Seven years ago Edward Fadiman, prominent artists' manager, brother of the famous Clifton, met four men and got an idea. The four men, Adam Garner, Vladimir Padwa, Frank Mittler, and Edward Edson were well-known pianists, composers, arrangers. Fadiman suggested that they form a piano quartette. It was a nice idea. But not so simple as it sounds. No music for four pianos existed - except an obscure work by Bach. it was a great challenge. The four fine musicians set to work. For a whole year they labored - composing, arranging music for four pianos, practicing together - before they appeared together on a program. They were an instant success. Like true artists they work for perfection, and won't settle for anything else. All the above information I secured in the music department of the Public Library, after searching in vain in the archives of the Cleveland Press. There are many more questions: Where are their homes? Are they all married? Where did the four meet for the first time? At the end of their wildly acclaimed concert that night the great velvet curtain was left open, so that eager patrons might go backstage and shake hands with them. I wanted terribly to go, too, but too shy to go alone. Another time I'm going to be a bold newspaperwoman, and gather for you that little human interest story that makes these artists and other public figures more real.
I can still see small, bespectacled, precise Adam Garner (in his late forties, I should say) at the piano downstage left, as they say it in the theater. The swallow tail (or tails) of his full-dress coat hangs (or hang) in perfect pendant repose as the rest of that coat is stretched to the farthest reaches of the keyboard. Because of his short body and correspondingly short fingers, Mr. Garner seems to work harder than the others - attending strictly to business at all times. The other three seem to get more fun out of their playing. Mr. Padwa, to his left, is a direct opposite in type. Tall, broad-shouldered, his legs so long that he must have a thick pad on top of his piano bench, he moves and plays so effortlessly that you begin to wonder if he is just a nice heavy bass for Mr. Garner's brilliant cadenzas. But he took his turn - as did they all - and it would be impossible to say which is the greatest artist. You suspect Mr. Padwa of great depths of emotional intensity. But his Mona Lisa smile broke into a half-grin when the audience wildly applauded his boogie-woogie in Virgil Thomson's Etude No. 10 (Ragtime Bass). Frank Mittler, across from him backstage, is another big man, his red gold hair his crown of glory. He obviously enjoys his music, and with that intangible thing of the spirit he immediately builds a bridge across the footlights - to reach his audience. He is not a showman. It didn't seem fair to place him at the remotest point from the exit, for he has an awkward gait and no affinity for formal attire. I'll wager he grew up on a farm or ranch.
The astounding thing is that these four totally different types of men should unite in such flawless teamwork. No one tries to steal the show. Together they swoop down into a brilliant fortissimo, and together they go into hushed ripples, like a brook that has just passed the rapids. They are amazing. I have their program here before me. But why bore you with listing their selections for the evening? You must have heard them all over the air. But I hope, from these descriptions, that you feel just a little closer to these men, and think of them as feeding your soul with the beauty that God planted in their souls - that they have cultivated so painstakingly.***
Before I close, I would like to fall in line with that comedian with the educated heart, Eddie Cantor. He closes his program with a plea that you remember our wounded veterans this Christmas. All the ballyhoo has died down, and all the tinsel has turned dark. But the pure gold of their sacrifice has not changed. Let us prove to them that we are just a little bit worth fighting for. Let us try to keep bitterness - the gall of our ingratitude - out of their hearts. Let us, each, in our small way, try to see to it that every veteran at "Our Nearest Hospital" is remembered with a gift and a message of appreciation at Christmastime.
Florence B. Taylor
2907 Hampshire Rd.
Cleveland Hts. 18, O.
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