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date: 12 July 2020

Schnabel, Arturlocked

  • William Glock
  • , revised by Stephen Plaistow


(b Lipnik, April 17, 1882; d Axenstein, Switzerland, Aug 15, 1951). Austrian pianist and composer, later naturalized American. When he was seven his family moved to Vienna, where he studied the piano with Leschetizky and theory with Mandyczewski. Of Leschetizky he once said that his teaching offered no method of any kind, but something infinitely more important: it was ‘like a current which sought to release all latent vitality in the student’. Leschetizky in his turn told Schnabel: ‘You will never be a pianist; you are a musician’. And in keeping with this judgment, he allowed Schnabel to ignore Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies and encouraged him to work at some of Schubert’s sonatas, which at that time were completely neglected. So with his début in 1890 began a career which became more and more devoted only to music which, as Schnabel used to say, ‘was better than it could be performed’. He would not have been attracted to a lifetime of piano playing on any other basis. That was the true meaning of Leschetizky’s remark: for Schnabel the instrument itself was a medium, not an accomplice....

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