The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Vladimir de Pachmann

Vladimir de Pachmann

A cabinet card portrait of the pianist Vladimir de Pachmann (1848-1933), noted for performing the works of Chopin, and also for his eccentric on-stage style.

Pachmann was born at Odessa in Ukraine as Vladimir Pachmann. The von or later de as a nobiliary particle was most probably added to his name by himself. Three of his brothers served as officers in the Imperial Russian Army and did not use the particle, as might be expected.

His father was a professor at the University of Odessa and a celebrated amateur violinist who had met Beethoven, Weber and other notable composers in Vienna. He was his son's only teacher until he turned 18, at which time Vladimir went to Vienna to study music at the Vienna Conservatory, studying piano with Josef Dachs and theory with Anton Bruckner. He gained the Conservatory's Gold Medal and made his concert debut in Odessa in 1869, but until 1882 he appeared in public infrequently, spending his time in further study. He then toured throughout Europe and the United States, and was acclaimed as a top player of his era. His programmes consisted almost exclusively of the works of Chopin, with only an occasional movement by Bach, Scarlatti, Mendelssohn or Henselt.

Pachmann was one of the earliest to make recordings of his work, beginning in 1906 with recordings for the Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and in 1907 for the gramophone. He was also famous for gestures, muttering, and addressing the audience during his performance; the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica judiciously characterized it as the ‘playfulness of his platform manner,’ while George Bernard Shaw reported that he ‘gave his well-known pantomimic performance, with accompaniments by Chopin.’

In April 1884 Pachmann married the Australian-born British pianist Maggie Okey, who was later known as Marguérite de Pachmann. They did concert tours of Europe together and had three sons, one of whom died in infancy. The marriage ended after seven years.

Vladimir de Pachmann died in Rome in 1933, aged 84.

Photographed by Elliott and Fry of 55, Baker Street, London.


Code: 125490
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© Paul Frecker 2019