Friday, April 22, 2016

Genius Forgotten - Three Musicians in Obscurity...

When doing studies in Germany, much of my time there was in Frankfurt am Main, which contains  two musical  treasures; one, the Hoch Conservatory. One of the notables on its faculty was Clara Wieck Schumann, wife of the legendary composer, and, arguably, the most powerful woman pianist of her time. The other is the Three Kings Church, which houses a wonderful organ which I actually played on during my brief time with its organist, Helmut Walcha. By the way, Frankfurt also is the home of the Palmengarten, which I used as a practice base when I did a tour for the Amerika Haus group during my studies (see  my blog on the Palmengarten).
About Helmut Walcha - a miracle in human form. Blind from childhood, he was one of few organists who had consigned every known organ work by Bach to memory, and was a master of  other Baroque composers as well. I, at one time, had summoned enough courage to ask him about his method of learning. Of course, Braille was the primary course of action. He then stated that another process he used was for his wife to play the music he wished to learn - imagine!
And about Henryk Szeryng - a violinist who should be remembered; but is essentially  not, sadly. He once played for a fellow Pole we all remember; Artur Rubinstein, of course, who declared that "this man moved me to tears." Both Rubinstein and Szeryng performed in various recitals. This violinist commanded international attention for years, but his name is unfortunately consigned to a state of relative obscurity in this new century.
Lastly; about Albert Grumiaux - another violinist, who, like Szeryng, is  not generally known  or remembered  these days. Just listen to his playing of Beethoven or Bach, and  your first reaction might well be "why is this man not remembered??"
Finally, I would invite you to search out recordings of these two violinists in performance with Helmut Walcha, who also was a master of the harpsichord. And do listen to  recordings of  Walcha on the organ, mostly done on the organ at Three Kings Church in Frankfurt. It brings back many vivid memories for me - why not share them with you?

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