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  • Earthling 3:34 pm on June 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: French-born German pianist, German pianist, Great Debussy interpreter, Great Ravel interpreter, Impressionist pianist, Pianist with perfect sight-reading, Pianist with photographic memory   

    Walter Gieseking 

    Walter Gieseking (Born November 5, 1895 in Lyons, France – Died October 26, 1956) was a French-born German pianist who is especially known for his performances of French Impressionist music, in particular Debussy and Ravel.


    Gieseking was born in France to German parents. He initially taught himself the piano. His father was a doctor and entomologist. The family traveled around France and Italy for the first part of Gieseking’s life.

    In 1911, at age 16, Gieseking entered the Hannover Municipal Conservatory. He was taught by Karl Leimer. Gieseking had his first public debut in 1915. Over the course of six recitals, he performed all of Beethoven’s sonatas. He graduated in 1916. Then he was drafted during World War 1 and joined the German army as a band musician.

    After the war, Gieseking worked in various roles in Germany, sometimes as an accompanyist or part of a chamber ensemble. He championed the works of various modern composers, such as Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, Karol Szymanowski, and Ferruccio Busoni. He debuted in London in 1923, in New York in 1926, and in Paris in 1928. In 1925, he married Annie Haake.

    Gieseking was in America in 1939, but decided to return to Germany when World War 2 broke out. He continued to perform in Germany throughout the war, and stopped performing the music of his favorite French composers Debussy and Ravel. He did not join the Nazi Party, yet he came to be regarded as a Nazi sympathizer.

    In 1943, Gieseking went to Braunwald, Switzerland for summer master classes. According to Jutta Hajmassy, Gieseking and his family had access to uncensored newspapers and he asked his family to defect. Gieseking’s wife insisted that they stay in Germany to help their parents.

    After the war, Gieseking was accused of collaboration with the Nazis. This caused his 1949 New York concerts to be canceled. Later, an Allied court in Germany declared him innocent.

    In 1947, Gieseking began giving master classes and the Muikhochschule in Saarbrücken.

    In the 1950s Gieseking made many recordings, including the entire piano works of Mozart, Debussy, and Ravel. He also recorded all of Beethoven’s concertos. He toured Australia, Japan, and South America. In 1953 he performed in the US again. In 1955, Gieseking and his wife were in a bus accident, in which Gieseking suffered head injuries and his wife die.

    Gieseking wrote an autobiography, So Wurde ich Pianist, which was posthumously published in 1963.

    Musical Style and Legacy

    Gieseking was particularly known for his masterful use of the pedal. He has been described as using “subtle shadings” and having “contrapuntal clarity”. [1] He played in a natural and intuitive manner. [2]

    Gieseking had a notorious photographic memory and sight-reading ability. He had a method whereby he would study a piece only from the sheet music, memorize it, and then perform it beautifully without any practice. [2]

    Gieseking is best known for his performances of Debussy and Ravel, whose entire piano works he recorded in the 1950s. He had a wide repertoire, including Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Szymanowski, Korngold, Krenek, Poulenc, Pfitzner, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Busoni, Hindemith, Schoenberg, and Goffredo Petrassi, among others.


    [1] http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/albumList.jsp?name_id1=4388&name_role1=2#drilldown_overview

    [2] http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Gieseking-Walter.htm

    [3] http://arbiterrecords.org/catalog/gieseking-private-family-archival-recordings-1924-1945/



    Article written by me for Lunyr

  • Earthling 3:03 pm on May 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: German pianist, Heinrich Neuhaus, , Music teachers, Musical pedagogue, , Polish pianist, , Teacher of Sviatoslav Richter,   

    Heinrich Neuhaus 


    Heinrich Gustavovich Neuhaus (Born on April 2, 1888 in Elizavetgrad, Ukraine – Died on October 10, 1964 in Moscow, Russia) was a Ukrainian-born pianist and teacher of German and Polish descent. He taught at the Moscow Conservatory for 40 years and became one of the most loved and respected pianists and pedagogues of the 20th century.


    Heinrich’s parents were both music teachers. His father Gustav was of German descent. His mother Olga Blumenfeld was of Polish descent. She was the sister of the composer Felix Blumenfeld, a renowned pianist, composer, and teacher who taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Heinrich Neuhaus was also the cousin of the renowned Polish composer Karol Szymanowsky.

    Heinrich Neuhaus was precocious and had already become a successful concert pianist by age 17. He was also a polyglot, being fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, German, French, English, and Italian.

    In 1904, the whole family visited Berlin with Felix Blumenfeld and Karol Szymanowsky. In 1905, under Felix Blumenfeld’s advice, Neuhaus went to Berlin to study under Leopold Godowsky. After a brief period of study, he went to Italy. He remained in Italy for two years. Then he returned to Elizavetgrad upon his parent’s request. This greatly depressed him, after a period of productivity and happiness in Italy.

    Neuhaus went to the Hochschule der Musik in Berlin. He studied piano under Heinrich Bart. He also studied music theory and composition. Heinrich Bart was excessively conservative and rejected modern musicians such as Busoni, Liszt, Wagner, Mahler, and Scriabin. Neuhaus could not endure Bart’s approach, and returned to Ukraine. His parents wanted him to finish his education, so they sent him to the Vienna Academy of Music in 1909.

    In 1912, Neuhaus went to Florence, Italy and attempted suicide by cutting his wrist. He was hospitalized and recovered.

    Neuhaus finally went to St. Petersburg, took examinations, and graduated in 1915. He taught in Tbilisi, then returned to Elizavetgrad in 1917. He taught at the Kiev Conservatory from 1919 to 1922. He became very popular as a pianist. His uncle Blumenfeld was also a professor at the Kiev Conservatory. Neuhaus and Blumenfeld were both transferred to the Moscow Conservatory in 1922. Neuhaus remained there for the rest of his life.

    In Moscow, Neuhaus’s fame as both a teacher and a pianist grew. He loved to have many people attend his lessons. His pupils include some of the most highly regarded pianists of the 20th century: Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Nina Svetlanova, Alexei Lubimov, Igor Zhukov, Yakov Zak, and others.

    From 1935 to 1937, he was the director of the Moscow Conservatory. During World War 2, he was imprisoned due to suspicions that he was a German spy. He was released after eight months thanks to the intervention of friends and students.

    In 1958, he published The Art of Piano Playing, which remains very widely used and respected among piano teachers and students.

    Neuhaus died in 1964. His son Stanislav Neuhaus is a successful pianist, as well as his grandson Stanislav Bunin.

    Musical Style and Legacy

    Neuhaus strove to understand the whole and the essence of every piece he played, and he tried to instill this in his students. He tried to approach each composer, each piece, and each student according to their own unique qualities. He is remembered as one of the greatest pianist and piano teachers of the 20th century.

    Article written by me for Lunyr

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