Heinrich Neuhaus

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Heinrich Neuhaus

Heinrich Gustavovich Neuhaus (Russian: Ге́нрих Густа́вович Нейга́уз, Genrikh Gustavovič Nejgauz; 12 April [O.S. 31 March] 1888October 10, 1964) was a Soviet pianist and pedagogue of German extraction.


  • In spite of the fact that this is merely a childish fancy, there is a particle of truth in it and I only mentioned it because now, with my tremendous teaching experience, I know too well how often even talented pupils, able to cope with their task, fail to realize with what tremendous manifestation of the human spirit they are dealing. Obviously this does not make for an artistic performance; in the best of cases they stagnate at the level of good workmanship.
    • The Art of Piano Playing (1958), In Lieu of a Preface
  • As for the piano, I was left to my own devices practically from the age of twelve. As is frequently the case in teachers' families, our parents were so busy with their pupils (literally from morning until late at night) that they hardly had any time for their own children. And that, in spite of the fact that with the favourable prejudice common to all parents, they had a very high opinion of my gifts. (I myself had a much more sober attitude. I was always aware of a great many faults although at times I felt that I had in me something "not quite usual".) But I won't speak of this. As a pianist, I am known. My good and bad points are known and nobody can be interested in my "prehistoric period". I will only say that because of this early "independence" I did a lot of silly things which I could have easily avoided if I had been under the vigilant eye of an experienced and intelligent teacher for another three or four years. I lacked what is known as a "school". I lacked discipline. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good; my enforced independence compelled me, though sometimes by very devious ways, to achieve a great deal on my own and even my failures and errors subsequently proved more than once to be useful and educational, and in an occupation such as learning to master an art, where if not all, then almost all depends on individuality, the only sound foundation will always be the knowledge gained as the result of personal effort and personal experience.
    • The Art of Piano Playing (1958), Ch. 1. The Artistic Image of a Musical Composition

Quotes about Neuhaus[edit]

  • He was very musical, an artist. Technique in a pianist never impressed me. I never in my life heard a pianist whom I liked just because of his technique. The moment they start to play very fast I want to go home. Neuhaus was very musical, so I was interested. We played much four-hand and two-piano music. He was a wonderful musician and he introduced me to a great deal of music I had not heard. He played beautifully some late Scriabin sonatas, all of which were new to me. He also analyzed pieces with me. He had studied with Leopold Godowsky in Berlin. I was a provincial boy and was fascinated to hear him describe how Ferruccio Busoni played, how Godowsky played, how Moriz Rosenthal played, how Ignaz Friedman played, how this player and that player sounded. He liked Alfred Cortot best of all.
  • I learned a lot from him, even though he kept saying that there was nothing he could teach me. Music is written to be played and listened to and has always seemed to me to be able to manage without words... This was exactly the case with Heinrich Neuhaus. In his presence I was almost always reduced to total silence. This was an extremely good thing, as it meant that we concentrated exclusively on the music. Above all, he taught me the meaning of silence and the meaning of singing. He said I was incredibly obstinate and did only what I wanted to. It's true that I've only ever played what I wanted. And so he left me to do as I liked.
    • Sviatoslav Richter, in Monsaingeon, Bruno (2001). Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations

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