Remembering Rubinstein At Wake Forest University 50 Years Later
Fifty years ago this week, there was a notable evening for the arts in the Triad. Winston-Salem played host to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century: pianist Arthur Rubinstein.
During his 85-year-long career, Rubinstein achieved rock star status throughout the world, and his standing-room-only concert in Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University helped put the city on the map as a cultural arts center.
Ed Wilson, Margaret Sandresky, Paul Sinal, Clara Allen, and the late Kopi Hanes shared their remembrances of a remarkable night of music: January 17, 1967.
There are not many concerts you’re talking about fifty years later. We were very, very excited, because here was a man—the last living Romantic giant of the 19th century, and I was going to get to hear him. And I remember when he [Rubinstein] came out, he wasn’t a giant at all. I remember he was a very short man. And that night he played flawlessly.
– Paul Sinal
And I thought, ‘Oh, he’s such an old man now, you know, I wonder if he’ll be able to play this Beethoven Appassionata Sonata—because he started out with that! [Sings while pounding fingers on table top: 'Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum!'] I could just look down [from the riser on stage] and see his hands. He had very very wide, strong fingers. Of course he was off and running and it was absolutely gorgeous.
–Margaret Vardell Sandresky
I had the pleasure that night of sitting on the stage, so I was there behind the piano just within a few feet of him. And I think what was extraordinary was not just the performance, the brilliance of his playing, but it was also his presence. – Ed Wilson