Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Boreham on The Difference that Passion Plays

In an essay about falling in love and the impact that love has on a person or an artist, F W Boreham has this to say:

I was shown a most interesting letter [written by] an accomplished pianist concerning music and musicians…..The writer speaks of her acquaintance with a certain eminent pianist whose recitals crowd the most spacious auditoriums in Europe with ecstatic admirers. But, our correspondent goes on to say, there is just one thing lacking. This brilliant pianist is a lonely, taciturn man, and a certain coldness and aloofness steal into his play.

And then the writer of our letter mentions the name of a woman pianist. That name is a household word in musical circles the wide world over; and the writer says that, to her personal knowledge, this illustrious lady one day laid her hand on the shoulder of the brilliant young performer, and said: “Will you let me tell you, my boy, that your playing lacks one thing. So far you have missed the greatest thing in the world. And, unless you fall in love, there will always be a certain cold perfection about your music. Unless you come to love another human being passionately and unselfishly, you will never touch human hearts as deeply as you might.”

Now I have confessed that when I read the letter in the presence of the person to whom it was addressed, I felt myself a pilgrim in a foreign clime, as much abroad as an Esquimaux in Italy….I asked my friend, “Did not imagination count for something?”

“Well,” replied he, “the singular thing is that the writer of the letter was a pupil of the illustrious woman pianist to whom she refers. One day, at the conclusion of a lesson, the pupil looked up into the face of her teacher and told her that she had a secret to reveal. “I know you have,” replied the instructor, “although it is no secret.” The girl told of her engagement. “Yes,” answered the teacher, “but it is not quite new; it is some time ago!” “That is so, but however did you know?” “I noticed the difference in your playing at once, and I have observed the change ever since. I was wondering when you were going to tell me!”

Boreham concludes, “It is worth thinking about, partly because the same sort of thing is to be met with in other realms than in that of music.”

F W Boreham, ‘On Falling in Love’, The Luggage of Life (London: Charles H Kelly, 1912), 105-107.

Image: “I noticed the difference in your playing at once…”