Fritz Kreisler: ‘To practise is a bad habit’
I've been raiding the library of the Magic Mountain library and came across The Memoirs of Carl Flesch. He's not the most compelling story teller, but he does have interesting insights into the great players. For example he explains one of the fundamental truths of profound performance, one from which music students would learn well from: 'Unlike so many others, Kreisler lost none of his essential qualities in the course of the years, because the most valuable ingredients of his art were drawn from a spiritual rather than a technical source, and in particular from a strong inner impulse, which unconsciously found the manner of expression most appropriate to it.'
There's further succour for aspiring professionals: 'As he did not believe in regular practice, it often happened that his finger technique was not altogether spotless; but this defect, to which one grew accustomed in time, could not weaken one's enjoyment of his playing to any appreciable extent. On the day of a concert he did not change his usual activities in the slightest and on the platform he displayed an admirable sang-froid. "To practise is nothing but a bad habit," he used to say; and in this, as in most paradoxes, there is a grain of truth.'
Sadly, the no-practice ethos never worked for me...