A traveling Irish harpsichordist by the name of Thomas Roseingrave (1690-1766) had an unwitting encounter with one of the towering talents of the instrument. Charles Burney, the famous eighteenth century music historian, related Roseingrave’s reaction:
"Being arrived at Venice on his way to Rome, as he himself told me, he was invited, as a stranger and a virtuoso, to an academia at the house of a nobleman, where, among others, he was requested to sit down to the harpsichord and favour the company with a toccata, as a specimen della sua virtu. And, he says, "Finding myself rather better in courage and finger than usual, I exerted myself, my dear friend, and fancied, by the applause I received, that my performance had made some impression on the company." After a cantata had been sung by a scholar of Fr. Gasparini, who was there to accompany her, a grave young man dressed in black and in a black wig, who had stood in one corner of the room, very quiet and attentive while Roseingrave played, being asked to sit down to the harpsichord, when he began to play, Rosy said, he thought ten hundred devils had been at the instrument; he never had heard such passages of execution and effect before. The performance so far surpassed his own, and every degree of perfection to which he thought it possible he should ever arrive, that, if he had been in sight of any instrument with which to have done the deed, he should have cut off his own fingers. Upon enquiring the name of this extraordinary performer, he was told that it was Domenico Scarlatti, son of the celebrated Cavalier Alessandro Scarlatti. Roseingrave declared he did not touch an instrument himself for a month…"
“Count Apponyi recounts the evening of September 1, 1876, at Richard Wagner’s home, Wahnfried, during the first Bayreuth Festival.
“A few of us were together at Wahnfried after dinner. Wagner, being tired, had left the company, and Ferencz Liszt took the lead in a conversation which turned on Beethoven’s last sonatas. Liszt was very interesting on the subject. He spoke especially of the famous Hammerklavier, and more particularly of the fine adagio in F Sharp minor which it contains. In the midst of a sentence he stood up and exclaimed: - ‘I will prove it to you!’ - We retired to the music-room, which at Wahnfried reached from the ground level, past the first floor and up to the glass roof. On the first floor there is an open gallery, on which the bedroom doors open, and from which a spiral staircase leads down to the ground floor. In the middle of the hall stood the huge piano, at which Liszt sat down, and filled our souls with the mysticism of Beethoven’s last works…. Liszt seemed once more to have surpassed himself, to have established an inexplicable, direct contact with the dead genius whose interpretation for him was a religious task. When the last bars of the mysterious work had died away, we stood silent and motionless. Suddenly, from the gallery on the first floor, there came a tremendous uproar, and Richard Wagner in his nightshirt came thundering, rather than running, down the stairs. He flung his arms around Liszt’s neck and, sobbing with emotion, thanks him in broken phrases for the wonderful gift he had received.””—Lizst Plays Hammerklavier
“Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749–1818), Bach’s first biographer who obtained the information directly from two eldest sons, Friedemann and Emanuel, gives us the following account about Bach’s method of teaching: ‘the first thing he did was to teach his pupils his peculiar manner of touching the instrument. For this purpose, he made them practice, for months together, nothing but isolated exercises for all the fingers of both hands, with constant regard to this clear and clean touch. For some months, none could get excused from these exercises; and, according to his firm opinion, they ought to be continued, for from six to twelve months. But if he found that anyone, after some months of practice, began to lose patience, he was so obliging as to write little connected pieces, in which those exercises were combined together. Of this kind are the six little preludes (BWV 933–938) and still more the Inventions.’”—J. S. Bach: Inventions and Sinfonia