I couldn’t resist posting this.
The Guardian publishes a series called “Facing the Music,” in which “Classical performers tell us about the music in their lives.” The performers answer a set of questions, and it is very interesting to read their responses, and to compare the answers of different performers. In a recent “Facing the Music” article, conductor Jan Latham-Koenig provided his answers, including the anecdote below.
The following quote is reproduced with the kind permission of The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Ltd. hold the copyright to this material.
“How many recordings of the Goldberg Variations do you own? Do you have a favourite?
“I have one and a half recordings of the Goldberg variations. The Glenn Gould, which is still marvellous in its own way, but the other one is essentially excerpts from a piano roll made by Rudolf Serkin in 1928. I was alerted to this performance by an extraordinary story I heard about a recital of Serkin in Berlin around that time. As an encore, he decided to play the entire Goldberg Variations, with repeats. After each variation, members of the audience left the hall, until by the end there were only two people left. When Serkin finally finished, he bowed to the two and recognised them. One was Artur Schnabel and the other Albert Einstein. It is as if the desire to hear this work live even at the end of a long recital was only totally present in geniuses on the same level as Serkin himself!”
I think you’ll find the full article devoted to Mr. Latham-Koenig, as well as the entire series, fascinating. Do check them out!