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A personal tribute by BILL NEWMAN


<< Continued from last week

Sent to a Belgian convent as a child her exceptional musical gift was quickly recognized, and from school in London she won scholarships to the Royal Academy of Music. At the age of 12, actually 10 days before her 13th Birthday, she made her first concerto appearance at Harrogate with conductor Basil Cameron -Mendelssohn G minor -- followed by a further concert at Hastings. He thought Moura was a good concert name, but her parent's name Johnstone was not. Moura's mother was consulted. What was her maiden name? 'Limpenny, but what about the old spelling -- it is LYMPANY?'. 'Perfect!', he replied.

Important stays and studies in Vienna and Budapest came next, then her return to England. After two terms at the RAM, her mother arranged private lessons with Mathilde Verne. Madame Verne liked to watch Moura's hands, which she found 'Enchanting....they literally seem to dance on the keys.' Very keen on a beautiful tone, she and her two sisters had been pupils of Clara Schumann and beautiful sound was part of the Schumann tradition.

'Verne always instructed me to play the opening of Robert Schumann's Concerto as written, pacing the chordal entries evenly with the correct pauses between.' Her advice to young pianists was: 'When practising, one should always start by playing the piece slower than written, so that each note sounds quite clear in relation to the whole. Once all problems have been mastered -- tempi, accents, phrasing, expression -- all corresponding to the correct musical dynamics, then it is possible to increase the pace to give a greater sense of style to the interpretation.'

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Copyright © 29 May 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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