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Great Pianists (1926-1945) (Alfred Cortot/ Artur Rubinstein/ Artur Schnabel/ Benno Moiseiwitsch/ Claudio Arrau/ Edwin Fischer/ Egon Petri/ Ignaz Friedman/ Josef Lhevinne/ Myra Hess/ Sergei Rachmaninov/ Sergey Prokofiev/ Vladimir Horowitz/ Wilhelm Backhaus



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The industrial and economic developments of the nineteenthcentury

are reflected also in music, and, above all, in thetechnical changes in the manufacture of the piano, the proliferation ofinstruments as an essential part of domestic furniture, and the rise of schoolsof virtuosity in performance, led by players such as Liszt and hiscontemporaries in Paris in the 1830s. The present anthology offers a conspectusof that tradition, as it continued into the twentieth century.


Edwin Fischer (1886-1960), from a German-Bohemian musicalfamily, was born in Basel, where he studied, before moving to Berlin as a pupilof Martin Krause at the Stern Conservatory, establishing himself as one of theleading pianists of the city. Represented here by a Prelude and Fugue from his1930s recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, he won a contemporaryreputation, both as a pianist and as a conductor, as an interpreter of Bach. Atthe same time he had an extensive repertoire, including the Romantics as wellas music by contemporaries. Illness compelled his retirement from concertperformance in 1954. His pupils include Alfred Brendel and Paul Badura-Skoda.


Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948), born Solomon Isaac Freudman inthe Polish town of Podgorze, was the son of the violinist and pianist WolfgangFreudman. He studied in Cracow, before moving to Vienna, where he became apupil and assistant of Leschetizky, one of the great teachers of hisgeneration. He made

his Vienna debut in 1904 and lived successively in Berlin,Copenhagen, America, Italy and, finally, Australia. He had a particular understandingof Romantic repertoire and left an important edition of Chopin. His recordingof Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, from which a movement is included, was made in1926.


Born in Kiev, Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989) studied therewith his mother,

and with Sergey Tarnowsky and Felix Blumenfeld, intending atfirst to become a composer, but supporting himself by a series of increasinglysuccessful concerts in Russia, then abroad. In 1933 he married Toscanini'sdaughter, Wanda,

and settled in the United States, gradually extending hisperiods of temporary retirement. His recording of Tchaikovsky' s Piano ConcertoNo.1, the work with which he had made his New York debut in 1928, was made in1941, under the direction of his redoubtable father-in-law, of whom he remainedin awe.


The Russian pianist Josef Lhevinne (1874-1944) was born atOrel, near Moscow, the son of a trumpet-player in the Imperial Orchestra. Hestudied with Safonov at the Moscow Conservatory, where his fellow-pupilsincluded Skryabin and Rachmaninov. He taught in Tiflis and in Moscow, beforemoving to Berlin, and, after war-time internment, to New York, where he taughtat the Juilliard School, with his wife, whose pupils included Van Cliburn andthe pianist and conductor James Levine. Lhevinne is represented here by hismost popular encore piece, Adolf Schulz-Evler's transcription of the BlueDanube Waltz, recorded in 1928.


Born in London, Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965), a pupil ofTobias Matthay, won deep affection for the war-time lunch hour concerts thatshe arranged at the National Gallery, when concert halls in London were closed.Her name lives on in the popular transcriptions she made, particularly ofBach's chorale prelude Jesu, joy of man's desiring. Among her pupils are YontySolomon and Stephen Kovacevich. She recorded Schumann's Piano Concerto in 1937.


A pupil of Olga Samaroff in Philadelphia and then a studentat the Juilliard School in New York, the American pianist William Kapell(1922-1953)

was killed in a plane crash while returning from Australia.His career promised

much and is now remembered in the relatively few recordingshe left. He played Rachmaninov's famous Prelude in C sharp minor for recordingsby RCA in 1944, but it was a further take in March 1945 that was released andis here included as a sample of his achievement.


The Russian-born pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963) wasborn in Odessa. He studied there with Dmitry Klimov, moving, when he wasfourteen, to Vienna, where he was accepted as a pupil of Leschetizky.Thereafter he settled with his family in England, where he made his concertdebut in 1908, the beginning of a busy career, his activity markedly increasingduring the war,

when he gave concert after concert in support of MrsChurchill's Aid to Russia campaign. He was a noted interpreter of the music ofhis friends Rachmaninov and Medtner. He recorded Grieg's Piano Concerto in 1941in Manchester, which was at the time considered marginally safer than London.


Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943) was among those Russiancomposers who chose exile rather than remain in Russia after the revolution of1917. By then he had established himself as a conductor, composer and pianist,a former pupil of Ziloti, who had himself studied with Tchaikovsky, NikolayRubinstein and Liszt. The exigencies of life in exile obliged Rachmaninov todevote greater attention to performance, above all in the United States, whichprovided an income, although he had at first settled in France and then inSwitzerland. His Piano Concerto No.2 is among the most popular of all Romanticconcertos. He gave the first performance in Moscow in 1901. The presentrecording, from which a movement is taken, was made in April 1929.


Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982) was born in Poland and as a boybenefited from the advice of the violinist Joseph Joachim, a friend of Brahms,before studying with Heinrich Barth in Berlin, where he made his debut in 1900,

the start of a career that lasted some three quarters of acentury and took him throughout the world. At first he settled in Paris, but inthe 1930s took a break

in order to revise and perfect his technique. He spent thewar years in the United States, where he had had significant success, and in1946 became an American citizen. He retired in 1976. His interpretations ofChopin won him particular praise, and he is represented here by his 1937recording of the Nocturne in E minor.


Like many other pianists included here, Wilhelm Backhaus(1884-1969) made his first concert appearances as a child. He studied in hisnative Leipzig, before taking lessons with Eugen d'Albert in Frankfurt am Main.In a long career

he is said to have given more than four thousand concertsand made his first recordings in 1907. He recorded Brahms's Piano Concerto No.1in England in 1932.


Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) was born in the then Austriantown of Lipnik and studied in Vienna with Leschetizky, who encouraged him inthe exploration of less conventional repertoire. In 1900 he settled in Berlin,where he married the contralto Lieder singer Therese Behr, a significantinfluence on his early career. He moved to the United States in 1939. It was inthe 1930s that he agreed to record all the Beethoven sonatas, which he hadplayed in Berlin in 1927 to mark the centenary of the composer's death, and theconcertos. He recorded Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4 with Malcolm Sargent andthe London Philharmonic Orchestra in London in 1934.


The Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau (1903-1991), taught thepiano by his mother, gave his first concert in 1908. A scholarship allowedstudy in Berlin with Martin Krause, who described him as the most talentedpianist since Liszt. In Berlin in the 1930s he gave a series of concerts thatincluded all the keyboard works of Bach and in later years performed allBeethoven's numbered sonatas. He settled in the United States in
Disc: 1
Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major
1 Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major
Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moo
2 Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, "Moo
Piano Concerto No. 1: I. Allegro non troppo e molt
3 Piano Concerto No. 1: I. Allegro non troppo e molt
Blue Danube Waltz
4 Blue Danube Waltz
Piano Concerto in A minor: III. Allegro vivace
5 Piano Concerto in A minor: III. Allegro vivace
Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2
6 Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 2
Piano Concerto in A minor: I. Allegro molto modera
7 Piano Concerto in A minor: I. Allegro molto modera
Disc: 2
Piano Concerto No. 2: II. Adagio sostenuto
1 Piano Concerto No. 2: II. Adagio sostenuto
Nocturne No. 19 in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1
2 Nocturne No. 19 in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 1: II. Adagio
3 Piano Concerto No. 1: II. Adagio
Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58: III. Rondo (Vivace)
4 Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58: III. Rondo (Vivace)
Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, K. 283
5 Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, K. 283
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 21: II. Larghetto
6 Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 21: II. Larghetto
Rhapsody in B minor, Op. 79, No. 1: Agitato
7 Rhapsody in B minor, Op. 79, No. 1: Agitato
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26: I. Andant
8 Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26: I. Andant
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