A Refined but Passionate Celtic Goddess of Piano Music is no More? No, she isn’t

Detail of a Muse with barbiton – Louvre, Paris. Courtesy of Theoi.com. Click for credits

I today – 2012-4-19 – learn that Pauline Belviso-O’Connor, the subject of this post, is ‘in full health’ and teaching piano at the University of Western Australia (see this thread). Mine was a huge mistake. I do ask for pardon.

ψ

We were blabbering over at Zeus is watching – with the blog owner and with Paul Costopoulos – about music and a supposed relationship between its rationality and a rationality of the universe. Big deal theme, I know, but crystal-clear Domenico Scarlatti’s music proposed by Zeus was much to the point.

I like this topic these days, and I have discussed it also with Lichanos, Dafna, Richard, Andreas, Cheri, Sledpress and others.

In any case Zeus said:

“Perhaps this is where the Pythagoreans went off the rails, but the Existentialists could help us a little. [...]

I replied something and then Paul observed:

“The video does enhance the complexity of the music. However the very slow motion of the tempo somewhat offsets the brisk musical tempo. A bit unsettling, I dare say.”

I agreed and said:

“You are very right Paul. And, Zeus, Paul, since in music I much prefer a real soul to any philology [I was about to propose a piano performance, but in Scarlatti's time there were no pianos, or very few], this to me is the perfect Scarlatti:

Paul:

[Marta] Argerich, and a young Argerich at that, what a marvelous and sensitive pianist.”

At that moment, I don’t know, I made like a mistake, not sensing what was about to happen – mind, this post risks being pathetic, but let me go through with it.

I said:

“Paul, Zeus, yes, she was, and still is, one of the Latin goddesses of piano.

Her way of playing reminds me of another goddess, my beloved piano teacher, not at all inferior to her, oh no, though not as beautiful.

Pauline O’Connor was an Irish Australian, a bit graceless maybe especially when compared to very attractive Argerich – O’Connor was a giant by the way – but more powerful, more refined and definitely majestic, only less spontaneous at times due to Benedetti Michelangeli’s too premeditated art.”

[Argerich had instead Vincenzo Scaramuzza as a piano teacher, an Italian Argentine pianist who justly "stressed to her the importance of lyricism and feeling," born in Calabrian Crotone - Κρότων, the city of Pythagoras, it's like this ancient sage's ghost is stalking me ...]

She in any case ‘corrected’ Michelangeli’s extreme classicism  with her Celtic passion (see this post on Michelangeli, on Italian classicism – and on her in a comment.) She lived close to Michelangeli for a long time, in Arezzo [where I met her], and, after ending up marrying a Sicilian, a certain Belviso, she went back to Perth.

Her leaving Italy for good depressed me quite a lot. I had lost a great mentor, a big treasure, and, at 18, I guess I was in love with her a bit too.

When I finally found a trace of her 1 month ago here, now that I’m pasting the link, much to my affliction I realise she’s no more.”

What a moron, I’m so absent-minded that I had saved the link to the Australian web page on her but hadn’t read it well. A bit of a blow to me, I will admit.

So, remembering that – in my effort to get back to the guitar a bit – and having found on Youtube a piece of music that in some way is her, or a part of her, I mumbled:

So this is a tribute to her. A totally different music, yes, but it strongly (and weirdly, music is weird) reminds me so much of this Celtic passion side of her, and, ok, not at all of her Michelangelian supreme refinement, but passion, isn’t it often better than refinement? Well, I’d say, the 2 things should be often well intermarried for most rich results, as they certainly were in wonderful, unique, fantastic Pauline.

[And these darn Australians, they make you pay for everything! I'll get those paper clips ... and put her picture at the head of this post, damn!]

ψ

[I was wronging the Aussies, registration to the National Library of Australia is free, but you got to be Australian to do it  :-( ]

ψ

Related posts:

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli’s Chilly Genius

[a writing dedicated to Pauline O’Connor's great piano teacher Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. A comment on it tells fragments of Pauline's story.]

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The Goddess is not dead. She lives in our minds and hearts and as long as we have means of keeping her performances in the limelights she will live. I have two EMI CDs of her, one recorded in 1999 with Itzhak Perlman: Music from Saratoga (Musical Heritage Society 5190878), the other Martha Argerich and Friends recorded live from the Lugano Festival 2007, 3 CDs, (Musical Heritage Society 5390858).
    As long as we have that, dear MoR, the Goddess lives on.

    • True Paul, she lives on in our hearts, but aren’t you confusing Pauline O’Connor with Marta Argerich? Besides, as far as I know Marta A. is well healthy and alive!

      • I have confused the ladies and I am confused for doing so. Sorry, of course Argerich was born in 1941 so is still rather young.
        I confess not knowing O’Connor.

        • No harm done Paul. I’m confused more than you. O’Connor was not much known outside Italy, although I really don’t know, this all was 40 years ago, when I was a teenager.

  2. Your memory of the rich details and your ability to express them in English are impressive.

    Finding out that significant people in our lives have passed away jars us into the reality of the moment, no?

    Lovely post.

    • Ah it surely does so much… dear dear Cheri, in this moment of grief … and, do you have Celtic blood? And THAT guitar guy, if he’s not meeting Dionysus while he’s playing – like she always did no matter her icy Mentor – I’m a monkey.

  3. “Her leaving Italy for good depressed me quite a lot. I had lost a great mentor, a big treasure, and, at 18, I guess I was in love with her a bit too.

    When I finally found a trace of her 1 month ago here, now that I’m pasting the link, much to my affliction I realise she’s no more.”

    There is a gorgeous passage of a couple of paragraphs in “The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard” about his feelings for his long lost and first love Clementine, as he, in his dotage, visits her grave with a mutual friend. These touching words on your blog reminded me of that passage.

  4. Another beautiful posting inspiring beautiful comments. Thank you.

    Here are those smilies you asked for:
    :) :D :( :o 8O 8) :P :| ;) :lol: :oops: :cry: :evil: :twisted: :roll: :!: :?: :idea: :arrow: :mrgreen:

    • Richard! That is the most amazing collection of emoticons I’ve ever seen! I’ve already used them! Thanks a lot amicus.

  5. I have to say, I’m somewhat confused – I was trawling the internet looking for details about my new piano teacher, Pauline Belviso, when I discover this blog telling me she’s passed away? Pauline has most definitely not passed away, she was teaching me earlier today! In full health, I might add!

    • Hi Adam and welcome here.

      Are you sure it is her (and not her daughter)? How old is she now by the way? I was 18 – I now am 63 – when I took piano classes from her, and she was older than me, 20 years older maybe. Pls reply to me. You can also reach me at manofroma@gmail.com. Ciao!

      • Thanks, and yes I am sure, she is in her late 70s. She has told me lots of great stories about her time studying with Michelangeli in Italy, and performing around Europe. She teaches piano at the University of Western Australia, which is where I’m studying.

      • That is wonderful news!! May I ask you a favour? Can you e-mail me an address or email so that I can contact her directly? I’d be immensely grateful to you, ok? By the way, isn’t she an amazing artist?

  6. [...] by the way, people seem to read the Man of Roma no matter if he writes or not. He even found nouvelles about his piano teacher which made him happy [...]

  7. How lovely and rare it is to find a long-lost muse, and in spring too! Does anyone sleep in springtime? I bet you’re playing your music. In any case, we wish you joy.

    • Hi Geraldine, happy to hear from you!
      It seems my life is full of long-lost celtic muses. I am playing my guitar, and other things. I too wish you much joy Geraldina :-)


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