jj-initialsAlexander Siloti on Liszt and Joachim

It was quite by chance that I witnessed Liszt’s interview with Joachim. It was a day on which there were no lessons, and I was standing with Liszt by the piano, talking, when a lacquey interrupted us to announce Joseph Joachim. I made a move to go away, but Liszt stopped me, saying: “Stay here. This will interest you because it is in a sense a historic meeting between us.” Liszt then explained to me in a few words that he had done a great deal for Joachim… and that Joachim had not behaved very well to him. A minute later the door opened and Joachim came in. He threw himself into Liszt’s arms saying: “How glad I am to see you!” Liszt, with the manner of one who is anxious to ward off apologies or explanations, said: “All right, all right! Never mind about all that. Tell me how you are getting on yourself, and what great things you have been doing.” Then began a conversation in which Joachim had only to reply while Liszt interrogated. It was so evident from Liszt’s manner what he meant that I as an onlooker almost pitied Joachim. The conversation lasted about fifteen minutes, and in this quarter-of-an-hour it became evident to Joachim — and to me — that Liszt was not offended, that he had forgiven everything, and only regarded Joachim with the esteem due to a great artist. Just as he was leaving Liszt said: “Now you are here, why not stop and see what our playing is like?” He then made me play. I realized in a half-conscious way that at that moment I stood to represent a school which Joachim would hardly recognise, and I played with special pleasure and Stimmung. It seemed to me that Joachim was glad of the music, if only that it enabled him to sit in silence beside the man to whom he owed so much. [i]

[i] Alexander Siloti, My Memories of Liszt, Edinburgh: Methven Simpson, Ltd., n.d., pp. 55-57.