"Music isn't enough. Performers aren't enough. There must be someone who loves music as much as life. For you, and remember this always, those of us with something urgent to say, we give everything."
The quote, by renowned American pianist William Kapell - father of former Greenport Village Mayor David Kapell -- remains timeless, despite the tragedy of the young musician's untimely death in 1953, when he was only 31 years old.
And now, 60 years after a plane crash cut down the life of a man who was deemed by his peers to be a rising constellation in the international music stratosphere, Kapell's family continues to work tirelessly to ensure that his legacy lives on for generations to come.
A recently released book, "A Lasting Recording," by Stephen Downes, chronicles Kapell's life, the pianist's extraordinary talent -- and the journey that brought a rare and previously undiscovered acetate recording of his final performance during a concert tour in Australia home to his family in 2004.
The rare recording was made by an Australian lipstick salesman in the privacy of his own home -- and wasn't found until 2004, after years of searching and detective work.
"Sixty years after his untimely death, the human story of the last months of my father's life has finally become a book," Dave Kapell said recently.
Although the book is currently only available in Australia, where it was written, hopes are high for a United States release.
With a journalist's eye for detail and research, Downes has breathed life and heart into Kapell's musical journey, beginning with his first competition at the age of 10, for which he won a turkey.
The book is laced with personal anecdotes that succeed in capturing the complex essence of a musician who, as a little boy born in New York, used to sneak into Carnegie Hall with his brother, fueled by the certainty that one day, he'd perform on the grand stage himself.
And he did.
From humble beginnings, Kapell studied with Dorothea Anderson La Follette, as well as Olga Samaroff, and at Julliard.
Kapell rose to fame while he was still only in his twenties, known for his performances of "Khachaturian's Piano Concero in D-flat," and toured not only the United States but Europe and Australia, performing Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Debussy, and Liszt to great acclaim.
He worked with artists he admired, including Artur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin and others, and was admired by the musical greats of his era.
"He was one of the great pianists of our time," wrote music critic Arthur Jacobs.
American violinist Isaac Stern, who, after Kapell's death, set up a memorial fund for promising young musicians to study in the United States, wrote, of Kapell, "His hands were touched by God."
In the years since he died, many pianists, including Leon Fleisher, have credited Kapell as being an influence on their work.
"He took to the piano. He was like Mozart," Kapell's brother, Bob, was quoted in "A Lasting Recording."
But Kapell, also called "Willy," was also a man -- an outwardly charming, handsome entertainer who captivated audiences with brilliant performances and made them laugh with banter about his love for hot dogs -- who inwardly struggled with depression, illness, and the self-doubt that plagues so many great performers, as he strived toward public perception of his emerging maturity as an artist.
Kapell was a perfectionist, practicing up to eight hours a day and playing at times until his fingers were bloodied.
And, after a grueling tour of Australia, during which he was scheduled for 37 concerts in three months, Kapell, stung by harsh reviews by critics, vowed never to return.
His last concert, at the Plaza Theater in Geelong, was reportedly a pinnacle of his career, where he hauntingly played Chopin's "Funeral March" sonata only days before the tragic plane crash outside of San Francisco.
Downes' book brings to life Roy Preston, an ardent music lover who worked a day job as a cosmetics salesman to pay the bills and buy 78 records, but spent his nights at home alone, quietly pursuing his passion, recording music and concerts, using only a Royce senior recorder and acetate discs.
In a twist of fate, Kapell's and Preston's lives were forever interconnected, when Preston, at home in Australia, recorded Kapell's final concert at Geelong from a broadcast performance, not knowing that it was the last time the pianist would ever take the stage.
Years later, due to the work of a dedicated group of individuals who have devoted lifetimes and years of searching to track down recordings of Kapell's work, the acetate of that final performance was returned to Kapell's family.
After the acetate was found, Kapell's son Josh was contacted, exactly 50 years to the date of William Kapell's death; Josh Kapell has created a website devoted to his grandfather.
Dave Kapell, whose own musical aspirations had him playing piano, cello and bass guitar as a young man -- even taught by Sly Stone -- said his father's talent has been a beacon, binding his entire family, including his own children, on the journey to keep the music alive.
"We are elated by this new wave of interest 60 years after his death," Kapell said. "It will help ensure that his recordings remain available to inspire young pianists coming up. This has always been the family's top priority."
Finding the "lost" recording -- which was carefully wrapped and carried back from Australia by hand by close friends -- was a healing experience for Kapell's entire family, including William Kapell's wife, Anna Lou Dehavenon, who died in 2012.
"It was like having a ghost appear in the room brought to life by the music. Excruciatingly beautiful and poignant at the same time," Kapell said. "My mother devoted much of her life to keeping my father's story and musical legacy alive. It was remarkable to see how she was able to contribute to the book at the very end of her own life, even in her profoundly diminished physical state. It offered a wonderful conclusion to a lifetime of stewarding my father's legacy."
Finding the recordings has united Kapell's family in their ongoing mission. "With the passage of 60 years since his death, it has become clear that his recordings are permanently ensconced in history's library of great music. Our job as a family is to ensure the broadest possible access to them so they and his story continue to inspire young pianists," Kapell said.
Reflecting on how it felt, to hear the acetate after so many years, Kapell said, "The discovery of the Australian recordings is testimony to the awesome power of his last performances that is as alive today as it was then. But the story would not be if it weren't for the efforts of Roy Preston in Australia and countless others over the years. Unbelievably good fortune, at a bare minimum."
Sharing the experience with his own children, Kapell said, has been "profoundly fulfilling."
Asked which was his favorite of his father's performances, Kapell said, "Every time I listen, I have a new answer to this question. But I love the lyrical beauty of his performance in Australia of Debussy's 'Claire de Lune.'"
And, to the many individuals who never gave up searching, and who helped to bring his father's final performance home, Kapell said simply, "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart."