Ferruccio Busoni, the Duo-Art and Bach's Chaconne: Francis Bowdery
Busoni's most well-known Bach transcription is undoubtedly that of the Chaconne from the Violin Partita BWV 1004. It was first performed by its author
in Boston, USA on 30 January 1893, and published not long after by Breitkopf and Härtel with a dedication to Eugen d'Albert - who preferred Brahms'
left hand solo version. The 1893 first edition differs substantially from that now in print; like others of Busoni's Bach transcriptions it was rethought and
reworked, in this case through four editions, up to its final form. Breitkopf and Härtel's Bach-Busoni Edition, comprising the major and some minor keyboard
(not organ) pieces, also collected together and revised the whole series of transcriptions dating back to 1888. The project was completed in 1917, the
Chaconne being prepared in 1916 for this purpose. Busoni's observations on the piece are worthy of note:
Ferruccio Busoni playing the Duo-Art Recording Piano
'The editor, in his transcriptions of the Preludes and Fugues in D, Eb, and E minor, has devoted much care to the registration, and begs to call attention
to them as a series of examples in point. His piano-transcription of Bach's Chaconne for violin may also be added to this series, inasmuch as the editor has,
in both cases, treated the tonal effects from the standpoint of organ sonority. This procedure, which has been variously attacked, was justified, firstly, by the
breadth of conception, which is not fully displayed by the violin; and secondly, by the example set by Bach himself in the transcription for organ of his own
violin-fugue in G minor.'
Josef Lhévinne - Reproducing Piano Roll Artist: Mark Reinhart
Josef Lhévinne was born in Orel, Ukraine, on 13 December 1874, receiving his earliest piano lessons at the age of six, from a local teacher, the Swedish born
Nils Krysander. Once the young Josef had reached the age of eight, Krysander arranged for him to perform publicly from time to time, evidently
proud to be able to show off the talent of his quite outstanding pupil. At one such function arranged by Krysander, the Grand Duke Constantine, second
son of Czar Nicholas I, was present, and the eleven year old Lhévinne played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and the Wagner-Liszt Pilgrims' March from
Tannhäuser. The Duke was greatly impressed by Josef's playing, and as a result, arranged for him to study at the Moscow Conservatoire under the tutelage of
Vassily Safonov, who gave him lessons every day.
Josef Lhévinne, Concert Pianist (1874-1944)
In November 1889, a Jubilee Gala Concert in honour of Anton Rubinstein was held at the Moscow Conservatoire, in which a number of students took part.
Lhévinne and a cellist played Rubinstein's Sonata, Op. 11/2, and the composer's own opinion was sufficiently favourable for him to ask Safonov
to allow the young pianist to take part in an annual benefit concert for the widows and orphans of musicians. On that subsequent occasion, the fifteen-year-old
Lhévinne played Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, under the baton of Rubinstein himself. The Moscow critic, Nicholas Kashkin, writing in
Russkie Vedomosti (Russian News), observed that the young Lhévinne already showed the qualities of a virtuoso, with a colossal technique and perfect tone
colouring, characteristics hardly to be expected from someone of his tender age.
Mechanical Piano-Players: G.C. Ashton Jonson
Wagner once said that musical masterpieces are kept alive at the pianoforte desks of amateurs, and it is through the medium of the sometimes unjustly
despised pianoforte that we have the opportunity of becoming familiar not only with pianoforte music, but with orchestral and choral works, by means of
pianoforte arrangements. But the most accomplished head of a musical staff in a school or college cannot possibly devote the time necessary to being able
to play an enormous, not to say unlimited, range of new and difficult music in order that a wide and comprehensive knowledge of musical literature should
be the privilege of all his pupils. And this is where the Pianola comes in.
Now what exactly is the Pianola? The word itself is really the trade name for the particular make of mechanical piano-player manufactured by the Aeolian
Company, of New York, and the allied Company called the Orchestrelle Company, of 135, New Bond Street, London. Now I do not know whether
these two companies take it as a compliment or consider it a nuisance, but the general public and the Press have adopted the term 'Pianola' as a generic term
for all mechanical piano-player devices. It is a short and convenient and not uneuphonious word that has found its way into the language. You meet it in the
up-to-date novel and in the comic papers, where the jokes about it would fall flat if the humour-assassinating term 'mechanical piano-player' had to be
used every time on pain of an action for infringement by the Orchestrelle Company.