Back
THE GODOWSKY SOCIETY

The Godowsky Society, which is inaugurated with the publication of this Newsletter, has been founded to further interest in, and knowledge of, the life and work of the great Polish/American composer/Pianist, Leopold Godowsky. This is the second such Society to have been formed. The first was founded during Godowsky's lifetime by Paul Howard, an Australian enthusiast about whom Andrew Cockburn writes in this issue. One of the features of this earlier Society was the issue of newsletters written in a very personal highly idiosyncratic manner and with a prodigious (some might say overbearing!) enthusiast which made full use not only of Howard's intimate knowledge of Godowsky's music, but also of his wide correspondence with Godowsky himself and with other musicians sympathetic to the cause. These Newsletters comprise some of the best source material available; it is intended to quote liberally from these in forthcoming issues of the current Society's publications. Permission to use this material has kindly been given by Howard's daughter, Mrs. Mary Piotrowski. One of the reasons that Godowsky's music is not better known is that it is now very difficult to come by, most of it being out of print (this is also one of the main obstacles to a revival of interest in his music). I have managed to obtain much of it and trying to obtain permission from the various publishers to allow me to let members of the Society have photocopies of out of print items on request for cost of copying and postage only. I hope to be able to give more definite information on this subject in the next newsletter

In addition to Andrew Cockburn's article on Paul Howard, I am republishing 'The Published Music of Leopold Godowsky' by the late Leonard S. Saxe. In this first issue I am including only the first section of this article which concerns the original music the sections on Transcriptions and Educational Publications will follow in succeeding Newsletters. This piece originally appeared in the American magazine 'Notes' in 1957 and although some intending members of the Society may know of it I make no apology for the reprinting as it is, to my knowledge, the only complete list of Godowsky's published work. There is a considerable body of work which did not reach publication, but there is little point in discussing this yet. This list is preceded by a brief biographical sketch which is the best I have come across - Leonard Saxe, by the way, was Godowsky's nephew (and attorney) and it is known that he was writing a biography of his uncle but whether this was completed prior to his death is uncertain. Efforts have been made to contact Saxe's executors in order to obtain permission to print 'The Published Music of Leopold Godowsky' but without success. Should they hear of my republishing it, I hope they will accept my apologies.

Two other items complete this first issue: firstly an article, generously donated by Lionel Salter on the Renaissance transcriptions which is based (or transcribed!) on a lecture/recital he gave on Radio 3 just over a year ago when he played (most beautifully) the first five transcriptions from that set preceded by the original pieces played on the harpsichord, and secondly, a personal vignette by Ronald Stevenson (whose vast repertoire includes some Godowsky and who has given two talks on Radio 3, one on Godowsky as pianist, the other on Godowsky as Composer) on a visit to Leopold Godowsky Jr.

There are encouraging signs that some belated recognition may slowly be coming to Godowsky. Apart from the programmes already mentioned, there have been the recent recordings by Jorge Bolet, Doris Pines and Shura Cherkassky plus two Radio 3 broadcasts in which Tessa Uyes played the twelve Schubert Song transcriptions. Many of Godowsky's own recordings have recently been reissued as have the legendary David Saperton recordings made in the l950's of his father-in-law's works.

The next Newsletter will be issued in December this year and will include the list of transcriptions already mentioned, a discography of Godowsky's recordings and notes on a Godowsky Masterclass by John Hinderer s amongst other things.

Welcome to the Society. Please write! Ideas and contributions for inclusion in further issues of the newsletter will be welcome. These further issues will be produced under the joint editorship of Dr. Andrew Cockburn and the undersigned, who takes the responsibility for the present issue.

It is not proposed to form a constitution or committee unless the number of members warrant it. However, names and addresses of members (unless they wish to remain anonymous) will be circulated at regular intervals so that they may contact each other should they desire. I shall, as already mentioned be glad to hear from anyone interested. One point that occurs to me is that I believe that Godowsky made piano rolls of his Miniatures. If anyone has been able to obtain these rolls, please let me know.

Harry Winstanley

Edinburgh, Scotland

All articles represent the personal viewpoint of the author, who retains the copyright for the individual contribution. June 1980