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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 67, Number 8 (May 1966)

Clausen, Jean
Paul Badura-Skoda: professor-pianist,   pp. 10-11


Page 11


by Jean Clausen
A   TALENTED couple from
    Vienna are fondly recalled by
music school students, faculty, and
townspeople for their appearances
in Madison as visiting professors of
music in the spring semester-of 1964.
  The couple-Paul Badura-Skoda,
world-famous pianist, and his wife,
Eva, musicologist-are now back in
Madison as permanent members of
the UW Music School faculty.
  Why did they choose to leave
Vienna, a city with the oldest and
richest musical traditions in the
Western world, to settle in a coun-
try which is much more materially
oriented than culturally minded?
  "Don't sell yourselves short," is
Prof. Badura-Skoda's quick reply to
such a question. "This country is
developing its cultural life very
rapidly."
  He contrasts the spirit of tradi-
tion in Europe with the spirit of
academic and musical freedom that
exists here. "Over there, change is
regarded with suspicion. Here it is
welcome. Americans are eager to be
leading in every field; in Europe
the machinery is very slow."
  Modern music, however, is not
accepted any less readily in Vienna
than in Madison. The professor
feels that, at best, modern music has
a limited appeal. "After all, it's
been around for fifty years now,
time enough to find its place if it
has one."
  Prof. Badura-Skoda is a slight but
rugged appearing individual with a
typically warm and charming Vien-
nese manner, and an excellent com-
mand of English. He establishes rap-
port with his audiences very early
in his concert programs and his per-
sonality comes through without the
necessity for words. When he does
occasionally make a comment or
announce an encore, his light sense
of humor is always evident.
  Asked if he noticed any difference
May 1966
between Viennese and Madison
audiences, he indicated one basic
difference. "Audiences know so
much over there. It is really easier
to perform if the audience is not too
cerebral; people here listen more
with their emotions. And even an
uneducated audience can tell
whether a performance is genuine
or artificial."
   He finds Wisconsin students less
sophisticated, less musically edu-
cated than their European counter-
parts. "I start at a lower level here
with most of my students, but get
results much faster. These are the
most willing and. diligent pupils I
have ever found."
  Prof. Badura-Skoda likes teaching
and so does his wife. In Vienna he
was almost strictly a performing
artist. Here, he is enjoying the
opportunity to teach and get accus-
tomed to his new position.
  His wife, too, is looking forward
to her University classes which will
begin in the fall. She is described
by her husband as having "a wide
knowledge, and a special interest in
young people." However, for her to
teach at such an institution as the
Vienna Conservatory would not be
possible. "It would be impossible
for a woman, and especially one so
young," the professor explains.
  Mrs. Badura-Skoda has been do-
ing research and free-lance writing
in one of her special interests-the
history of music. One of her articles
has just been published in Mozar-
teum, a professional musical journal
in Vienna. At Wisconsin, she will
teach a course in symphony for non-
music majors as well as two gradu-
ate music courses. She would even-
tually like to establish a "Collegium
Musicum," a performing group us-
ing ancient instruments, a subject
on which she has done consider-
able research.
  Getting the pianist-professor back
to the campus proved to be a bit
of a problem due to last-minute visa
difficulties. He made it, however,
just in time for his first scheduled
Madison concert on February 2. But
the professor's travel arrangements
were nothing compared to the prob-
lems involved in importing the spe-
cial Busendorfer concert grand
piano he selected for the School of
Music from the famed Viennese
piano makers. The instrument came
by ship and truck, housed in an
enormous crate, and required six
men to maneuver it onto the Music
Hall stage.
  The piano is special in that it has
an extra octave in the bass. Accord-
ing to Jeannette Ross, also a Univer-
sity faculty pianist, it has a tone
that differs from the brilliance we
are accustomed to here. It is softer,
more melodic, more suited to cer-
tain types of music, and particularly
adapted to the taste and style of
Prof. Badura-Skoda.
  A Madison music critic who heard
Ravel's "La Valle des Cloches"
played on the Busendorfer, observed
that here the extra bass notes were
used to advantage. "They repre-
sented bass bells of the largest
variety, and they really rumbled,"
was his comment.
  That Prof. Badura-Skoda and his
wife are being heartily welcomed
back to the campus is clearly evi-
dent. At his first concert this year,
there was an overflow crowd in Mu-
sic Hall, and many more were
turned away. A Mozart number
drew shouts of "Bravo" from the
audience, and at the end of the con-
cert, he received a standing ovation
for his pianistic skill.
  The presence of the Badura-
Skoda musical team on the Wiscon-
sin campus brings inspiration and
excellence to the School of Music
and added delight to the concert-
going public of the Madison area.
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