This I Believe
La Forge, Frank
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Frank La Forge is a musician. As a pianist, he has accompanied some of the great singers of our time, including Madame Schumann-Heink and Lily Pons. When not on a concert tour he teaches voice in his New York studio. He is also a linguist, who has used this talent in the translating of many songs. This would be a more difficult task if he himself were not a composer. Mr. La Forge is venturing into still another field of the arts: that of writing. For more than four years now, he has been working on his autobiography. He interrupts his many activities to bring us his creed.
La Forge: I am descended from New England parents and my ancestry goes back to the first white child born in this country. I was pledged prenatally to a musical career by my mother’s ardent desire to fulfill in my life her own musical ambitions. Music was an integral part of my life from the beginning, and I realize that I could not abandon it as one would take off a cloak. The goal constantly before me was musical perfection. When I was a young man, people said to me, “What do you expect to accomplish with all this frantic practicing?” I told them my motto, which I had taken at that time: “To do my very best and not to waste any opportunity which seemed right.”
I believe that the destiny of an individual unfolds itself step by step and that the development of a
career will be seriously hindered if one of these steps is missed. This conviction was [doubtly?] the result of my boyish impression of Shakespeare’s immortal lines:
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
After studying piano with my sister Ruth the opportunity was presented for me to go to Vienna in order to continue my studies. According to my motto mentioned above, I took this opportunity since it seemed right, and I was rewarded by the rich experience of studying four years with the greatest piano master of this century, Theodor Leschetizky. Through this channel, new horizons were opened for me, not only as a pianist but also as a composer, and I have been able to fulfill my desire to contribute to American song literature as well as sacred music.
Memorizing, in any field of work, is a laborious method of assimilating knowledge, but especially in music, where the art of accompanying includes perfect familiarity with the written score and also with
a singer’s technique. For fifty years I have accompanied the greatest singers and have never referred to the written music. The natural results of this method contributed to the perfection of the concerts of Madame Sembrich, Johanna Gadski, Ernestine Schumann-Heink and, for the last fifteen years, Lily Pons, as well as many other great artists.
I believe in a God who sustains every serious and upright act, and who gives to us the peace and tranquility to develop more and more until the perfect day. The Supreme Being is principal, which controls the world and all that is therein. The demonstration of its power dwarf the mightiest efforts of man and make them seem comparatively insignificant. I am sustained, inspired and guided by Him to
reach toward the highest degree of excellence.
That was Frank La Forge, the president of the New York Musicians’ Club, who lives with his family in Darien, Connecticut.