Andor Foldes was 72, but he recalled vividly how praise made all the difference for him early in his career. His first recollection of an affirming word was at age seven when his father kissed him and thanked him for helping in the garden. He remembered it six decades later, as though it were yesterday.
But the account of another kiss that changed his life says a great deal about our inner need for purppose. At age sixteen, living in Budapest, Foldes was already a skilled pianist. But he was at his personal all-time low because of a conflict with his paino teacher. In the midst of that very troubled year, another pianist, Emil von Sauer, was not only famous becuase of his abilities at the piano, but he could also claim the notoriety of being the last survivng pupil of Franz Liszt.
Sauer requested that young Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged the master with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann. When he finished, Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead.
"My son," he said, "when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, sayting, 'Take good care of this kiss - it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.' I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, but now I feel you deserve it."
Foldes no longer had a personal crisis. His kiss from Beethoven gave him a new sense of purpose.
Source: /Little House on the Freeway, Tim Kimmel, p. 38-39.