Amy Fay: Meeting the Wiecks


For me, the subject is a little different because I have listened to this piece three times by Clara Schumann. Miss Wieck's performance did not please me at all.

Compiled from the letters written by the American pianist Amy Fay, who continued her music education in Germany between 1869-1875, 'Music Education in Germany' is a publication that sheds light on the period with its understated natural style and rich details. This article is a translation of Fay's letter.

Berlin, 10 February 1872.

Last week Monday I went to Dresden, BiH to visit with JL. We arrived at about five in the afternoon, B.'s maid greeted us. H.'s house is amazing! After two years of coffee and donuts, I once again enjoyed the American breakfast!

Ms. H. constantly invited people to her home to meet us. When no one came, we went to the theater and the opera. One evening he invited Marie Wieck (Clara Schumann's sister) to tea. I am so glad to meet him. He's a great artist. She plays in the Clara Schumann style, but her interpretations are not as spectacular as hers. The touch is faultless. At B.'s request, he wanted to play something for us, but B.'s piano mechanism did not suit him so he could not play. He stood up and said he could play if we came to their house. This offer got me very excited. I could finally see the famous 'dad' Wieck, who raised a generation!

We made an appointment with Miss Wieck for Saturday evening. In the case of old Wieck, the evening before we went home, B. warned us about how we should behave. He wanted us to come in as if we were part of the family all our lives, to greet him with "Good evening, Daddy Wieck". She added that it would be helpful if we had sewing or knitting with us after we sat down. Whatever the case, it was clear that we would stay there for hours. Father Wieck, to those who come for short sittings "What? You think you can get to know someone famous like me in half an hour?” he exclaims, “I guess you came for the autograph?' he would end the conversation. He also hated signing.

We adhered to our schedule, taking into account what was described to us. We were taken into a large, simply furnished room with a grand piano at each end. Ms. Wieck and “dad” welcomed us warmly. Tea was served. Soon the old man became impatient and said, “Come on! Young ladies were going to steal something from me, and if we don't start now, we won't be able to achieve anything." He interrupted our tea enjoyment.

This man, whose whole life is intertwined with music, has a girls' class where he teaches for free. That evening, all five girls from this class were with us. Although father Wieck was very hard of hearing, he was very sensitive to all musical sounds – just like his daughter Clara Schumann.

Miss Wieck stood up for the opening. He was large, only in his forties, and quiet. He played wonderfully, his touch was of the kind that fascinates people. No wonder, after listening to him, that the Wiecks argue that no one but themselves can teach the 'touch'!

He played Chopin's nocturn in F-major first. The old man, seated on the 'throne', announcing each piece, seated in his chair. He ended his sentence with:

“Forty years ago I gave my daughter Clara permission to play this nocturn in Berlin. At the end of the concert, the newspaper with the highest circulation said, 'This young girl has talent; unfortunately in the hands of a father full of strange innovations! Chopin was very new to the public at that time.”

I asked Mrs. Wieck, whom I heard to be a great Bach performer, to play Bach when she finished the nocturn. He said that he did not have a Bach piece that he was currently working on, that he could play a gigue from the composer of the same period, Haesler. He finished the piece with a great performance. Finally, he played the last part of Beethoven's Sonata in E-flat major, but I cannot say that I was impressed by his interpretation.

After a short pause, Mrs. Wieck asked me to play. I didn't want to play because I had been in Dresden for a week and couldn't find the opportunity to sit by the piano. 'I can't do anything if I don't work for fourteen days.'

The old man stood up and said,Now we will do something else' he said, and went to the piano. Three girls from her class sang in turns. He had one of them improvise with a cadence, another sang alto without accompaniment. He was proud of them. He taught his students by all means. They could sing in any given tone. When the Master's singing finished the class, Miss Wieck played three more pieces. One of them was the song “Du meine Seele” by Schumann, which was Liszt's arrangement. Finished off with a gavotte of Glück. Father Wieck announced the piece as follows:

“This gavotte from one of Glück's operas has been adapted for piano by Brahms. The second part may sound very easy to a superficial observer, but for me it is difficult to play with the right timing.”

For me, the subject is a little different because I have listened to this piece three times by Clara Schumann. Miss Wieck's performance did not please me at all. The second episode played twice as fast as the first episode. “Your sister plays the second part slower" said. “Well?” he replied. “i never heard from him" said. It started playing again, but this time slower, and he told me "Is it that slow?" asked.

When I shook my head with a negative expression, it started playing even slower for the third time and from the beginning.Still slow?" asked. When he got the negative answer, he turned to his father and said,Miss Fay says that Clara plays the second part too slowly." said.
I don't know if this fix had any effect, but it insisted that I steal something.

Because I'm constantly turning down "It's strange that a young lady who had worked with Tausig and Kullak for two years didn't have a single piece she could play in front of people." said that. This sarcasm aroused me a little, I sighed at the piano. Beethoven Op. I played the fugue in the last part of the 110 sonata. I thought I should stop maybe fifty times as I played; Like other fugues, if you step out of the spirit of the piece while playing, it is not possible to enter it again.
Even Bülow had mixed it up while playing this fugue at his concert the night before. I finished the piece without any problems as I had hoped, and Father Wieck sincerely appreciated my performance.

He said that I had studied very well and intensively, he asked me if I had played etudes. I said in polite German that I had stolen too much. If they accepted me, I would like to work with Wieckler next summer. Maybe I should work. Although they are considered old-fashioned, they are very experienced.

Baba Wieck was Bülow's teacher before he went to Liszt!


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