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MMD > Archives > March 2000 > 2000.03.28 > 07Prev  Next

Busoni, Godowsky and the Pianola
By Craig Brougher

I enjoy Dan Wilson's letters.  So I was just thinking about his story
about Busoni's put-downs of his peers.  It is so obvious, once you've
heard about 20 Godowsky recordings, and the entire repertoire -- three
or four of Busoni's slow, exaggerated fluff -- as to who was the real
master.  (Some may like his kind of music.  This is just my take on it;
no offense.)

The classical public, then as now, decided who they liked the best
with their ticket sales.  One of the absolutely finest recordings on
any reproducer is the Etude de Concert #2 in F minor, Liszt, played by
Leopold Godowsky, otherwise known as "Pappy Godowsky" by some very
appreciative and talented youngsters who were trained by him at very
low fees.

In my mind, if Busoni is parfum, Godowsky is the essence of
romanticism, within classicism.  I agree with Busoni that Godowsky
could play rings around him.  That is what he was jealous of.  But,
I disagree with Busoni that it was he who defined the new art of
pianistic expression.  (Yawn).  I believe Busoni would appreciate the
tribute that he represented the mirror ball in the garden of tomorrow.

Godowsky made many times more recordings than Busoni, but only because
his admirers were proportionally greater than Busoni's (about 7 to 1).
You would never read of Godowsky pumping himself up, or making snide
remarks behind a competitor's back.  Instead, Godowsky was known to be
appreciative, generous, humble, and a real gentleman, marking the true
difference between two opposite personalities better than we ever

Remember, too, that it was Godowsky who was known for his summer camp
for young and upcoming musicians.  That was, apparently, a musical
feast every day for an entire summer, and he made himself completely
available to his students.  He was an unselfish man.

So when we hear someone putting down someone else as "the sewing
machine of the future in reproducing player piano equipment," just
consider the source, then listen to the music and make up your own
mind.  Either you know who you like, or you'll let somebody else tell

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Tue 28 Mar 2000, 00:04:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Busoni, Godowsky, Pianola

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