Chairman of the jury
Marcel Cuvelier
Belgium, °1899 - 1959
More info
Guido Agosti
, °1901 - 1989
More info
Emile Bosquet
, °1878 - 1958
Emile Bosquet (1878-1959) effectue son apprentissage de piano dans la classe d'Arthur De Greef au Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles, où il obtient un premier prix avec la plus grande distinction et les félicitations du jury en 1895. En 1897, Eugène Ysaÿe l’invite à participer à un récital dont naîtra une amitié qui allait réunir les deux artistes à de nombreuses reprises. Un an plus tard il fait la connaissance de Ferruccio Busoni. Ce dernier l'invite à le suivre à Berlin afin de parfaire son jeu pianistique. Il parvient à le convaincre de prendre part au Concours Rubinstein, qu’il gagne à l'unanimité.

De retour en Belgique, il commence à enseigner par le biais de leçons particulières de piano. Confronté aux divers problèmes que rencontrent ses élèves, il publie chez Schott, dès 1904, La Technique moderne du pianiste virtuose, méthode qui suscite l'approbation de pédagogues tels que Louis Diémer, Raoul Pugno, Busoni et De Greef. En 1909, il fait également paraître chez Schott, deux autres ouvrages techniques, L'Ecole des doigts et une Ecole élémentaire du piano. En 1906 il est nommé professeur au cours supérieur de piano au Conservatoire royal d'Anvers. Sa nomination comme professeur de piano au Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles survient en 1919. L'année suivante, il est élu membre de la Libre Académie de Belgique.

En 1923, Bosquet, Emile Chaumont et Maurice Dambois fondent le Trio belge, qui deviendra en 1924, sous le patronage des Souverains belges, le Trio de la Cour de Belgique. Pendant plus d'un quart de siècle, le trio jouera un rôle essentiel dans la diffusion des œuvres belges à l'étranger.

Emile Bosquet consacre les dix dernières années de sa vie à la réalisation de certains projets qui lui tenaient à cœur. Ainsi, fort de son expérience de pédagogue, il invente un nouveau clavier parce que selon lui, le clavier actuel ne correspondait plus aux exigences imposées par la technique moderne. Entre 1948 et 1953, il consacre la majeure partie de son temps à la rédaction de son unique ouvrage littéraire, La musique de clavier et par extension de luth. Manuel encyclopédique, historique et pratique (Bruxelles, 1953).

Emile Bosquet est invité à prendre place au sein de concours internationaux, tels le Concours Chopin, à Varsovie, ou le Concours Jacques Thibaud-Marguerite Long, à Paris.

Né dans la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle, il eut l'occasion de suivre l'évolution des concepts esthétiques propres à son temps. Plutôt que de ne s'intéresser qu'à une seule période de l'histoire de la musique, il manifesta un intérêt identique pour tous les courants et genres musicaux. Cette ouverture d'esprit se remarque d'emblée dans l'étendue de son répertoire pianistique, dont la richesse réside moins dans le nombre que dans la diversité des compositeurs que l'on y retrouve. Tant sur le plan de la musique ancienne qu'en ce qui concerne la musique belge, Emile Bosquet joua un rôle important dans la diffusion de ces œuvres. Il interpréta également plusieurs pièces en première audition en Belgique, notamment la Sonate n° 1, op. 28 et le 3e Concerto, op. 30 de Rachmaninov, les Valses nobles et sentimentales de Ravel, la Sonate pour violon et piano, op. 18 de R. Strauss.
  • Biography
More info
Renata Borgatti
Italy, °1894 - 1964
More info
Alexandre Brailowsky
Russian Federation, France, °1896 - 1976
Alexander Brailowsky (1896-1976) was a Russian pianist who studied with Busoni and Francis Planté, and made his debut in Paris in 1919. In 1926 he became a French citizen. He was a Chopin specialist and gave recital series of the complete Chopin works in cities all over the world. His recording career began in the acoustical era and continued well past the introduction of stereo.
  • Biography
More info
Robert Casadesus
France, °1899 - 1972
Robert Casadesus est aujourd'hui considéré comme l'un des grands pianistes français du 20ème siècle. Issu d'une famille de musiciens, il obtient à quatorze ans un premier prix de piano au Conservatoire de Paris et le prix Diémer en 1920. L'année suivante, il commence ses premières tournées en Europe entamant ainsi une carrière internationale qui durera un demi-siècle.
En 1935, Robert Casadesus se fait entendre pour la première fois aux Etats-Unis. Toscanini l'invite l'année suivante et le succès est immédiat ; ceci marquera le début de très nombreuses tournées, tout particulièrement aux Etats-Unis, mais aussi dans une quarantaine de pays en Europe, au Moyen-orient, en Afrique du Nord et au Japon.

Ses nombreuses apparitions en public (près de 3000 concerts) et sa discographie abondante (une centaine d'enregistrements) lui confèrent une renommée toujours vivace de nos jours. Il se produisit avec les plus grands chefs de son époque, tels Ansermet, Barbirolli, Beecham, Bernstein, Celibidache, Karajan, Krips, Mengelberg, Monteux, Munch, Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Rosbaud, Schuricht, Stokowsky, Szell, Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Weingartner. Il aimait également partager la scène avec sa femme Gaby, son fils Jean et le violoniste Zino Francescatti, son ami, avec lequel il forma un duo mémorable lors de nombreux concerts et enregistrements.

Pédagogue de réputation internationale, Robert Casadesus a été associé pendant près de trente ans au Conservatoire américain de Fontainebleau, en France et aux Etats-Unis, comme professeur et directeur général.

Compositeur confirmé, il laisse une œuvre importante constituée de 69 opus dont sept symphonies, plusieurs concertos (pour piano, deux pianos, trois pianos, violon, violoncelle, flûte) et de nombreuses œuvres de musique de chambre. Aujourd'hui, des enregistrements de plus en plus nombreux témoignent de la qualité intemporelle de son œuvre.

Robert Casadesus a été élevé aux grades de Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur, Commandeur de l'Ordre de Léopold (Belgique), Commandeur de l'Ordre de Nassau (Pays-bas).
  • Biography
More info
Marcel Ciampi
France, °1891 - 1980
French pianist and teacher Marcel Ciampi (1891-1980) studied from an early age with Marie Perez de Brambilla, a former student of Anton Rubinstein, and in 1909 he received a premier prix in the class of Louis Diémer at the Paris Conservatoire. He performed throughout Europe as a soloist, as the pianist in a trio with Maurice Hayot and André Hekking, and as the frequent partner of Casals, Enescu and Thibaud. From 1941 to 1961 he taught at the Paris Conservatoire, where his students included Yvonne Loriod, Cécile Ousset and Eric Heidsieck. He also taught at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. His few recordings, which include Franck's Quintet (with the Capet Quartet) and works by Chopin and Liszt, reveal a broad, free style and a subtle approach to sound that seem to reflect the Russian influence of his first teacher. Marcel Ciampi was also a noted interpreter of Debussy, for whom he once played.
  • Biography
More info
Cor de Groot
, °1914 - 1993
Cor de Groot (1914-1993) studeerde piano, aanvankelijk bij Egbert Veen, daarna aan het Amsterdams Muzieklyceum bij Ulfert Schults. Hij studeerde tevens directie en compositie bij Sem Dresden.

Na zijn eindexamen cum laude op achttienjarige leeftijd, begon hij in binnen- en buitenland als concertpianist. Van zijn vertolkingen werden veel grammofoonopnamen gemaakt. Hij concerteerde geregeld met alle grote Nederlandse orkesten en na de oorlog maakte hij uitgebreide tournees door Europa en de Verenigde Staten. In 1960 heeft hij, getroffen door een aandoening aan zijn rechterarm, zijn concertloopbaan moeten opgeven. Wel heeft hij nog enige tijd alleen met de linkerhand gespeeld en heeft toen van vele bekende composities linkerhandbewerkingen gemaakt. Verscheidene Nederlandse componisten schreven voor hem werken voor de linkerhand alleen. In 1960 werd hij benoemd tot hoofd muziekregisseur bij de Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. Hij trad nog veelvuldig voor de radio op, zowel als solist in recitals als met orkesten, en was een warm pleitbezorger voor weinig gespeelde Nederlandse muziek.

Cor de Groot componeerde reeds vanaf zijn achtste jaar. Hij schreef een aantal werken voor piano en orkest (1932, 1939, 1950, 1956), muziek voor pianosolo, i.e: Sonatine (1940), Variations imaginaires (1967), Valse tendre (1969), kamermuziek en liederen.

In 1936 was hij laureaat van het internationale concours voor pianisten van Wenen. Op cd verscheen zijn Sonatine pastorale voor hobo en piano (Erasmus WVH093).
  • Biography
More info
Eduardo del Pueyo
, °1905 - 1986
More info
Alex De Vries
, °1919 - 1964
Alex De Vries was born in Amsterdam in 1919, but moved to Antwerp already at an early age. He made his debut as a pianist at age eleven. He studied at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp from 1928 to 1940, where he earned degrees for piano (1935), harmony (Edward Verheyden, 1936), counterpoint and fugue (Karel Candael, 1939 and 1940) as well as the higher diploma for piano (Marinus de Jong, 1937). In addition to that formal education he was also taught privately by Arthur de Greef and Emile Bosquet in Brussels. Later he married Denise Tolkowsky, also a pianist and composer.

Throughout the years he earned several distinctions: the Alexander Brailowsky Prize (Liège, 1938), the Virtuosity Prize of the Belgian government (Brussels, 1939), the Lomas Prize (Brussels, 1939) and the Prize Albert de Vleeshouwer with the cantata Het Kamp (The Camp, 1939) for tenor and chamber orchestra.

After completing his training he was a teacher of piano at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent from 1946 to 1958, and subsequently from 1958 to his death at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. There he founded the Prize De Vries-Tolkowsky together with his wife. This prize was awarded to the student of the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp who earned the highest grade for the Higher Diploma Piano. In 1956 and 1960 he sat on the jury of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition. He was also very active as a concert pianist with tours in Europe and Africa as well as performing with important orchestras under the baton of A. Cluytens, C. Zecchi, E. Ansermet, P. Colombo, and many others.

During the war he had to get out of Antwerp and hide in Ghent. This period had, as with Denise, an impact on his compositions. The title of the cantata Het Kamp (1939), which is also conspicuous in the oeuvre of Denise Tolkowsky in an alternative version for mezzo, refers to that dark period in the life of the couple. Also the Suite op “Het beleg van Bergen-op-Zoom” (Suite on “The Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom”) for strings, shows affinities with the same theme.

In addition to the cantata Het Kamp he composed works for strings, such as an Andante for strings on a theme by Arcadelt. The rest of his oeuvre consists of works for piano, such as his adaptation of the piano concerto by Aram Khachaturian, performed by him under the baton of the composer, and songs on texts by Paul van Ostaijen, Willem Kloos, Frederik van Eeden and Karel van de Woestijne.

The repertoire of Alex De Vries contained a lot of impressionist music and contemporary compositions. He was exceedingly exacting for himself as an artist and often felt tormented by ideas of inadequacy when interpreting the great masterpieces. Even so, these selfsame demands resulted in outstanding performances, earning him much acclaim at home and abroad. He particularly cherished the modern Russian school, witness his special commitment to Khatchaturian’s piano concerto.

Besides being a prominent composer he was also recognized as a humanist and an author. He wrote several studies of composers and musical subjects such as De sonate and Mozart, historisch en stilistisch gesitueerd (Mozart, historically and stylistically contextualized). Not only the subject of music was his domain, he also roamed freely across medicine, psychoanalysis, philosophy, politics and economics. Thus he wrote Inleiding tot de algemene en muzikale geheugenleer (Introduction to a general and musical theory of mnemotechnics, 1949, reprinted in 1973) and many essays such as De muziek in het oeuvre van M. Proust en A. Huxley (Music in the oeuvre of M. Proust and A. Huxley) and Joodse moraal en politiek (Jewish ethics and politics).

In 1964 he said farewell to life. His wife, Denise Tolkowsky, founded in 1965 the Fund Alex de Vries with the mission to offer opportunities to young musicians, supporting and advising them.
  • Biography
More info
André Dumortier
Belgium, °1910 - 2004
André Dumortier (1910-2004) est un professeur de piano et un soliste qui a traversé le siècle qui vient de s'achever. Il est né à Comines en 1910 et a vécu sa première enfance dans un milieu de musiciens amateurs. La guerre, et ses vicissitudes, le conduit à quitter sa ville natale.

En 1919, il s'installe à Tournai et entre à l'Ecole des Frères. Sa sensibilité musicale fait qu'il entre bientôt dans la Maîtrise de la Cathédrale où il découvre le plain-chant et la polyphonie, formant si bien l'oreille. Parallèlement, il entame des études de piano au Conservatoire de Tournai. Ses progrès sont rapides car il possède une base solide acquise auprès de sa mère, qui enseignait le piano. En 1920, il donne un premier récital à Comines, avec une sonate de Mozart au programme.

L'événement fondateur est, comme il l'affirme souvent, la découverte de 'La Damnation de Faust', de Berlioz, exécutée à Tournai en 1922. Ainsi, des premières mélodies chantées par sa mère, au grand orchestre avec chœurs, le jeune musicien découvre les différentes strates sur lesquelles repose la musique classique occidentale. Sérieux et sensible tout à la fois, il met ces deux qualités au service d'un don exceptionnel. Il sera musicien !

Ayant obtenu son Prix de piano en 1925, André Dumortier entre au Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, dans la classe de José Sévenants. Ce dernier a été l'assistant d'Arthur De Greef qui, lui-même, s'est imprégné de l'enseignement de Franz Liszt. Premier Prix de piano en 1927, il remporte le Premier Prix de Virtuosité en 1931. En 1935, il accompagne le jeune Arthur Grumiaux, et joue dans la salle du Conservatoire de Paris.

En 1938, il est lauréat du Concours Eugène Ysaÿe, le futur Concours Reine Elisabeth. Une série de concerts le mènent un peu partout en Belgique, mais aussi en France, en Hollande et en Angleterre. Il réalise ses premiers enregistrements au cours d'un séjour à Londres. Sa double carrière se confirme, après la guerre, en tant que soliste et pédagogue. C'est ainsi qu'il devient professeur de piano au Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles en 1946 jusqu'à sa retraite en 1977. Parallèlement, il assume la direction du Conservatoire de Tournai de 1954 à 1976.

D'autres voyages le mènent au Congo, au Portugal, en Italie, en Suisse, en Suède et en U.R.S.S. Depuis 1988, il anime les Stages d'interprétation et de perfectionnement à Tournai. On le retrouve dans d'autres 'master-classes', à Auxerre et Bayonne.

André Dumortier a réalisé plusieurs enregistrements, et il existe un double CD portant sur les deux concertos de Weber ainsi que sur des œuvres de Franck et Lekeu.

Au cours de sa carrière, il a fait partie de nombreux jurys : Concours Reine Elisabeth, Chapelle musicale Reine Elisabeth, Conservatoires Royaux et étrangers. Des 'Entretiens', suivis d'une biographie de l'artiste, ont été édités par la maison de la culture de Tournai en décembre 2001.
  • Biography
More info
Annie Fischer
, °1914 - 1995
Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer was a child prodigy. Her debut performance, at age eight, was of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto in C Major. She studied at the Academy of Music in Budapest under Arnold Szekely and Ernst von Dohnanyi. In 1933 she won first prize in the Liszt piano competition in Budapest. Four years later she married music critic Aladar Toth. In 1941 she emigrated to Sweden, forced, because of her Jewish origins, to flee a Hungary where anti-Semitism was on the rise and that was aligned with Nazi Germany. At the end of World War II, she returned to Hungary (1946).

Her performing career took her all over the world. In 1955 she was made an honorary professor of the Academy of Music in Budapest. In her later years she performed less regularly, playing mostly outside of Budapest (both in Hungary and abroad). Her blend of temperamental, explosive playing combined with sensitivity was reminiscent of the tradition of the Romantic era. Her repertoire centred on the period from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Johannes Brahms. She also recorded her own interpretations of a number of Mozart’s concertos as well as Bela Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
  • Biography
More info
Marcel Gazelle
, °1907 - 1969
Marcel Gazelle (1907-1969) was pianoleraar aan het Gentse Conservatorium en begeleider van Yehudi Menuhin en Jacqueline Salomons.
  • Biography
More info
Emil Gilels
Russian Federation, °1916 - 1985
Emil Gilels was born in Odessa. He did not come from a musical family: his father worked as a clerk in the sugar refinery and his mother looked after the large family. At the age of five and a half he was taken to Yakov Tkach, a famous piano pedagogue in Odessa. He completed his first period of studies with unprecedented ease. In 1929 aged twelve, he gave his first public concert. In 1930 he was accepted to the conservatory in Odessa into the class of Berta Reingbald. Her main goal was his participation in the First All-Union Competition of Performers which was announced to take place in 1933 in Moscow. Gilels’ playing created a sensation - when he finished his programme the auditorium rose up in tumultuous ovation and even the jury stood to applaud. The question of first prize was not even discussed: in a unanimous decision Gilels was announced the winner. The competition changed Emil’s life - he was suddenly famous throughout the land. Following the competition, Gilels embarked on an extensive concert tour around the USSR.

Gilels graduated from the Odessa Conservatory in the autumn of 1935. Subsequently, he was accepted into the class of Heinrich Neuhaus as a postgraduate student at the Moscow Conservatory, and Gilels renewed his commitment to giving concerts. The phenomenon, ‘Gilels’, found its recognition from the outside. Upon arriving to Moscow at the start of 1936, the conductor Otto Klemperer performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Opus 37 with none other than Gilels as the soloist. In 1936 he participated in his first international competition - the International Vienna Music Academy Competition. Despite attracting the attention of Europe and the unquestionable prestige of being a finalist, he looked upon the second place awarded to him as a failure. First place was awarded to his friend Jacob Flier - an intensely Romantic pianist.

In 1938 Gilels and Flier set off to the Queen Elisabeth Competition. They were expected to uphold the victories of the Soviet violinists, lead by David Oistrakh a year earlier, and to return in triumph. Gilels was awarded the first prize and Flier took the third. The whole musical world began to talk about Emil Gilels. Following the competition he was meant to embark on a lengthy concert tour, including a tour of the USA. These plans were abruptly interrupted by the Second World War. On home soil Gilels became a hero: he received a medal for his achievements, was greeted by a welcome party upon his return and in the Soviet consciousness his name sounded in equal rank with the names of famous explorers, pilots and film stars.

Emil Gilels completed his postgraduate studies in 1938 and began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory (from 1952 becoming a professor). His pedagogical work continued sporadically until 1976, but because of the huge demands of his concerts he could not devote much time to teaching. Nevertheless his class numbered important pianists such as Marina Mdivani, Valery Afanassiev, Igor Zhukov and the pianist-composer Vladimir Blok.

When the war broke out he was not evacuated with the conservatory. Instead he joined the civilian resistance and following an order for his return, he began to perform on the Front and in hospitals. At the start of 1943 he performed Stravinsky’s bravura piece Petrushka to the weary inhabitants of besieged Leningrad.

When the war ended Emil Gilels was to undertake a special mission. He was to represent the Art of a victorious country. He took to the stage amongst the ruins of Eastern Europe, and soon after the war he went on concert tours of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Scandinavia and numerous other countries. Every European country considered it a great privilege to invite Gilels to perform or record. He was decorated with medals and honours - the public worshiped him.

In 1955 Emil Gilels became the first Soviet Artist, since the Second World War, to travel on a concert tour of the USA. The years between the 1950s and 1970s saw him at the height of his powers in all aspects of his playing. He performed under the baton of many of the finest conductors: Mravinsky, Melik-Pashayev, Svetlanov, Ivanov, Rakhlin, Gauk, Ginsburg, Eliasberg, Niyazi, Jarvi, Kitayenko, Dudarova, Barshai. Gilels’ collaboration with Sanderling and Kondrashin were particularly important and longstanding. Within the USSR he had further collaborations with Gusman, Paverman, Maluntsyan, Gokieli, Kolomiytseva, Shaposhnikov, Gurtovoy, Rabinovich, Katz, Feldman, Vigners, Sherman, Stasevich, Sokolov, Tiulin, Kravchenko, Karapetyan, Dubrovsky, Tolba, Provatorov, Katayev, Aranovich, Chunikhin, Yadikh, Nikolayevsky and many others. Through his collaborations he also was able to find new, talented conductors such as Verbintsky and Ovchinikov.

Emil Gilels also played in ensembles: with pianists Flier and Zak, and later with his daughter Elena Gilels; violinists Elisabeth Gilels (his sister), Tziganov, Kogan; with the Beethoven Quartet; in a trio with Tziganov and Shirinsky, as well as his own trio (Gilels, Kogan, Rostropovich); with flautist Korneiv; and the French horn player Shapiro. Abroad he collaborated with the Amadeus Quartet and the Sibelius Academy Quartet.

Emil Gilels’ commitment to the recording studio was as intensive as his commitment to his concert tours : he recorded with many record companies, including Melodiya, Angel, Ariola, EMI, Eterna and Deutsche Grammophon. His earliest recordings are from the 1930s and include Loeillet-Godowsky’s Gigue, the Fantasia on Two Themes from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart-Liszt-Busoni, Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor Opus 23, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9, Schumann’s Toccata and Mendelssohn’s Duetto from the Songs without Words. All in all Gilels committed to record over five hundred works (not counting the multiple versions that exist for many of the cycles and individual pieces): the exact number however may never become known because of the numerous amateur audio and video recordings made from Gilels’ recitals.

Between the 1950s and 1970s Gilels continued to teach at the Moscow Conservatory whilst maintaining an active profile as an important public figure. He could not however refuse the invitation to preside over the jury at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition - a position that he maintained for the first four competitions.

In the middle of the 1970s Emil Gilels started to limit any activities that were not directly related to his performing. He retired as a jury member of international piano competitions and stopped teaching.

Emil Gilels had to his name the Peoples’ Artist of the USSR, was a recipient of the Lenin Prize (1962), and in 1976 in honour of his sixtieth birthday was bestowed the highest possible governmental award - Hero of Socialist Labour.
  • Biography
More info
Nikita Magaloff
Georgia, °1912 - 1992
Nikita Magaloff was one of the more interesting and charismatic keyboard figures of the twentieth century. Many of his recordings are still available and in modern sound; yet here was a man who was a friend of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, from whom he took composition lessons, and Ravel, who was an enthusiastic admirer. He concertized with the most important conductors and orchestras of the day and at the most prestigious festivals. He also collaborated with the leading string players, like violinist Joseph Szigeti. Though he was born in Russia, he was cosmopolitan in outlook, with a broad repertory that favored Chopin: he played many all-Chopin concerts and had the distinction of being the first pianist to record all of Chopin's piano music. But his repertory also included Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Scriabin, and numerous others. Many of his recordings are available on Philips and Decca.

Nikita Magaloff was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1912. His family fled the Revolution when he was six, traveling first to Finland, then to the United States, and finally settling in Paris in 1922. His first advanced studies were at the Paris Conservatory, where his chief teacher was Isidor Philipp.

It was in the 1920s in Paris that Nikita Magaloff met Prokofiev, Ravel, and Rachmaninov, composers whose music and influence figured prominently in his career. He also befriended Szigeti there, a man he credited with introducing him to a broad range of chamber music and whose daughter he would later marry.

While from the 1920s through the 1950s Nikita Magaloff was active in the concert hall and recording studio, his career seemed to take wing after 1960. This lift might have been due to the cessation of his teaching activities: from 1949 to 1959 he regularly held master classes at the Geneva Conservatory. But then perhaps part of his late success owed something to the change in his style: he took more chances, displayed greater passion, and played, arguably, with more spirit.

Most of Nikita Magaloff's available recordings were made after 1960. He remained busy throughout the last three decades of his career, hardly slowing down even near the end: in the 1990-1991 season, he gave a six-concert series that covered nearly the complete Chopin output.
  • Biography
More info
Arthur Rubinstein
Poland, United States of America, °1887 - 1982
Warm, lyrical, and aristocratic in his interpretations, Arthur Rubinstein performed impressively into extremely old age, and he was a keyboard prodigy almost from the time he could climb onto a piano bench. He came from a mercantile rather than a musical family, but fixated on the piano as soon as he heard it. At age three he impressed Joseph Joachim, and by the age of seven he was playing Mozart, Schubert, and Mendelssohn at a charity concert in his hometown. In Warsaw, he had piano lessons with Alexander Róóycki; then in 1897 he was sent to Berlin to study piano with Heinrich Barth and theory with Robert Kahn and Max Bruch, all under Joachim's general supervision. In 1899 came his first notable concerto appearance in Potsdam. Soon thereafter, just barely a teenager, he began touring Germany and Poland.

After brief studies with Paderewski in Switzerland in 1903, Arthur Rubinstein moved to Paris, where he met Ravel, Dukas, and Jacques Thibaud, and played Saint-Saëns' G minor Concerto to the composer's approval. That work would remain a flashy Rubinstein vehicle for six decades, and it was the concerto he offered in his American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in New York's Carnegie Hall in 1906. His under-prepared American tour was not especially well-received, though, so he withdrew to Europe for further study. He became an adept and sensitive chamber musician and accompanist; his 1912 London debut was accompanying Pablo Casals, and during World War I he toured with Eugène Ysaÿe.

Arthur Rubinstein gave several successful recitals in Spain during the 1916-1917 season, and soon toured Latin America. Along the way he developed a great flair for Hispanic music; Heitor Villa-Lobos went so far as to dedicate to Rubinstein his Rudepoema, one of the toughest works in the repertory. Although he would later be somewhat typecast as a Chopin authority, his readings of Falla, Granados, and Albéniz would always be equally idiomatic.

Arthur Rubinstein's international reputation grew quickly, although he was by his own account a sloppy technician. In the mid-1930s he withdrew again and drilled himself in technique. By 1937 he reemerged as a musician of great discipline, poise, and polish -- qualities he would mostly retain until his farewell recital in London in 1976, at the age of 89. His temperament had sufficient fire for Beethoven but enough poetry for Chopin; his tempos and dynamics were always flexible, but never distorted. His 1960s recordings for RCA of nearly all Chopin's solo piano music have been considered basic to any record collection since their release, and his version of Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain is another classic, as are his various late collaborations with the Guarneri Quartet.

Arthur Rubinstein became a naturalized American citizen in 1946, but he maintained residences in California, New York, Paris, and Geneva; two of his children were born in the United States, one in Warsaw, and one in Buenos Aires. He had married Aniela Mlynarska in 1932, but womanizing remained integral to his reputation as an irrepressible bon vivant. He maintained that the slogan "wine, women, and song" as applied to him meant 80 percent women and only 20 percent wine and song.

Still, there was a serious side to his life. After World War II, he refused ever again to perform in Germany, in response to the Nazi extermination of his Polish family. Arthur Rubinstein became a strong supporter of Israel; in gratitude, an international piano competition in his name was instituted in Jerusalem in 1974. His honors included the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society of London, the U.S. Medal of Freedom (1976), and membership in the French Legion of Honor.
  • Biography
More info
Piano 2020 postponed to May 2021
How the competition unfolds
H.M. Queen Mathilde
Piano Competitions' Juries
This site uses cookies to provide you with the best experience possible.
By clicking on « ACCEPT » or continuing to browse the site, you accept the use of cookies on your web browser. For more information about our cookie policy and the different types of cookies used, click on Learn more
ACCEPT