MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes




Share page  Visit Us On FB



Previous Contents Next
66                                               MUSICAL MEMORY.
124.   One of a similar although less exacting nature was performed by Ferdinand Hiller, and has been communicated to me by Mr. C. Ainslie Barry, who at one time was a pupil of Hiller's at the Cologne Conservatoire. During a composition lesson Hiller left the class room and went for some time into an adjoining room. In his absence Mr. Barry's fellow pupil played over an unfinished Scherzo for the piano which he had brought to show his master. Hiller having heard the performance whilst in the adjoining room, on his return, inquired why it was left unfinished, and then sat down at the piano, played the Scherzo from memory, added a Trio and repeated the Scherzo, finishing it off with a coda.
125.   Hans von Bulow has always been famous for his remarkable powers of memory. Mr. Dannreuther, in his article on Bulow in Sir George Grove's " Dictionary of Music and Musicians," says, " It would be difficult to mention a work of any importance by any composer for the piano, which he has not played in public and by heart. His prodigious musical memory has enabled him also as a conductor to perform feats which have never before been attempted, and will in all likelihood not be imitated." The fashion of conducting from memory was introduced by Bulow, and his wonderfully accurate knowledge of orchestral scores was undoubtedly remarkable. It is said of him that at the rehearsal for a concert in London, at the conclusion of the performance of a movement from one of Beethoven's Symphonies which he was conducting from memory, after a few moments' calculation he informed one of the second wind players that at a certain bar, so many bars from the end, he had played a wrong note, at the same time informing the offender what he had played and what he ought to have played. But perhaps Billow's most prodigious feat in this direction was the conducting from memory of the first performance of Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" at Munich, in 1865. Only those who know the complexity of a Wagner Opera, and the intricate nature of the score, can fully appreciate such a performance.
126.   The piano recitals which Bulow gave in London at different times bore ample witness to his prodigious memory for piano music, the occasion when he played the five latest Sonatas of Beethoven being one of the most remarkable. The following story of a feat of memory by him, for the details of which I am indebted to Miss Constance Bache, is interesting as showing the wonderful reliability of his memory under quite exceptional conditions. Miss Bache writes as follows: " A number of versions are given of the following story, which Bulow could never hear without bursting with laughter. The following is his own version :I once played a piece in public for the first time, which I learned from the notes. This seems impossible, yet for once it is true. A friend of mine had put down a piece of his own in my next concert, and I had not the time even to play it through. I therefore took the copy with me in the train, studied it in the carriage, and played it in the evening." Miss Bache continues :"I believe it was at Riga, or some other place on the Baltic Sea, and that the account first appeared in the local newspaper."
127.   Whilst we are considering the special subject of playing piano-
Previous Contents Next