Listening to

hide composers
Unspecified piano music
written by Mozart
performed by Harry S. Truman
Waltz in E minor
written by Chopin
performed by Denis Matthews
Piano Sonata Op. 14 No. 2
written by Beethoven
performed by Denis Matthews

Experience Information

Date/Time July, 1945
Medium live
Listening Environment in the company of others, in private, indoors


Churchill, Truman and Stalin were all attending the Potsdam Conference. Churchill put on a banquet and the RAF Orchestra, of which Denis Matthews was a member, were required to provide light music to entertain the guests. The incident recounted in this memoir took place in the anteroom where the musicians had been performing.

Originally submitted by lcc5 on Fri, 28 Oct 2016 23:04:41 +0100
Approved on Wed, 17 May 2017 08:38:33 +0100