Some words about Wilhelm Kolischer

I met Wilhelm Kolischer about 1949/50. My stepfather, a pole, wanted his son to work the piano with the best teacher in Uruguay. Before Wilhelm Kolischer my teacher was Santiago Baranda Reyes. The time I spent with Kolischer was an extremely good one and essential for me as a pianist. I don't know very much about him... He came to Uruguay with Anton Rubinstein after First World War for concerts, probably with two pianos, in South America. When Anton Rubinstein returned to Europe, Kolischer preferred to remain in Uruguay. He founded a conservatory (music school) I attended. His daughter taught as well at this school. The conservatory was situated near the principal avenue of Montevideo: Avenida 18 de julio, first floor. The teaching-room, where Kolisher taught, had two Modele B Steinways and about 20 seats for the audience. I have lots of memories of Kolisher. He smoked two packs of Philip Morris per day and the ashes fell onto the keyboard of his Steinway... He always played the piano on the left side. When I worked the Polonaise by Chopin op. 44, he said to me, after I had been playing the passage between the D-major-motives, that this had been the first time I played correctly and understood the rythm of the Polonaise... This moment I will never forget. He taught me a great repertory and I studied with him La Vallee d'Oberman, The First Concerto by Liszt, the Concerto by Mendelsohn, Ondine, Sonatine and Toccata by Ravel,Les Adieux by Beethoven, Studies by Moszkowsky and other pieces of the repertory. His teaching based on the example: He demonstrated directly from the piano how to play a passage, how to handle a difficulty and he did it with an extraordinary facility and accuracy. Other memories... Many times he received Backhaus at his home in Malvin. He talked to me how Backhaus played the beginning of the last movement of Waldstein sonata. When the auditorium was "dry" he made use of much pedal ; when it had some "resonance" he used pedal more discretely. When Kolischer was unable to receive me at conservatory he made me come at home. One day he played for me a Nocturne by Chopin in Eb-major (op55 n°2) and when he had finished he said to me "That is one of the best pieces of Chopin"... I don't know how he finished his life, but I know that he was the great teacher of my life.

Alexandre Bodak


Foto Micaela Kolisher

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