ACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS; and they’re hard to conceal. The truth will out. For decades, Josef Hofmann was considered the pianist without peer. Every serious artist admitted this. Abe Chasins (himself a phenomenal pianist) reminds us that even Rachmaninov threw up his hands in despair. If Josef played a composition, Rachmaninov would never again play that same piece, exclaiming: “What’s the point? That’s the music; there it is, in total perfection. There’s nothing that can be added to such a performance. And who else can do it but Josef? Nobody!”
Envious Of His Skills: But after Hofmann’s death, two things conspired against his reputation. First, lesser artists were consumed with jealousy over Hofmann’s perfection—Claudio Arrau is a good example—and publicly slandered his art. Secondly, pianism entered into a bad period, one in which individuality and cold conceptions were frowned upon by stodgy, bloodless, robotic pedants who lacked the sophistication to appreciate excellent interpretations. But in recent years, serious pianists have been discovering the art of Josef Hofmann and studying his recordings open-mouthed. In the following video, Ruth Slenczynska (a student of Cortot, Rachmaninov, and Schnabel) speaks about Hofmann:
Puzzling Church Decrees: I’ve been shocked by some of the pronouncements coming from church leaders lately. For example, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship—Bishop Arthur Roche—recently sent out puzzling instructions which encourage “Ordinary Form” Catholics to ostracize and belittle those who prefer the Missale Vetustum. The Vatican is also currently using the faithful’s donations to pay someone to assemble a secret “enemies list.” That is to say, Bishop Roche has declared that bishops must seek from him (!) a “necessary authorisation” if any priests ordained after 16 July 2021 wish to celebrate the Missale Vetustum. Bishop Roche’s decree directly contradicts the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis (“Traditionis Custodes”) which says bishops have the “exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal.” Furthermore, the document by Pope Francis does not speak of any “necessary authorisation” from Rome; rather, it says priests wishing to use the 1962 Missal “should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.” Bishop Roche erroneously seems to believe the document was named Traditionis Custos instead of its actual title: “Traditionis Custodes.”
Is This A Dream? Who could believe such a thing? In the history of the Church, the Vatican has never—to my knowledge—sent out instructions telling one group of Catholics to ostracize and belittle another group of Catholics. But cooler heads will prevail … eventually. Josef Hofmann is regaining the renown that (once upon a time) nobody doubted. In a similar way, I believe future Catholics will look back on our times and scratch their heads. They will ask: “Did the head of the CDW really use the faithful’s donations to assemble an enemies’ list of newly-ordained priests?” If we’re still alive, we’ll certainly have some stories to share with our grandchildren!