Godowski, Leopold


Often spelled Godowsky. A noted pianist and composer, born at Wilna, Russian Poland. His remarkable talent asserted itself when he was only three years old, and at seven he had composed some pieces of melody and originality. His first instruction was received at Wilna. After making his debut at nine years of age and touring through Russia and Germany for three years he spent two years at Berlin studying in the Hpchschule under Ernest Rudorff in piano, and Kiel and Bargiel in composition. In 1884 he toured America with the violinist, Ovid Musin. He went to Paris in 1886 to study under Saint-Saens, and after a year of waiting had an opportunity to play before the Reunion des Artistes of which Saint-Saens was president. The noted Frenchman was greatly attracted by the lad and had him play at the Trompette, a celebrated club. Godowski became f his pupil, and was immediately recognized in the most exclusive artistic and social circles. Remaining under Saint-Saens till 1890, he t9ured France, and visited London, playing at Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee at Marlborough House in 1887, where the Princess of Wales accepted the dedication of his Valse Scherzo. In 1890 he came again to America and the next year married Frederica Saxe of New York, to which city they returned after a trip through Holland and England. In 1894 Godowski was made director of the piano department of Broad Street Conservatory in Philadelphia, and in 1895 accepted a similar position in the Chicago Conservatory, where he remained until 1899. Meanwhile he appeared also in concerts and recitals throughout this country and Canada. In July, 1900, he left America to establish his reputation in Europe. His triumph at Berlin on his first appearance was the beginning of the successes which have placed him among the greatest of living pianists. De Pachmann and others even declare that he has the most wonderful technique of any. His repertory is immense and his style broad and brilliant. His playing some call not only faultless but graceful and poetic, others say there is no soul in it, but only masterful technique. His interpretations are often unique. The most important of his compositions are the transcriptions of Chopin's fitudes, Op. 10 and 25. By these fifty studies, opening the way to a new and higher development of the pianistic art, he has won the name of the Apostle of the left-hand. In them the original right-hand parts are given to the left, and often new material inserted, yet everywhere possible the original melody and progression is preserved. They show a blending of contrapuntal and melodic style and are so difficult that at first sight they have been called unplayable. These difficulties have been overcome by his new fingering for chromatic thirds. He has also written concert arrangements or paraphrases of other of Chopin's works; of Henselt's fitude, If I Were a Bird; and Weber's Invitation to Dance; besides original compositions which include a Grand Valse Romantique; Valse Scherzo; Valse Humoresque; Valse Idylle; Barcarolle-valse; Marchen; Moto Perpetuo; Polonaise in C; concert studies in C and E flat; Sarabande; Menuet, Courante; Perpetuum Mobile, toccato; Daemmerungsbilder (Twilight Pictures), several tone poems; Scherzino; Melodic Meditative; Capriccio; Arabesque; and songs.