Nissman Debuts

A ticket into a better world.

Recognized today in the world’s concert halls as an outstanding pianist, American Barbara Nissman’s first European tour was that of an unknown.  She would arrive on her own in a strange city, make her way to the concert hall, pour her heart into her performance, and then find her own way to something to eat and then exhausted sleep.  On to the next stop the next morning, in many cases.   Her Berlin booking agent even spelled her name as “Nissmann” on U-Bahn interior car cards in the belief that more Germans would attend if they thought she was German-American.  Many of those attending her Berlin debut were music students with complimentary tickets.

Nevertheless, even less musically-educated members of the audience, including a colleague from G-2 Division of Berlin Brigade and myself, recognized her strong start. We were charmed by the fire that went into her performance.  In the depths of an especially bitter winter, it would have been easy for her to wonder what the heck she was doing on this tour, with no guarantee of success.  By staying home, she could have headed into a comfortable career and domestic life.  For two GI’s listening to her, aware of the strutting East Germans’ seeming “success” with the Berlin Wall, feeling forgotten at home due to the attention paid to the war in Vietnam, knowing that our peers were getting established in careers and home life, and with no guarantee of success in our military mission, we could identify with her struggle for her music.  For a wonderful evening, we were all in a better world.

Here is the advertised program:


Mozart – Adagio h-moll  [B minor]

Beethoven – Rondo a capriccio op. 129 

Brahms – Sonate fis-moll op. 2  [F-sharp minor]

plus pieces by Franck, Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, Liszt

Berliners had many choices in the Konzert-Anzeiger listings.

Barbara Nissman today: