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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 224 pages of information about Great Violinists And Pianists.

II.

Thalberg had but little sympathy with the dreamy romanticism which found such splendid exponents, while he was yet in his early youth, in Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt.  Imagination in its higher functions he seemed to lack.  A certain opulence and picturesqueness of fancy united in his artistic being with an intelligence both lucid and penetrating, and a sense of form and symmetry almost Greek in its fastidiousness.  The sweet, vague, passionate aspiration^, the sensibility that quivers with every breath of movement from the external world, he could not understand.  Placidity, grace, and repose he had in perfection.  Yet he was very highly appreciated by those who had little in common with his artistic nature.  As, for example, Robert Schumann writes of Thalberg and his playing, on the occasion of a charity concert, given in Leipzig in 1841:  “In his passing flight the master’s pinions rested here awhile, and, as from the angel’s pinions in one of Rucker’s poems, rubies and other precious stones fell from them and into indigent hands, as the master ordained it.  It is difficult to say anything new of one who has been so praise beshow-ered as he has.  But every earnest virtuoso is glad to hear one thing said at any time—­that he has progressed in his art since he last delighted us.  This best of all praise we are conscientiously able to bestow on Thalberg; for, during the last two years that we have not heard him, he has made astonishing additions to his acquirements, and, if possible, moves with greater boldness, grace, and freedom than ever.  His playing seemed to have the same effect on every one, and the delight that he probably feels in it himself was shared by all.  True virtuosity gives us something more than mere flexibility and execution:  aman may mirror his own nature in it, and in Thalberg’s playing it becomes clear to all that he is one of the favored ones of fortune, one accustomed to wealth and elegance.  Accompanied by happiness, bestowing pleasure, he commenced his career; under such circumstances he has so far pursued it, and so he will probably continue it.  The whole of yesterday evening and every number that he played gave us a proof of this.  The public did not seem to be there to judge, but only to enjoy; they were as certain of enjoyment as the master was of his art.”

Thalberg in his appearance had none of the traditional wild picturesqueness of style and manner which so many distinguished artists, even Liszt himself, have thought it worth while to carry perhaps to the degree of affectation.  Smoothly shaven, quiet, eminently respectable-looking, his handsome, somewhat Jewish-looking face composed in an expression of unostentatious good breeding, he was wont to seat himself at the piano with all the simplicity of one doing any commonplace thing.  He had the air of one who respected himself, his art, and the public.  His performance was in an exquisitely artistic sense that of the gentleman,

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