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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    DAME MOURA LYMPANY


A Wigmore Hall recital was suggested, which was successful. Moura was engaged to appear at Croydon with Sir Thomas Beecham in this same concerto. Fixedly gazing at his beard, she courageously addressed him: 'Sir Thomas, I fear I play the concerto a little differently from the usual way; the first movement more moderato, the second a little quicker than usual, and the third slower than usual.' He paused before replying: 'My dear young lady, it is your concerto and I will follow everything you do.'

Verne suddenly died. What should she do? A concert with the British Women's Orchestra was imminent in works by Delius and d'Indy that attracted critical attention. Personal friend and critic Clinton Gray-Fisk came up with the answer -she should go to Tobias Matthay. The 'Matthay Method' comprised 20 books which nobody understood. Over 80, he was living at High Marley in Haslemere, having taught Myra Hess, Irene Scharrer, Eileen Joyce, Harriet Cohen and Clifford Curzon.

For Moura, his appearance was love at first sight. During her first lesson he explained more to her in one sentence than she had managed to discover from all his books. 'Uncle Tobs', as he was called, insisted that all music must be memorised, stipulating that she concentrate on what she had to play that moment, and the rest would suggest itself in the mind. Any self-doubts of trying to remember would result in interruption of the sequence and inevitable breakdown. If she couldn't play thirds quick enough, he told her to use less pressure. With octaves, she should approach them very close to the keys, almost legato, fancying them as if she was playing an ordinary tune.

Matthay suggested she should enter the Young Musicians' Competition in Brussels, in memory of Eugène Ysaye. June 1938 was the date of the next one for pianists. She would stand a very good chance. Although unconvinced, she agreed. Now 21, she had to study a new Concerto by Jean Absil, and with the aid of Emil Gilels playing the orchestral part she memorised the whole work by heart. Besides Gilels, the other Russian finalist was Jakob Flier; one or other was expected to win. In the event Gilels won, but Moura came second in front of Flier. Michelangeli, four years her junior came seventh. His fingers had seized up through over-practice.

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Copyright © 29 May 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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