The astonishing Australian pianist Edward Cahill (1885-1975) - Recordings and biographical introduction courtesy of The Piano Files with Mark Ainley
|Edward Cahill in recital at Somerset West, Cape Town, South Africa 1955
The unexpected discoveries of forgotten pianists continue. I can't even recall how I stumbled across the website that the great-nephew of Australian pianist Edward Cahill (Uncle Eddie) had created but hearing the few recordings he'd shared on his site, I was transfixed.
Michael Moran has done an amazing job of locating the only existing recordings of his great-uncle - five works set down in South Africa in 1955, when the pianist was already 70 years old - and the playing is not just capable and interesting, it's truly fantastic! Beautiful tone in every note, whether fortissimo or part of rapid passagework, flawless balance of voices, impeccable timing with just the right amount of stretch without distortion, and much else. Leslie Howard and Piers Lane have had complimentary things to say about his playing, and when I shared the recordings with Bolet pupil (and assistant) Ira Levin, he found it to be extraordinary as well.
I asked if I might upload them in a single clip so that they would be more accessible and the response was an enthusiastic yes - so, many thanks to Mr. Moran for making this possible. I've also included silent film footage of Cahill captured when he played at the reopening of the Teatro Romano in Ventimiglia, Italy in May 1947.
I've only just started reading Moran's biography of Cahill and it seems impeccably researched and well-written, and there are some fascinating details from the pianist's studies with a former pupil of and then assistant to Leschetizky, Leonie Gombrich. Other musical figures, such as Cortot, Furtwängler, and Paderewski, make appearances too.
Hearing such astounding pianism from a truly forgotten pianist with these few precious one-of-a-kind private recordings, one really wonders how many others went completely unrecorded and whose great artistry is lost to posterity. At the very least we have these - and others that have fortunately been rediscovered - to enjoy.
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[from Michael Moran]
The Pocket Paderewski : The Beguiling Life of the Australian Concert Pianist Edward Cahill (Melbourne 2016)
Many interesting original illustrations, documents and letters with captions were unable to be printed in full in the biography - a matter of printing cost - but can be seen here:
[However, they may not be suitable to view on a mobile phone screen]
Try and listen to this interview if you can manage the time:
In February 2017, Michael Cathcart on ABC RN (Australian Broadcasting Commission RN), produced a 20 minute radio segment on Edward Cahill in interview with Michael Moran. This was skillfully patched through from Sydney to Warsaw with the assistance of Polish National Radio 2 (Dwojka).
'He [Edward Cahill] witnessed the great events of European history from the Dress Circle. Not just a journey through a man's life but a journey through the twentieth century. Written evocatively and powerfully about music.'
|Edward Cahill playing a C. Bechstein piano at a recital in Montreux before H.M. Queen Ena of Spain, November 1943
The extraordinary private recordings from 1955 of Cahill's playing that miraculously survived the war are performed on a Grotrian Steinweg instrument, his favourite brand of piano, especially commissioned by him from the Braunschweig factory.
Edward Cahill plays Chopin and Liszt :
Edward Cahill seated in the front row on the left of Princess Alice at a private Mayfair piano recital at the home of the
Dowager Lady Swaythling
New Year’s Day 1935