Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Wanda Landowska
General Discussions

Landowska recommendations?

Leila Bataseh wrote (November 21, 2003):
Braley Lehman wrote (November 20, 2003) regarding WTC Recordings - well-temperament:
< My favorite on harpsichord in EQUAL temperament is the classic Landowska. My least favorite is the deadly Walcha set. I have not >
Okay Brad, this is the second time this week you've complimented a Landowska recording, which makes me think I really ought to listen to her. What recordings would you particularly recommend to a Landowska novice, to see what she's all about?

Juozas Rimas wrote (November 21, 2003):
[To Leila Batarseh] I remember listening to an LP with her Couperin. Some bits were so energetic as if the harpsichord had a turbo engine...

Leila Bataseh wrote (November 21, 2003):
[To Juozas Rimas] Hee hee. Well, it sounds more exciting than Rousset's Couperin, anyway, which is the only Couperin I've heard so far - assuming you mean F and not L.

Bradly Lehman wrote (November 21, 2003):
[To Leila Batarseh] The EMI disc of Scarlatti sonatas, and either one of the Goldbergs (EMI or the RCA remake). The EMI of Goldbergs also includes the Italian Concerto and Chromatic F&F, also both volcanic.

She and Pablo Casals didn't see eye to eye (well, maybe they did, in physical stature), and their musical styles were a product of their own times; but they both had similarly strong convictions about their Bach, and both played the daylights out of their instruments. [Yes, this is a recommendation that every Bach lover should have the Casals set of the cello suites, as part of one's collection.]

Leila Bataseh wrote (November 21, 2003):
[To Braley Lehman] Thanks Brad! I'll put these on the "to buy" list. (Speaking of which, the Casals set was the first thing I ever put on that list that was a second recording of a work I already owned. So I guess that's what started me on this long and hideously expensive path ...)

Charles Francis wrote (November 21, 2003):
Try the Landowska / Menuhin recording from 1944 live concert of "Sei Suonate a Cembalo Certato e Violino solo col Basso per Violla da Gamba Accompagnato se piace, composta da Giov. Sebast. Bach".
http://www.classicalrecords.com/static/landowska.cfm

This recording has been rescued from decay and restored to life by Teri Noel Towe, an occasional participant on this group. In my opinion, it represents a benchmark against which other recordings can be measured (and in many cases found wanting).

Reflecting Bach's title of the work, the concert by mutual consent, was advertised as "Joint Recital Landowska - Menuhin", perhaps unusual given the status Menuhin enjoyed at that time. For me, the profound bass notes offered by Landowska's harpsichord facilitate the harmonic underpinning that the optional "Violla da Gamba" might be expected to provide, while keeping the focus on the obligato instruments. At the same time, the use of a modernised Stradivarius violin with steel strings ensures balance with Landowska's instrument. Great emphasis was placed on the historical accuracy of the phrasing, with Menuhin adopting bowings suggested by Landowska to reflect her thoughts on Baroque practice.

I am particularly impressed by the Adagio movement of the F minor sonata. The main characteristics of this performance are romanticism, vibrato, and slow tempo. For many, this interpretation will be something they associate with old-fashioned practice. Similar prejudice assailed Bach's music itself, of course, after his death. But fortunately, with the passage of time, new generations were able to approach Bach's music with objectivity. Likewise, there will come a time, I believe, when transient fashions will pass. In the meantime, this performance comes closest, I think, to Bach's conception of the movement.

Leila Bataseh wrote (November 21, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Hi Charles - I have to confess that this doesn't sound like my usual cup of tea, but I'm willing to give it a whirl - you do make it sound interesting.

 

August 16, 1959

Teri Noel Towe wrote (August 16, 2003):
Today is the 45th anniversary of the death of Wanda Landowska.

It also is the first such anniversary since the death of Mme. Landowska's pupil, amanuensis, surrogate daughter, and keeper of the flame, Denise Restoout.

 

A 2009 Tribute to Wanda Landowska in Lakeville, CT

Christine Gevert [Artistic Director of Crescend Inc.] wrote (July 14, 2009):
2009 is an important anniversary for Wanda Landowska - 50 years since her death, and 130 since her birth!

As a Lakeville resident, Harpsichordist and director of a music program in the area (Crescendo Inc. - http://www.crescendoberkshires.org/), I have put together a Tribute to Wanda Landowska and her legacy with the help and collaboration of many of the local venues and organizations. http://www.crescendoberkshires.org/Landowska.html

This is a humble beginning, and I hope that we will generate the interest and support to expand this project, and also develop it in the future, beyond 2009.

Some upcoming highlights are:
-August 16 (on the exact anniversary of death) "Harpsichord Recital" with Genevieve Soly from Canada in Lakeville, CT (Bach, Handel Graupner)
-September 12 Concert "Bach's Trios and Sonatas" with some of the chamber music that Landowska recorded with Menuhin at Music Mountain, Falls Village CT
-September 26 Concert "Harpsichord Fest" - music for one to four Harpsichords and string orchestra at the Daniel Arts Center of Bard at Simon's Rock College

We have also reached out to the young generation, and are presently coaching 6 very talented young piano players on the Harpsichord to be featured in a recital in October.

Please contact me with your thoughts about this Tribute, - be it your memories of Wanda and her legacy, ideas for the future, or any kind of support for this endeavour.

 

Landowska

Arthur Robinson wrote (June 22, 2011):
Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne, Wanda Landowska's custom-built concert hall in St.-Leu-la-Foret, is endangered. This historic venue, which could be restored easily, needs to be rescued and preserved.

Please visit the Facebook page, "like" it, and then spread the word!
http://www.facebook.com/l/b5945v62nu2-JUVrf3XIvMH3Qtw/www.auditorium

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (June 23, 2011):
[To Arthur Robinson] It is very sad what happened to Wanda Landowska when the nazis brutally looted her place and forced her to emigrate to the USA with one of her harpsichords. (On a personal note, she was very lucky, two relatives of mine eventually died in Auschwitz . . .).

That said, and taking into account plenty of testimonials from her students, including musicians of the stature of Ralph Kirkpatrick and Howard Schott, and published in world-circulation magazines decades ago (see for example Schott, Howard. "Wanda Landowska, A centenary appraisal" in Early Music, vol. 7 no. 4, pp.467-472. Oxford University Press, 1987), mainly dealing with:

- her invention of a playing technique as far away as any old harpsichord technique as one could imagine

- her insistence in playing and advocating, from 1912 up to her death in 1959, ONLY on the Pleyel "Landowska" model, a contwhich has been described as "plucking piano" and deemed to have a sound "amazingle feeble only a few yards away"

- her denial of all the (eventually successful) efforts to revive the historical harpsichord

- her active sabotage of her own students' careers

- her overall strong and negative influence on the revival of the true harpsichord and its performance,

I wonder why, among so many sites in Europe worth preservation, one should pay particular attention to St.-Leu-la-Foret.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 23, 2011):
[To Claudio Di Veroli] EXCUSE please the correction. When Wanda fled France---she left basically with the close on her back. Her harpsichord was stolen by some musical German Nazi Officer idiots who did not know what they had and were using it in their officers club as a bar table or similar piece of furniture. Wanda only got her Pleyel ( now in her museum in Connecticut) back through the efforts of friends and only then throught sheer luck. Her other things disappeared and have never been recovered and this included some paintings she owned. I do not know if she was ever compensated for these losses but she should have been as many other Jews and Civilians were.

Claudio Di Veroli wrote (June 23, 2011):
[To Ludwig] Interesting details Ludwig ,thanks!

You will then certainly excuse me if I add a few further details that are relevant to Wanda Landowska and may be interesting to other members of the list.

I have two comments about compensation. First, lots of relatives of victims (or survivors) of the Nazis never got compensations: this seems to have been done when modern Germany considered it had the necessary evidence which, therefore, applied mostly to German Jews. Of the members of my family that had Jewish ancestry (hailing from Poland, Austria and Italy) during the war they lost everything and had to flee Europe, except for the two that were killed in Auschwitz. Nobody ever in the family got any compensation, not even those many who eventually returned to live in Europe. . .

As for Landowska, she certainly did not need any financial help either before or after the war. As a very-well-paid international performer c1910-1950, she was also de-facto a Pleyel agent, with a very peculiar "modus operandi". Before a tournée, she would be sent by Pleyel a brand new harpsichord. Then in some city along the way she would sell it on Pleyel's behalf. At the end of the tour the buyers would happily get their "mint-state Pleyel harpsichord that belonged to Wanda Landowska and she played upon it here!", while back to the USA a new Pleyel was awaiting for her and the cycle would restart again: brisky business indeed.

Finally, please notice that I do not know these matters about the Pleyels simply by reading testimonials. I was personally told the details about the one that ended up in Montevideo, Uruguay, an instrument I knew very well
when decades ago I was hired for a full overhaul of the thing.

I apologise as I realise that this thread is not really relevant to this forum. Will leave it now.

Teri Noel Towe wrote (August 16, 2003):
Landowska's Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne

[To Ludwig] Denise Restout (1915 - 2004), Landowska's long-time "right hand" and surrogate daughter, was with Landowska practically every day of her life between 1933 and Landowska's death on August 16, 1959. Denise inherited a substantial amount of Landowska's personal property as well as her library and archives. Denise left Landowska's scores, archives, library, 2 Pleyel harpsichords, and Steinway piano to the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C., where they now are.

The exhibition that Martin Elste organized at the Musical Instrument Museum in Berlin in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Landowska's death resulted in a magnificent, detailed catalogue, with extended essays on her career; this valuable book dispels and debunks many of the misconceptions that are rife about Landowska's life, career, and philosophy.

To call attention to the importance of Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne and its importance architecturally, as well as its inestimable value to the history of the revival of interest in Early Music, Skip Sempe has producted on his Paradizo label a reissue of almost all of the Bach recordings that Landowska made at Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne in the mid-1930s.

This package also includes a DVD-ROM with around 150 images of the concert hall and its contents, including the antique instruments that Landowska owned and that were looted by the Nazis.

Here is a link to one internet listing for the Paradizo release: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Paradizo/PA0009

This listing contains a thorough description of the release and its contents.

It would be a tragedy if Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne is not rescued for posterity and restored and re-opened as the perfect venue that it was conceived to be, and was, for the performance of early music.

 

Landowska's WTC 2 reissued again

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 6, 2007):
On the Naxos web site is an interesting new review of Landowska's recording of WTC book 2, made in 1951-4 and newly remastered: http://www.naxos.com/reviews/16_03_2007.asp

It includes a decent explanation of the difference between equal temperament and "well temperament", too. And, some conjecture about book 2 being possibly intended by Bach for the early piano....

The Naxos set is (unfortunately) yet another of theirs that are not and will not be released to the US, because of their concerns about possible copyright infringements. http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.111061-63

Anne (Nessie Russell wrote (June 6, 2007):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< The Naxos set is (unfortunately) yet another of theirs that are not and will not be released to the US, because of their concerns about possible copyright infringements. http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.111061-63 >
Thanks for this Brad. Naxos has many albums on EMusic. I did a search for Landowska and found a recording of the Goldberg Variaitions and the Italian Concerto. There was also an album of Couperin and Rameau music. The WTC 2 album might be put on later.

 

Landowska's Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne

Teri Noel Towe wrote (June 27, 2011):
Ludwig writes:
< EXCUSE please the correction. When Wanda fled France---she left basically with the close on her back. Her harpsichord was stolen by some musical German Nazi Officer idiots who did not know what they had and were using it in their officers club as a bar table or similar piece of furniture. Wanda only got her Pleyel ( now in her museum in Connecticut) back through the efforts of friends and only then throught sheer luck. Her other things disappeared and have never been recovered and this included some paintings she owned. I do not know if she was ever compensated for these losses but she should have been as many other Jews and Civilians were. >
Denise Restout (1915 - 2004), Landowska's long-time "right hand" and surrogate daughter, was with Landowska practically eveery day of her life between 1933 and Landowska's death on August 16, 1959. Denise inherited a substantial amount of Landowska's personal property as well as her library and archives. Denise left Landowska's scores, archives, library, 2 Pleyel harpsichords, and Steinway piano to the Library of Congress in Wa, D. C., where they now are.

The exhibition that Martin Elste organized at the Musical Instrument Museum in Berlin in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Landowska's death resulted in a magnificent, detailed catalogue, with extended essays on her career; this valuable book dispels and debunks many of the misconceptions that are rife about Landowska's life, career, and philosophy.

To call attention to the importance of Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne and its importance architecturally, as well as its inestimable value to the history of the revival of interest in Early Music, Skip Sempe has producted on his Paradizo label a reissue of almost all of the Bach recordings that Landowska made at Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne in the mid-1930s.

This package also includes a DVD-ROM with around 150 images of the concert hall and its contents, including the antique instruments that Landowska owned and that were looted by the Nazis.

Here is a link to one internet listing for the Paradizo release:
http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Paradizo/PA0009

This listing contains a thorough description of the release and its contents.

It would be a tragedy if Le Temple de la Musique Ancienne is not rescued for posterity and restored and re-opened as the perfect venue that it was conceived to be, and was, for the performance of early music.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 1, 2011):
[To Teri Noel Towe] I first came to know Mme Landowska, as a kid, when her Town Hall concerts were filmed and presented on my local tv station. I have since hunted these concerts but cannot find them and presume that if they still exist---they are moldering away in someone's closet or CBS archives. I had the temetry to try to contact her and eventually did but W.L. died while mail was being transmitted. However, I was in contact with Ms Restout but my letters to her have since been lost.

In retrospect; we should recognize that Denise was really the marriage spouse of Wanda in an age when such things were not discussed , same sex marriage not allowed, were considered scandalous and unacceptable in this country although far more acceptable in Germany & France (the American Singer Sewing Machine heirest Princess de Polignac, who had numerous female lovers) and her husband in name only had similar relationships (they married as man and wife for false image and money only)---which is the reason another notable gay couple ---Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas moved to France and conducted notable Salons which also Wanda did also; although more of the musical intellects came to her Salons. Such people as Romain Rolland, Walter Dometsch et al were regular guests. Such relationships of that time were often called 'Boston Marriages' but it only applied to single 'old' maid women who lived together. The explanation for the daughter situation is that the US & British laws of those days and still in many states did not and still do not recognize the human and civil rights of gay couples as equal to those of heterosexual couples let alone other citizens. One way around this is for one or both partners to adopt each other and that then provides legal means of inheritance that would not be available otherwise.

Far too many people are too afraid to discuss the sexual orientation of their heroes and heroines but they should remember that the spouses of these great notables were as much a part of them as their arms and legs and are responsible for the cause of many great works that the greats create. When the break up occurs (as happened to Tennessee Williams) --the quality of creativeness often suffers and some greats have killed themselves when their spouses have died or left them. The same thing happens with opposite sex couples----we only have to see this in Picasso's Blue Period. Of course, most of us are not interested to the deeper lurid details of such relationships as provided for us, unabashedly and openly, by Australian-American composer Percy Grainger nor should we be but these things make up the whole person and have a great impact upon their creativity.

I am glad to learn that the Nation now owns these items but last I heard was that the State of Connecticut owned them and had made a State Park that included the Landowska property. Yes, the property in France needs to be preserved and all materials with it. You can contact the French Embassy and the French Ministry of Culture to see that this happens---just as they have preserved Gertrude Stein's Apartment in Paris and named a street for her.

FYI--Earnest Hemingway, who was taught to be a writer by G. Stein, was forced to flee Cuba. by the US State Department (or be considered a traitor), when Castro came to power. Most of Hemingway's personal effects are still there, thanks to Fidel's admiration of Hemingway, but the House has been falling apart and restoration efforts have been limited because of funds and politics.

 

Landowska's property in Lakeville

Teri Noel Towe wrote (July 11, 2011):
< I am glad to learn that the Nation now owns these items but last I heard was that the State of Connecticut owned them and had made a State Park that included the Landowska property. >
The house at 63 Millerton Road has changed hands at least once since it was sold by the Executors of Denise Restout's estate.

If it has been acquired by the State of Connecticut, that is news to me.

The State of Connecticut was not a legatee under the terms of either Landowska's will or of Denise Restout's.

 

Wanda Landowska: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | General Discussions
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach’s Well Temepred Clavier Book 1 from a Legend

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ęDecember 27, 2011 ę00:11:27