"Your plight with your work is sad, but I believe it is one of the penalties of having sensitivities and fire for an art. It seems to me that on the highest levels of achievement, even with those who represent those levels on stage, that there is inherent in those achievements a kind of agony that results from an inability to cope successfully with the material. That is a defiance against bondage to the means, that helps to make an artist great. Technically, fluency and ease is given to people who want to say moderate, fairly easy things. There is no pain, or fighting one's way out of a net of harassment necessary to them. Serkin has one hell of a time with his "means," so Schnabel, so Horowitz, so Paderewski, so Koussevitsky. So many others, including your correspondent. . . But these basic problems are never conquered, and the sooner you realize it, the happier you will be, and the easier it will be for you to enjoy your playing at times. You should work incessantly, and with complete concentration, and when it doesn't go, realize that later it will, but probably never as you want it. Practice the [Chopin] B minor Scherzo, but then turn around and play Schubert Impromptus. And play them knowing that you have worked on the other and that it has done you no conceivable harm. With this knowledge you will approach the music you really love the deepest with a confidence you might not have had otherwise. Your means will grow a little from year to year. That is important. How much it grows is not as vital, as that it does grow, and that you can play the music that you perform now with every ounce of spirit and beauty you can bring to it. A craftsman is not an artist, but an artist wants always to be a craftsman. The craftsman will never be an artist, but an artist can always be something of a craftsman. If you ever develop enough finger velocity and strength to play the B minor Scherzo with the passion it demands as a piece of music, you will find that what you are doing is not a technical thing. And you will also find that the piece cannot be played ideally under those conditions! And so where are you? Off to the next problem. And he that can play a work like the B minor Scherzo easily can't play it at all! I have not, to this day, enough technique to play it evenly, but I have enough to play it with my insides. And while I am still a little out of patience with my silly hands, I realize that I have attained enough strength to give the work my feeling for it. What else can I do? And what care I for the glib fellow who can "toss it off" - this raging storm! If we say that I can play faster than you, then there is he that plays faster than I can, and so on, till we arrive at that moronic tribe of etude-players. And so what?. . . know that one day you'll be able to play the B minor Scherzo from the heart, with almost all the notes, but then the Paganini-Liszt Etudes will stare you in the face. Let it, it's good for you, but don't face it pessimistically. Consider each challenge soberly, and then, step by step, meet it, in your own way. That's what I try to do. Sometimes my fingers work, sometimes not, - the hell with them! I want to sing anyway. And my heart seldom doesn't work. So don't brood over technique too much. Remember that you are a musician."
I love Kapell. He understood.