The Widdershins

Forgotten Voices

Posted on: August 11, 2017


Happy Friday Widdershins!

If you are reading this then good news: a nuclear was hasn’t started yet! But it is early, so we’ll see how things play out.

This morning I won’t bore you with my thoughts on Dump and whatever the latest shitnado he has unleashed on the world. There is so much happening and it’s happening so quickly that sometimes the brain feels like it will short circuit. So we will stay current on the news in the comments section, as always. If Dump launches a nuke at North Korea or California, please post here ASAP!

Instead I will tell you about a nearly forgotten artist. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and I have not heard of Maryla Jonas until just a week ago when Sony released a remastered box set of Jonas’ complete recordings made for Columbia in the 1940s and 50s. Granted, her recorded legacy was not big, only a bit over 3 hours of music. But it’s amazing how an such an important artist of her day could be so nearly forgotten, even though at the time famed critics like Virgil Thompson and Edward Downes counted her among the greats.

Maryla Jonas was born on May 31, 1911 in Warsaw, Poland. She became something of a child prodigy at the piano and though her father had serious misgivings about his daughter having a successful career as a musician, she did make her concert debut at the age of 9. At the age of 11 she was accepted to study at the Warsaw Conservatory. Over the years she studied with the famous pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

‘When I was no more than seventeen. I played a Ballade of Chopin for [Paderewski], and he said, very calmly and quietly, more pedal here—less pedal there—there, more tone—there, more speed. Such things. Also, he took my music and marked everything down in red pencil. Good! I went home and studied hard everything he had said. Like a parrot.

‘Then I went for a concert to Denmark. I played this Ballade, exactly as Paderewski had said. Well, a friend of his who was there, said it was no good! He told Paderewski I had played it no good. So the next time I came to Paderewski, he asked me what I did to play so badly, and told me to sit down and play the Ballade for him. I did, exactly as he had said. And this time he too said it was no good! I said he himself had told me all this, and he said, ‘No, that was impossible!’ I showed him his own red writing on the music, and again he said, ‘No!’ At that time, I was heartbroken. But today, I see exactly what Paderewski meant! He meant that the first time, he was in a mood to want the Ballade one way, and the next time, not. That is all. But it showed me that teaching can never be a matter of do-this or do-that’. (“The Etude”, February 1947, interviewed by Rose Heylbut).

When she was eighteen , Miss Jonas says an incident happened in her life which, more than anything else, influenced her subsequent career. ‘I had finished playing a whole program for Paderewski and he took me to the window and pointing, he said: “You see that street over there? You see how it winds down into that alley? It looks sordid, doesn’t it. Well, there is life. Go out and find out for yourself. Live an experience and come back to me in a year. You’ll be a better pianist”.

Throughout the 20s and 30s she toured across Europe, including recitals at the Salzburg Festival and Bayreuth. She married a famous Polish criminologist. And then Germany invaded Poland. Her husband and three brothers joined the underground resistance. Her sister, who had married a Viennese Jew, fled to Brazil. Jonas and her parents’ home was requisitioned by the Germans, so they spent months moving from shelter to shelter. They were eventually arrested and after an interrogation by the Gestapo Jonas was offered to be sent to Berlin if she would join the Nazi party and become an official Nazi artist. Jonas refused. She and her parents were sent to a concentration camp.

After several months in camps, a German officer recognized Jonas as a pianist he had heard perform before the war. He arranged to have her released from the camp and advised that she go to Berlin and appeal to the Brazilian embassy for safety. Jonas walked from Warsaw to Berlin: about 321 miles. She slept in barnes and under the moon, eating only scraps that she could find. Finally in Berlin the Brazilian embassy arranged to smuggle her out of the country on false papers, pretending to be the wife the ambassador’s son.

Jonas joined her sister in Rio, but her health had very seriously deteriorated from the long and arduous journey from Warsaw to Berlin. She then received news that her parents, her husband and one of her brothers had been killed in Poland and she suffered a nervous breakdown. She spent several months in various sanatoriums in Brazil. She decided that she would never play the piano again, but at the encouragement of her sister and a chance visit to Rio in 1940 by one of the most famous pianists in the world, Artur Rubinstein, changed her mind.

He had known Maryla in Warsaw, and called on her. He urged her eloquently to resume playing. He told her she was now a representative of Poland. It was her duty, he said, to keep reminding the world that her country had stood for something, and to work and earn money to help rescue other Poles from their Nazi-dominated homeland. She agreed with every word. But she could not play.

Rubinstein was rehearsing for several recitals he was to give in Rio and asked Jonas to come to the theater to offer him advise. At the theater he said he wasn’t sure what the img041_a_200dpi.jpgacoustics of the hall were like, so he asked Jonas to play while he walked to the back of the auditorium to sound-check. Jonas obliged… and found herself musically reborn. She decided to start playing again and within few months was giving recitals across South America. In 1946 she came to the United States and on February 25 gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. That seems to have been a very lightly attended show (someone joked the ushers outnumbered the audience), but a glowing review from the highly regarded Jerome D. Bohm of Herald Tribune: “the finest woman pianist since Teresa Carreno” he wrote. He continued that on her next appearance Jonas “will be greeted not by a handful of listeners . . . but by the sold-out house which such artistry as hers deserves.” Five weeks later her second Carnegie Hall recital was sold out. Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote that “The shimmer of the harmonies, the haunting song that they half revealed and half concealed, was something to remember.” Soon Jonas was engaged to play a Beethoven concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Sold out concerts and glowing reviews, and a record deal with Columbia followed. Jonas also married a surgeon.

During a Carnegie Hall recital on January 27, 1951 she got sick.

Persons familiar with the Schumann work [Carnaval] sensed that something was wrong when some passages were skipped. They were puzzled when the pianist got up after a gentle number about two thirds of the way through. She walked unsteadily to the left side of the stage and just beyond the edge of the dusty-rose curtain she fell.

… Miss Jonas had not been feeling well all week, according to her representative, so her physician, Dr. Franz Groezel, and her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, both were in the auditorium. They went back-stage to attend her and ten minutes later John Totten, manager of the hall, emerged from the stage door to say she would continue the program.

The pianist returned to the stage looking white and shaky, but once she was seated she seemed all right. She played the Nocturne, the Waltz, the Berceuse and two of the four Mazurkas she had scheduled. She also managed two encores, though the last one was given with the house lights on as a hint to the audience not to expect a third.


In 1952 Jonas was stricken with a rare blood disease and put her concert career on hold. She was bedridden for two years. She returned to Carnegie Hall on December 1, 1956. It seems that physically she was no longer able to play well. Edward Downes of the New York Times wrote:

The Andante cantabile of the middle movement was an achievement of rare artistry. But toward the end of the sonata Miss Jonas began to sound nervous. As the Mozart group progressed there were moments of exquisite lyricism, but they became rarer as one sensed that Miss Jonas’ strength was ebbing under physical and nervous strain.


Friends who inquired backstage after the program were told that a physician was attending Miss Jonas. Later it was announced that she was not ill but suffered only severe nervous tension.

This was Maryla Jones’ last concert. She died on July 3, 1959. (Her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, was an amateur cellist and encouraged his wife’s career. He died a few weeks after her.)


82 Responses to "Forgotten Voices"

What a story, DYB! Jonas’ imprisonment in a concentration camp and her terrible 300 plus mile journey on foot — surely when in poor health — must have strained body and mind indelibly. That she was able to return to music, if only for a few years, is amazing.

“shimmer of the harmonies…” I must find recordings of her to listen to.

Incredible story and post, D. Never underestimate the power off music, or the passion of musicians. Especially wimminz!

In Drumpf news today, I see the media trying to present war with North Korea as a viable option. My only comfort now is the military. I don’t think they would obey an order to nuke, especially after he rolled over and begged Putin to scratch his belly yesterday. What a shocking and disgusting display.

Luna, what a coincidence on the post from the Polish government. Serendipity! I just posted a link to this article on their post.

I wanted to repost an article from the end of the previous thread, posted by Fredster. It’s appalling… Many Republicans would favor postponing the 2020 election. It’s really not surprising. A good friend of mine who said Trump was going to win months before the election also always said he feared 2016 might be our last election.

Thanks for the great post, DYB!

Another Rethug prez, another war. “Locked and loaded!”

A nuke war pending because Dump can’t shut his filthy mouth and doesn’t have the brains to keep thousands/millions from emanate death.

Let’s put his prized daughter on vacation in Guam and see if he wants to risk her life.

What a beautiful, terrible story. I cried through the whole thing, especially during the music.
Great post, DYB and what is that painting?

I snuck a peek at DYB’s post earlier because he had it scheduled for Saturday instead of Fri. so I fixed that for him. 😉

And the reason I saw that was because I was again “sleepless in B’ham”. Grrrr. So many things going on right now with me and I just can’t shut my mind off. Another grrr. “Yes doc, I want my Ambien and I want it now!”.

@6: Yes isn’t it amazing that they are just so willing to throw away the constitution because tRump says “2020 Election? Oh never mind.”.

One of Chopin’s most famous pieces, the Polonaise in A flat Maj.

So is laughter truly the best medicine?

Like church, meditation or that morning trip to the bathroom, Twitter is once again a reliable source of relief from the anxiety that plagues us during these troubling times.

Amid all the escalating war talk, at least we know that we can depend on Twitter to make the end of the world feel as sarcastic as possible, in 140 characters or fewer.

Oh thanks for fixing that Fredster! I guess I wrote it after midnight and didn’t realize “tomorrow” was the day after tomorrow. Or the day after today. Since I was still up today was today, but was actually tomorrow and I thought it was still today. 🙂

So now Trump says military action against Venezuela is also on the table…

I think what support Trump had among our troops is trickling away with each tweet of chickenhawk Trump’s on throwing military at a diplomatic (or nonexistent) problem.

@13: I understand what you did, but your explanation left me terribly confused.

@18: I think you’re right Luna or at least I hope so.

Hah! One funny thing — my half-Bengal cat, who gets to go out only on her harness and leash because she likes to escape from our yard, has just dragged her leash & harness toward me, meowing loudly. This is the 3rd time she’s done this! OK, she’s getting me trained — I must take her outside for a while.

Mr. Pundit has some sage advice for the youngsters. Oh and btw he’s speaking from:

sittin’ on his hay bale outside his survivalist bunker in a secret place where he’d have to kill you if you knew where it was

We’ve got enough weed and whiskey to last us a few months. That’s my suggestion: get high, get laid, listen to music, ignore shit for a while, turn off the Twitter and the TV, and go outside while you still can. But don’t freak out. It’s pretty useless.

@21: see ya when the cat let’s you know it’s time to go inside. LOL

Walking 321 miles while sick. I have trouble making it to the refrigerator. What an extraordinary human being she was. I wonder what made her happy?

D, thanks for writing this. I would never have known any of this and most certainly never listened to her beautiful music.

Sorry to be so nerdy, but this graph is a knit one, purl two on why Paulie “Walnuts” Manafort did his banking in Cyprus and Wilbur Ross, currently our Secretary of Commerce, owned a bank in Cyprus.

Before this is over with, there won’t even be one degree of separation on the crimes. It will be one big criminal blob.


Thanks Prolix! Jonas’ story really struck me. And as I mentioned, it’s astonishing that she was all but forgotten until Sony dug into their archive and decided to release her recordings. The only issues of her music were collected by connoisseurs who searched out historical recordings. I’m glad Sony put her name back out again.

I was also very happy to see Arthur Rubinstein make a cameo appearance in her life. I really love Rubinstein, I think he was an extraordinary master of the keyboard. There was always a kind of rivalry between Rubinstein and Horowitz (at least as far as fans were concerned.) Undoubtedly both great artists, but I always found Horowitz to be a bit cold. Rubinstein was a poet. And the role he played in Jonas’ life is a fascinating anecdote that adds to his own myth.

So there’s a white people march on UVA campus. What the hell is happening?!


@27, Yeah, yeah. We know white lives matter. Problem is a lot of ’em think POC’s lives don’t. Kids, put the torches down and do some studying.

@28> Trump is now going to threaten to nuke India.

@29, in Germany these perverts would be arrested and face charges. In the US, they threaten with impunity. Something is very wrong.

@27 & 29: Aw gawd, give me a friggin’ break. How were they ever given a permit to hold that crap on the campus?

The fast-paced march was made up almost exclusively of men in their 20s and 30s, though there were some who looked to be in their mid-teens.

Beginning a little after 9:30 p.m., the march lasted 15 to 20 minutes before ending in skirmishes when the marchers were met by a small group of counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the university’s founder.

The march came on the eve of the Unite the Right rally, a gathering of groups from around the country whose members have said they are being persecuted for being white and that white history in America is being erased.

The Saturday rally is being held at noon at Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park, home to a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that the city of Charlottesville voted to remove earlier this year. The statue remains in the park pending a judge’s ruling expected later this month.

More here:

So the real crap will happen Saturday.

DYB, what a beautiful post! Thank you for teaching us about Ms. Jonas, a much more worthy use of time than whatever I was doing.

I also love Arthur Rubinstein, and was discussing all of this with my son, who got in a few minutes ago, and now he is searching youtube for Rubenstein.

@33, god, just like Germany in the 30’s. And in Guam and Hawaii, the governments are posting instructions regarding nuclear bomb attacks.

ah, son has chosen a Rubenstein piece: Chopin Nocturnes. Lovely. Kid has good taste.

FFS! Get this gibbering idiot into a locked ward now!

“Nobody with my thought process…”

Remember all the heat Hillary took for saying that among Trump’s supporters were a basket of deplorables?
She can only be faulted for understatement.

@36 Yes! Rubinstein’s recordings of the Chopin Nocturnes is one of the glories of the gramophone!

David Duke is leading the rallies there today. Remember when Dump said he wasn’t sure who David Duke was? Hmmm…. These are truly deplorables, but you know, her emails.

There has been no comment from Dump. Silence.

Even Orrin Hatch condemned it.

But Mueller wants to talk to White House officials.


I was going to have a non-news day today. And I was just going to post and tell you guys how much I enjoy this group, in case we get nuked and never have time to say such things.

Here is the care crash from today. I’m just sick

Contrask, this is a black day.

It sure is Annie. Elections have consequences.

contrask, you speak for me.

Oh gawd – David Duke. I really wish the earth would open up and swallow him and then close back up.

And now for your reading pleasure folks, check out the guy who was a member of the Nat’l Security Council (h/t to Mike Flynn) and who was canned by McMaster.

As Monty Python would say, “and now for something completely different”, check out this database that was created where you can view the various goodies in your tap water. Searchable by zip code.

Link to database:

So damn Presidential. (tears)

Fredster @49, Wow. What the hell was that?!?!

This is the tweet that was being referenced in Luna’s post @51:

@50, thanks for that Fredster. Very interesting. I’m glad we filter our water. Of course dump and his evil minions will let it get worse.

This is a dark dark day. Someone on twitter made an interesting observation that there is a separate timetable for when Trump will no longer occupy the White House, but today is the day he stopped being president. (Assuming one ever accepted that he was president* in the first place.)

Don’t forget, it was only 2 days ago Jeffrey Lord tweeted “Sieg heil.”

Also this:

Trump is such a pig. His comments about Charlottesville were so wishy-washy that even the rethug congress is calling him out on it:

Ted Cruz did have a strong condemnation of the events and called on Justice Department to treat it as domestic terrorism. He’s looking at 2020.

Aaaaaaaaand Maggie’s hot take of: “Jared is furiously working behind the scenes to fix everything.”

This is one of the dumbest things I’ve read all day.

Registered R
20 years old
from Ohio

@65> Yep… But we know how this plays out. By Monday Republicans will have moved on to something else, that guy who drive the car will be a “good boy, he didn’t mean it.”

@64, only 2nd-degree? Hope he gets life. Although someone pointed out VA is a death-penalty state.

@65, “beyond repair” — nailed it. Never thought I’d say this about a POTUS, even a Rethug, but I wish the generals would carry out a mutiny.

@67, so, no, he does not condemn white supremacism.

x-posted at SD because I like it so much:

@64: Previously from Northern Kentucky. They moved to OH “to look for work”.

@53: That was from a policy paper that jerk submitted and somehow Foreign Policy magazine got hold of a copy and made it public.



I forgot about this exchange on Dec 1, 2016.

Look at this! These creeps are so organized its scary. Can we call the cities and ask them to not allow their rallies? Hubs has to be in Torrance on Wednesday.

@77: Start calling city and state leaders: N-O-W!

Although, 1st amendment and all that.

I have a new post for Sunday but I’ll set it to publish for around 1:30 Eastern time in case y’all want to keep commenting on this one.



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