P0002. GUIOMAR NOVAËS: The 1949 Town Hall Concert, plus Unissued Studio Recordings, 1940-47 (all Chopin; Encores incl. Gluck, Philipp & Chopin). 2-Music & Arts 1029. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 017685102929
“When Guiomar Novaes, the Brazilian who was known as one the foremost pianists of her time, made her American debut Nov. 11, 1915, New York music critics found it incredible that the tiny 21year old woman could produce such a big and beautiful tone from a concert grand piano that seemed to dwarf her. ‘More inspired playing has never been heard in Aeolian Hall, and Aeolian Hall audiences have heard all the foremost pianists of the time, including Paderewski’, one reviewer wrote. She continued to subdue the instrument and to keep the critics enraptured for more than half a century. Her final appearance in New York was in 1972, in a recital at Hunter College.
Miss Novaes was born in the small city of Sao Joao da Boa Vista, near Sao Paulo, the 17th of 19 children of Anna de Menezes Novaes and Manoel da Cruz Novaes. She began to play the piano at the age of 3, and at 4 was playing marches for kindergarten entertainments. The father, a local merchant, was not rich but, with the help of neighbors who recognized her talent, she began formal musical’ training at 7. When she was 11, the year her father died, she gave her first recital in Sao Paulo and thereafter appeared often in public. After a farewell concert at 14, Miss Novaes left for Paris, armed with a grant from the Brazilian Government for four years of study abroad.
In Paris, her success was immediate and remarkable. Among the jurors who admitted her to the Paris Conservatory were Fauré, Debussy and Moszkowski. Debussy later wrote of her, ‘She has all the qualities of a great artist, eyes that are transported by music, and the power of complete inner concentration, which is a characteristic so rare in artists’. Two years after her arrival in France she won the Conservatory's coveted first prize, over a field of nearly 400 other musicians. At the conservatory, she studied with Isidor Philipp, the renowned piano teacher.
Miss Novaes, throughout her long and distinguished career, was famed as a colorist and as an intuitive pianist rather than an intellectual one in the modern mode. Her approach to music was said to be invariably elegant, poetic and intensely individual in her interpretations. ‘Miss Novaes is the most personal of pianists’, one critic wrote. ‘She does things her own way; she makes her own rules….but she has the authority and the music instinct to remain utterly convincing’. Her technique was described as formidable, and enhanced by a robust, singing tone. The Romantic composers were felt to be her forte, such works as Schumann's Concerto and ‘Carnaval’ being particular favorites of her audiences. But for her awn pleasure, she said, it was Bach and Mozart. ‘Actually, I don't prefer the 19th century’, she once remarked.
Nevertheless, she was regarded as one of the supreme Chopinists of her time. ‘Somebody gave me a very early daguerrotype of Chopin as he looked just before he died’, she said. ‘There is much tragedy in the man's face, especially in his face. It haunts me every time I play his music’.
Miss Novaes was a handsome woman whose stage bearing was shy but quietly aristocratic. She was not known for agonizing over her art. Early in her career she remarked: ‘All my life everything has come to me without struggle. Art for some is drudgery. For me it is the greatest joy. Well, I shall play better next year. I wish to give back all that life gives to me’.
She was married at age 25 to Octavio Pinto, a wealthy Brazilian civil engineer who also was a composer and a pianist. Miss Novaes often performed his ‘Scenes From Childhood’ in her recitals. In the Romantic tradition, he had admired her from afar since she had been 13. Their courtship began with an exchange of unsigned post cards, on each of which was written the musical notation of one measure by a famous composer. Mr. Pinto sent the first one, a Beethoven phrase. She answered with a measure of Brahms. ‘It was a great surprise that Octavio might be more interested in me than my playing’, she recalled later. She went home to Brazil to be married, taking three pianos along with her on the ship. The couple had two Children, Luiz Octavio, who became an engineer, and Anna Maria, who became a singer. Mr. Pinto died in 1950, and Miss Novaes did not remarry.
She was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and her many Brazilian honors included the Prize of Merit, awarded by the country's president.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 March, 1979
"Novaës’ playing was never cut and dried….she seldom played the same piece of music twice the same way. Each time, she brought to it a slightly different point of view, and each time the new approach seemed perfectly natural and inevitable….Part of her appeal was in her natural approach to the keyboard. She was one of the few pianists about whom one felt that the instrument was a welded extension of her arms and fingers. A more natural, relaxed, effortless style could not be found anywhere. Her tone, in its color and subtlety, recalled the magic note-spinning of the great romantic pianists three generations [before her], in which Novaës [had been] trained.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE GREAT PIANISTS, 1987 Edition, pp.408-09