Arrau talking about playing wrong notes

Here is an interesting exchange between Arrau and Joseph Horowitz in the book Arrau on Music and Performance.

J H / Busoni and Carreño were the two pianists who influenced you most?

C A / Those two. Carreño more than d’Albert [one of Carreño’s husbands], because he never practiced. He used to have a big technique. Then he started losing interest in piano playing in order to compose. And yet his performance of the Liszt sonata was still marvelous. Full of wrong notes, and missed passages. But the feeling was wonderful—coordinating the whole thing, with each idea coming out of the one before.

J H / In those days wrong notes didn’t bother people so much?

C A / No. They thought it was genius.

J H / You mean they actually liked the wrong notes?

C A / Yes. That was the right of the genius.

J H / Who else had that right?

C A / Conrad Ansorge. A wonderful musician. Sometimes he would play nothing but wrong notes. I remember Krause saying, when one played wrong notes, “It’s not important. It’s not important. Go ahead.”

J H / Recordings are certainly one reason that we don’t accept wrong notes as readily as before.

C A / Yes, I think it’s probably the main factor. And then there’s this silly perfectionism that people appreciate too much….

Krause was of course Martin Krause, pupil of Liszt and the most important of Arrau’s teachers.


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