ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN in HAMBURG (1966) - NDR documentary

Uploaded by bobhairgrove on 22.01.2012

Rubinstein at Steinway's
Documentary film by Lucian Neitzel and Uwe Zimmermann
When Arthur Rubinstein played a concert for the first time since the war... his native Poland, the critics were at a loss for words.
They wrote: "Language alone cannot adequately describe his piano playing".
Would you please take a picture now? Look ... this is my own piano!
I am quite nervous ... What is that? Does it belong in there? - No, no...
Won't it get in the way? ... No ...
- What is it? - A microphone.
Aha ...
But I really don't want to be recorded now...
It's just for speaking.
Will the music also be recorded?
- But I really wouldn't like that ... - No, just to ask a few questions...
Later, after playing for 2 hours on his beloved instrument again,
...Arthur Rubinstein gave us permission to show these images.
And that is how this unique documentary was possible.
It's even more beautiful than before! Wonderful!
- Just beautiful! - We kept the original hammers.
The action parts which were broken had to be replaced...
...but the hammer heads are still the original ones.
Thank God!
That was the most important thing for us.
But this part was destroyed ...
- Yes, the action was all bent up. - And this?
No, that was OK, but the cast-iron plate was cracked.
We had to repair that as well as the pin block...
... here, where the tuning pins are seated in the wood.
It feels lighter somehow ...
No, that is the same.
I recorded the Liszt Sonata on this. I remember it seemed really heavy!
We made the keys a bit heavier in the bass. That gives the bass more power.
I say, just wonderful ...
... and that is for the record!
We tried to do our very best, knowing your preferences.
Let's get a higher bench ...
That one's higher.
I played this just the other day -- that was from the Szymanowski concerto.
It still has all of the clarity and brilliance it had before.
Thank you so much! - We did our best to make you happy!
"A tone is like a comet, dying away in the sky." ... the words of Steinway's voicing master.
He adds: "Arthur Rubinstein is the only pianist I know who not only hears tones...
...but can see them as well."
Thomas Mann called Arthur Rubinstein "a joyful virtuoso";
Albert Einstein remarked after hearing Rubinstein play:
"Now I am convinced that there is a God in Heaven."
Of course, this recording can only give a faint impression...
...of Arthur Rubinstein's genius at the piano.
I had three wonderful concerts in Paris and New York...
...last autumn, it was...
...with a marvelous young German conductor:
... Reinhold Peters.
Yes, of course we know him... he conducted here, too!
He was VERY good! We played programs consisting of three piano concerti...
The first: three wonderful Mozart concerti...
...the best ones, for example D minor, C minor...
The second: the last three Beethoven concerti (3,4,5);
And the third: both Brahms concerti.
Nice programs, weren't they? Not too bad!...
Here in Hamburg, the first concerto (Brahms D minor) is seldom performed...
...practically never at all. - What, the D minor? Ach!
Twice in one season we had the second in B-Flat Major...
...then once again the next season. - Really?
The more often I play the 1st concerto, the better I like it compared with the 2nd.
It has more depth.
The second is perhaps more elegant?
Yes, it is completely different.
That is why one can play them together on the same program.
One couldn't do both Chopin concerti on the same evening.
They are much too similar...
Mozart concerti can always be programmed together;
...the last three Beethoven, also.
But sometimes it just doesn't work.
I would never do two of Rachmaninoff back-to-back, for example.
You know, I own something very remarkable...
You all surely know the famous 'Fantaisie-Impromptu' by Chopin.
The Americans even made a song out of it...
...and made more money than Chopin could have made in his whole lifetime.
- The melody from the middle part? - Yes, it is so wonderful.
That was published posthumously; the works published after his death.
He didn't think they were good enough to publish during his lifetime.
Even though he needed the money, he didn't publish them.
Then I chanced upon...
- How do you say that? - An auction?
Yes, an auction! Thank you very much!
In Paris, an album was being auctioned at Salle Drouot...
...which had belonged to Baroness d'Este, supposedly authentic.
I told my wife that it couldn't possibly be authentic...
...but the hotel, auction house Drouot, guaranteed it.
So I went there, and I bought it.
It cost me a LOT of money!
And I didn't know what was inside the album...
...because I read about the auction just that morning in the newspaper,...
...and one could only view the lots the day before.
And I discovered the most remarkable thing inside:
Chopin composed this for the Baroness on commission!
She wanted to have an original composition for her album.
Chopin probably had a sketch of it already, lying around in his workshop...
...and just had to add the finishing touches.
I edited it for G. Schirmer; it is quite different than the familiar version.
It is much more detailed in the bass lines, modulations, the counterpart, etc.
He was so impatient to get it ready and deliver it...
...that at the end of the piece he wrote: "Friday 1836"!
And it was his own manuscript that you got?
Yes ... you see, he dedicated another piece to this lady:
...the "Andante spianato e Grande Polonaise"... know, the "Spinach Andante"! [German pun: "Spinat" = spinach].
That one he dedicated to the Baroness.
But on this manuscript he wrote: "Composed for the Baroness d'Este".
It's not the same, one wouldn't write a dedication that way...
...Chopin wrote: "Composed FOR the Baroness".
So I had it published, and it was a very interesting thing...
Chopin couldn't publish it because it was her property afterwards...
...he didn't have the rights on the piece anymore.
So it lay around for more than 100 years or so in her library.
Probably a nephew of hers needed some money...
It was the manuscript, wasn't it?
Absolutely! There was also an unknown song by Bellini,...
- ...a composition by Moscheles... - Also authentic?
Yes, original, and also 11 fabulous watercolors by famous painters.
In between the music and the paintings were just as many blank pages.
She wanted only the best. A very interesting album!
I own several different [things of Chopin's] ...
... I have his only passport, bought at an auction in London.
- And now you have it? - Yes ... very interesting things.
Also, I have 89 unpublished letters of Brahms... a woman who almost became his fiancée.
You may have read about four letters of Chopin...
...which were auctioned recently by Faber in Munich.
The Polish government protested, but it turned out...
...that they were legitimately sold, not stolen [in WW-II].
And I have those now.
- Now you own them? - Yes!
To whom did the album belong before the auction?
To a Baroness d'Este...
The same d'Este as the "Jeux d'eau"? [Liszt: "Les Jeux d'eau de la Villa d'Este"]
Yes, that's the one, the same family.
She was a student of Chopin.
But these letters [of Chopin] are wonderful!
He writes to his family about composition ... fabulous letters!
I was able to visit the former owner of these letters once.
They were sold a long time ago by the Chopin family... a musicologist researching Chopin: [Gilles?] Wynenthal in Warsaw.
He showed them to me at his home. Later, he was killed.
Afterwards, they belonged to a musician who sold them again...
...and that buyer brought them to Munich -- that's the story.
- They get around in the world... - Yes.
- But now they are in good hands! - Yes, indeed!
So, collecting is a hobby of yours?
Not a hobby -- never call it a "hobby"! I would call it a passion.
I detest the word "hobby"!
"Hobby" has the connotation of collecting old boots or slippers.
But I love collecting books. Books, books ... I just love them!
Once, Arthur Rubinstein said: "A really good concert...
" not much more than a ray of hope for something better.
"My dream, after a good concert, would be to ask my audience:
"'Please be patient, let me play everything once more...'
"'...I hope it will be better the next time.'"
Arthur Rubinstein is never satisfied with his current achievements.
Perhaps this is one of the secrets of his art:
He never repeats his solutions to musical problems, regardless of how brilliantly done.
For example, his interpretation of Beethoven's 3rd concerto with Toscanini.
Every time this man sits at the piano, the music is created anew.
"If I play Beethoven and then follow it with Chopin, Bartók or Stravinsky...
"...then my whole musical nature changes, and I become a totally different person."
Yes, the touch is heavy, not light.
If we made it any lighter, there would be problems:
Then the keys would run away from you under your fingers!
No, I wouldn't like that! I need some resistance in the keys.
It's still just a bit heavy...
A wonderful tone!
Arthur Rubinstein: the last living exponent...
...of the grand musical traditions of the 19th century.
A period so much richer in individuality...
...personality and character -- and not only in piano music.
No other artist brings to life the German musical culture of that time...
... more than he does: a student of Joseph Joachim, friend of Johannes Brahms.
Unfortunately, Arthur Rubinstein will most likely never perform... Germany in public again.
The quality is just wonderful!
Now show me that book of yours...