At the close of one of my first singing lessons, my dear old maestro said to me: “Remember always to choose your accompaniment with care. Next to your own voice it can be the greatest factor in your success.
At the time I was puzzled. What, I asked, had a piano to do with my success as a singer? But as the years passed, I learned the truth of my maestro’s words. I sang with many pianos. But in all of them there was something lacking. Something I cannot quite describe call it sympathy of tone if you will, or kinship of spirit. Until one day, shortly after I joined the Metropolitan Opera Company, I found what I was seeking. And the discovery was one of the happiest experiences of my life.
I had set out to find a- practice piano for my home. I tried many different makes. Then, in the course of my rounds, I seated myself at a Knabe. I had not played a dozen notes before I realized that here was piano tone different from any I had ever heard before. Its liquid eloquence seemed to reach the innermost recesses of my heart. I was strangely elated, buoyed up. Before I knew it I was singing. Yet, as I sang and played, only one voice rose from the piano. The voice of the Knabe melted into my own. We were one—the Knabe and I.
And we have remained one. Wherever I sing—at home, on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, on the concert platform—the Knabe sings with me. Always its golden voice is an inspiration, urging me to do a little better than my best. And always it seems instinctively to sense the mood of my song, and to express that emotion in perfect harmony with me.
So today, when young singers come to me for counsel, I repeat the advice of my old maestro. Only now I can add words of wisdom unknown to him. I can tell these young students not only the importance of accompaniment to a singer —I can tell them the name of the ideal piano for the singer—the Knabe.