Bach’s Italian Concerto arranged for pianoforte was the testing piece that Rodin most often inflicted on his pupils. A dash of affection for his country of temporary residence had him first select this. A sadistic perversity had him persevere. Mostly to deter the mother-sent schoolgirls, black-lashed eyes a’flutter, who were wont to swear their love for the bear. The most persistent even declared themselves undaunted by his growls and bellows.
Rodin turned his large back on all such declarations.
“Play! Play!” he’d sing out in his high tenor. And should a gauntlet fumble the counterpoint one of his own huge hands would come thumping down on the piano’s loose lid. The bang and clatter would be accompanied by his oft-used cry and complaint: “Interpret! Interpret! A rock’d make more sense.”