Vladimir de Pachmann
Pachmann, Vladimir de
Pachmann, Vladimir de
Pachmann, Vladimir de, eccentric Russian-born Italian pianist; b. Odessa, July 27,1848; d. Rome, Jan. 6, 1933. He received his primary music education at home from his father, an Austrian lawyer and amateur musician; his mother was Turkish. He then was a pupil of J. Dachs at the Vienna Cons. (1866–68), graduating with the Gold Medal. He began his concert career with a tour of Russia in 1869, but he was 40 years old before he made a decisive impact on the international scene. His first American tour, in 1891, was sensationally successful, and it was in America that he began exhibiting his curious eccentricities, some of them undoubtedly calculated to produce shock effect: he made grimaces when he did not like his own playing and shouted “Bravo!” when he played a number to his satisfaction; even more bizarre was his crawling under the grand piano after the concert, claiming that he was looking for the wrong notes he had accidentally hit; all this could be explained as idiosyncratic behavior, but he also allowed himself to mutilate the music itself, by inserting arpeggios between phrases and extra chords at the end of a piece. Most American critics were outraged by his shenanigans, but some, notably Philip Hale, found mitigation in the poetic quality of his interpretations. Pachmann was particularly emotional in playing Chopin, when his facial contortions became quite obnoxious; James Huneker dubbed him “Chopinzee.” Pachmann did not lack official honors; in 1885, on his tour of Denmark, he was made a Knight of the Order of Danebrog, and in 1916 the Royal Phil. Society of London awarded him its Gold Medal He made his last tour of the U.S. in 1925, then spent his last years in Italy, becoming a naturalized Italian citizen in 1928. His personal life was turbulent; he married frequently (the exact number of his wives is in dispute). His first wife was his pupil, the Australian Maggie Oakey (1864–1952), who toured as Marguerite de Pachmann from the time of their marriage (1884) until their divorce (1895); she later married a French lawyer, becoming known as Marguerite de Pachmann-Labori. Pachmann and his first wife had a son, Adrian de Pachmann (c. 1893–1937), who also became a pianist.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire