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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Arthur Schnabel (1882 - 1951) was one of the outstanding pianists of the twentieth century. Though he composed symphonies himself, in what might be termed a "post-Bartokian" style, his  piano playing eventually settled into a glorious devotion to the great triumvirate of Mozart, Beethoven & Schubert. He was the first to record the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle, and I had the good fortune to pick the set up while my 'musical ears' were still being formed. By some internal mechanism, whenever I hear a new version of a Beethoven sonata - and I've had the privilege to hear many great ones, live and recorded - it is first of all held up to the light of Schnabel's towering wisdom and genius.

There have been many pianists more proficient technically. In fact, Schnabel could be a bit clumsy at times. Yet, his minor gaffes are dwarfed by the profundity of his insight. His was SERIOUS Beethoven - not gloomy, or academic, but serious in the sense that he did his homework, and also seemed to have some sort of spiritual connection with the composer. Like Furtwangler with Wagner, he achieved moments of pure transcendence. Listen to the 'Waldstein' and you'll see what I mean..

The one really good site devoted solely to Schnabel is here. Unfortunately, it's in German only..

Jeffrey Chappell has written a nice piece on Schnabel as a teacher..

Here is an interview with Schnabel himself, in both English and German..

And here are two very good wep pages, with personal choices for the top pianists of the century, both of whom include Schnabel. The Piano Wizard , and Mark Ainley

Fellow blogger Nitedivine was nice enough to alert me to a great link site which she thought (correctly) I'd be interested in: Death and Dementia . It of course foisted an ethical quandry upon me. Do I spend a week harvesting links from there, and posting them here, pretending to have discovered them with my usual blood,sweat toil and tears? Or do I give you the main link?

Well, obviously, I chose the course of righteousness tonight. But I'm still going to share a few of my favorites that I discovered there. I'm skipping the occult/New Age stuff, as I think it's drivel, and the horror movie fansites, and many other things that are there if you're into them. You should definitely see what's available through this exhaustive resource!

The Sawney Beanes - everyone's favorite Scottish cannibal clan..

Any Dylan fans here? You probably know the words to 'Hurricane' by heart, as I do. Well, there IS another point of view, documented here..

Finnish Witchcraft Trials

 A classic bit of Americana, Alice Morse Earle's 'Curious Punishments of Bygone Days' . Bring back the 'ducking stool'!

Finally, a personal favorite, 'Hands From the Grave'  tales. Check out this nice bedtime story:

The Willful Child
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a child who was willful and did not do what his mother wanted. For this reason God was displeased with him and caused him to become ill, and no doctor could help him, and in a short time he lay on his deathbed.
He was lowered into a grave and covered with earth, but his little arm suddenly came forth and reached up, and it didn't help when they put it back in and put fresh earth over it, for the little arm always came out again. So the mother herself had to go to the grave and beat the little arm with a switch, and as soon as she had done that, it withdrew, and the child finally came to rest beneath the earth.

Man, they just don't write kid's stories like they used to! No wonder Freud kept busy..
Have a great week, friends and visitors alike..

I am attracted only to music which I consider to be better than it can be performed
Artur Schnabel

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