The rise of the virtuoso pianist during the Romantic period led to a serious decline in the public’s appreciation of quiet musicianship. As a result, so much of the best music from the nineteenth century and earlier did not appeal to audiences, who had come to expect the cannonading and empty pyrotechnics of the worst (though often the most admired) demonstrative virtuosos. It was a problem that persisted well into this century in the playing of Ignace Paderewski and Josef Hofmann, and culminated in the highly charged performances of Vladimir Horowitz.

There is an anecdote from César Saerchinger’s biography Artur Schnabel (1957) that illustrates the difference between mere virtuosity and genuine musicianship. After the eleven-year-old Schnabel began studying with the famed Viennese pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky in 1893, the teacher quickly took stock of the pupil and uttered a judgment that...

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