Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin Nocturnes
By Anne Louise Massey
So as I light the log burner and sit down with a glass of wine, surrounded by sundry and beloved animals ……. why is it I wonder, that almost every evening it’s Rubinstein who provides my evening concert? My current passion for his playing of the Chopin Nocturnes out of quite a generous collection of music prompts me to find out more about him. The answer begins to emerge. Here was a man who lived life to the full and this, even after a failed suicide attempt at about the age of 20 when penniless, stuck in Berlin, trying to travel to Paris, he was in love with a married woman who kept promising to leave her husband but didn’t and then the rope snapped; he failed to hang himself.
He went out into the street afterwards he felt born again that life was actually worth living and from that time on, he never allowed himself to feel defeated. Imagine our loss if that rope had not snapped.
He talked of the grand, beautifully dressed, rich people flooding in to the concert hall, having probably eaten rather well, the men thinking and planning their next business deal and the women enjoying showing off their gorgeous clothes but the music …… HOW could this little man possibly win them over? Amused, he likened himself, in his dress suit, to an undertaker; the piano representing a coffin.
He taught himself how to project emotion, how to create a sensual pleasure through his finger tips, how by striking the hammers in a certain way and synchronising the pedals he could create just the right amount of lingering tension he learned it from observing a Czech singer called Emmy Destinn; from her he absorbed the quality of sound and tone. In singing, even as in speaking, one knows how and where to breathe and so with music, knowing when and where to pause and for how long. It’s his own rich history and passion for his art that emanates through the music every time. Oh, the dear, dear man …… I honour and revere you. Thank you.
You can listen to it here