To many girls the work of an accompanist appeals in several ways. It does not entail a quarter the strain of solo work; it does not need the big memorising feats expected from a pianist proper; and it gives nervous workers a feeling of security.What a distance the profession has come in 100 years. You can read the entire article here.
An accompanist, once she takes her place at the piano, is working not for herself, but for somebody else; and the whole of her mind and ability has to be concentrated on the person whom she is accompanying. The accompaniment of a song or instrumental number is, after all, a secondary thing; but it needs perfection in its execution or it becomes unbearable. The perfect accompanist - of whom England numbers very few - is an artist who gains little credit from any save those who know. For her art lies in the utter subjection of herself to her principal. The accompaniment that thrusts its presence at an audience is invariably bad.
A good accompanist is soon discovered, especially if she has that wonderful feeling of sympathy and self-obliteration, that is as welcome as water in the desert to singers...for many singers are thankful to practise out of hours with a sympathetic assistant.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Ever wonder about the exact nature of the accompanist stereotype that caused pianists from Gerald Moore onwards to react so violently to the traditional image of the meek and docile assistant at the piano? A quick look at the entry on How To Become An Accompanist in the 1910-12 Everywoman's Encyclopaedia offers a rather disquieting glimpse. The most egregious passages are quoted below - readers on mobile devices may wish to sit down before reading: