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Re: GG and Landowska's famous misquoted remark

On Fri, 21 Feb 1997, Bruce Petherick wrote:

> Of course, Ms Landowska was the one who stated after hearing Glenn's playing:
>  "He can play Bach his way, I'll play it Bach's way".  This is my favourite
> "most arrogant statement" about authenticity.  

NONONONONO, stop the rumor, she wasn't referring to GG.  Absolutely not. 
(And she probably never heard GG play anything.) She also wasn't referring
to Rosalyn Tureck.  For the true source of that oft-twisted quote, from
*an eyewitness to the event*, see below! 

There was an extensive discussion of Landowska on the HPSCHD-L list last
August, after the 37th anniversary of her death (in 1959).  Yes, GG is
mentioned in some of the ancillary discussion.  See the digests: 


Bradley Lehman, bpl@umich.edu       http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/  

[clipped from the Sept 96 digest of HPSCHD-L, above]

Several recent inaccurate references on the Harpsichord List to the
notorious "You play it your way, and I will play it his way" anecdote
finally goaded me into going to a dear and treasured friend who was an
eyewitness to the incident and asking her for a written account in the
hope that, in the future, people will not only recount the story
accurately but also in a way that truly reflects the spirit with which the
"infamous" remark was made. 
Denise Restout, as almost every subscriber to this List knows, came to
Wanda Landowska as a pupil in 1933, and stayed with her until Landowska's
death 26 years later as amanuensis, friend, and confidante.  Denise still
lives in WL's house in Lakeville, Connecticut, and, as I know first hand,
this warm, gracious, and ebullient lady has preserved it and its contents
so carefully that the visitor expects WL to walk into the room at any
Denise was present when the exchange took place and remembers it vividly. 
With her gracious permission and with the generous forebearance of Dave
Kelzenberg, I now share her recollections, verbatim and in their entirety,
with the List: 
Dear Teri: 
As per your request, here is the true story of "You play it _your_ way and
I play it _his_ way". 
On June 26, 1941, Casals -- who resided at Prades, Pyrenees Orientales,
away from the Spanish Government, came to visit Wanda Landowska in
Banyuls/sur/mer, a few miles away, where she had been living since she had
to leave St-Leu under the threat of the Nazi's invasion.  By that time
(June 1941) she had received, thanks to a generous loan of money from a
student, a Pleyel harpsichord.  It was housed in a small ground floor
room, not far from our apartment. 
Casals came with his secretary and a couple of friends, Mr. & Mrs.
Alavedra.  Wanda played for them, and she and Casals began to discuss some
aspects of Bach's interpretation, especially the question of
ornamentation.  Casals asked Wanda why she played the trills starting with
the upper note, admitting that he was not certain that it was always the
case.  Wanda explained to him her reasons, and -- for further evidence --
she asked me to go to the apartment to fetch the original edition of
Leopold Mozart's _Violinschule_, one of the very few precious books we had
saved from St-Leu.  It contains a clear description of the way trills
should be realized.  Casals listened, looked at the book, but still was
not convinced.  So, with a smile, Wanda said to him: 
"Mon cher Pau (as she called him) ne discutons pas davantage.  Continuez a
jouer Bach a _votre_ facon et moi, a _sa_ facon." 
"Let us not fight anymore.  Continue to play Bach _your_ way and I, _his_
They both laughed and went on to other subjects. 
A great and long friendship existed between them as well as a very sincere
mutual admiration.  Wanda's "boutade" was taken exactly for what it was: 
a jestful pun. 
When I was told, years later, that this story was attributed to Landowska
towards Rosalyn Tureck, I was very surprised.  I had no proof of it and
always doubted that it ever happened that way. 
I wish that we could put an end to this stupid distortion of the facts. 
All the best,
BTW, I have double, independent confirmation of the accuracy of this
In June, 1967, at the first of what proved to be a substantial number of
joyous and wonderful visits with Pablo Casals, I asked him -- with the
temerity that only a teenager has! -- if the story was true. 
He burst into his inimitable sunny smile and nodded his head vigorously in
agreement.  He then not only acknowledged the veracity of the story but
also told me that WL had been a friend of his since the time of her
arrival in Paris in 1903 and that among his happiest memories were the
recollections of the many times that he had taken his cello to St.-Leu and
played the Bach Sonatas with WL.  {If only we had recordings of those
I also have the good fortune to number Rosalyn Tureck among my friends,
and many years ago I asked her if WL had ever made this remark to her. 
Not only did RT tell me that WL had not, but also RT went on to express
her deep admiration for WL's playing.  She then told me with both
incredulity and annoyance that people were now going around telling the
story with RT, rather than WL, as the protagonist and that she wished that
people who recounted this story told it accurately and fairly. 
Like Denise and Rosalyn, I hope that we can now put an end to the
distortion of both the facts of the incident and the spirit in which the
exchange between two old friends took place. 
Teri Noel Towe