On first meeting Paul Dukas, in a letter to Mihail Jora (November 19, 1934)

On my first lesson I played the suite Les tziganes. He found it a fine piece, except for some details. He said the orchestration in the first movement was cumbersome, because I had abused of the trombones, that there are bits which keep repeating, that the form doesn’t hold up, etc. He liked the second movement (“Idyll”) miles better; he added that “the material is of a good quality but it is not always well tailored”. He approved of the third movement the most, and he said that it has the finest orchestration of all, as well as the best design where the form is concerned. So that was the first lesson. For our second, today, I showed him the sonatina. He liked very much indeed: it is maturely conceived and solidly built, he said, and he admired the third variation (the Andante) particularly. At any rate he liked it more than he did the suite. (Which didn’t prevent me from mailing it to Bucharest, even if with less enthusiasm!)

I did some revising before sending it; for instance, in the “Idyll” I replaced, at times, the bassoon with the piano, and I added some woodwind to help the strings with their long notes. With regard to the works planned for this year, I pondered on what I could write and I still think a piano sonata is the best choice. I suggested this to my maestro and he gave me his full approval.

His opinion is that I am actually through with learning and he has nothing more to teach me here. Then he congratulated my teacher for the way he entered me in the secrets of composition. So the only thing he will still do for me is look with an awfully severe critical eye upon the works I will present him. And « awfully severe » is by no means an exaggeration, trust me!!

Biography / Lipatti on...