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8.111217 - WOMEN AT THE PIANO - AN ANTHOLOGY OF HISTORIC PERFORMANCES, Vol. 3 (1928-1954)
Women at the Piano Vol. 3
In the first fifty years of the twentieth century, over two hundred women pianists left recorded evidence of their artistry. In the third volume of this continuing series celebrating women pianists, we present twenty more extraordinary performers.
Born in 1918, Annarosa Taddei began to study the piano at an early age. In Rome she was a pupil of Alfredo Casella (she is the last surviving member of his school) and enjoyed an outstanding artistic career in Italy and Switzerland, including Geneva where she appeared at the most prestigious concerts. On 15 March 1946 in Rome, she gave the first Italian performance of John Ireland's Piano Concerto, with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI conducted by Casella, in a concert broadcast live by Italian Radio. She also gave the first performance of the work in Switzerland. After the war she met Alfred Cortot who, after Casella's death, taught her from 1947 to 1949. Annarosa Taddei was one of Cortot's favourite students and he introduced her to conductors such as Carl Schuricht, Jonel Perlea and Ernest Ansermet. Her deep friendship with Cortot led to his being considered one of the family, so that on the occasion of her wedding he was one of the official witnesses. Annarosa Taddei began her recording career in 1950, setting down works by Sandro Fuga, Alfredo Casella and Domenico Casella for CETRA in Rome. Immediately afterwards she recorded for Vox (the Mendelssohn two-piano concerto with Orazio Frugoni, and Casella's Scarlattiana conducted by Julius Patzak) at the Vienna Staastoper. In 1976, owing to problems with her wrists, she stopped performing in public, devoted herself to teaching in Perugia and Rome and became a jury member of several important piano competitions. Today Annarosa Taddei is still active as a teacher, and as recently as January 2007 was a jury member of a piano competition in Hong Kong. She opens this historic anthology with a scintillating performance of the effervescent Studio N. 1 of Sandro Fuga (1906-1994) [Track 1].
Born on 28 October 1920 in Marseille, Annie D'Arco began musical studies with the mother of the flautist Alain Marion. She entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of fourteen as a pupil of Marguerite Long, winning a Premier Prix there in 1938. Following World War II, she won the Concours de Genève in 1946. D'Arco recorded modestly as a solo artist during the 78 era – during the LP era, she served as accompanist to a wide variety of artists, including Henryk Szeryng, André Navarra, Jean-Pierre Rampal, and Pierre Pierlot. She died in France in 1998 at the age of 77 after a long illness. Her commercial recordings were released on the L'Oiseau-Lyre, Calliope and Erato labels and included music by Mendelssohn, Chabrier, Weber, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Jolivet, Chopin, Schubert, and Fauré. Mendelssohn always occupied an important place in D'Arco's repertoire, therefore it is not surprising that among her earliest recordings is the impassioned performance of the Etude in F major, Op. 104, No. 2 [Track 2] which she recorded in Paris in early 1951.
Rosalyn Tureck was born in Chicago in 1914 of Russian and Turkish ancestry. She studied as a child with Jan Chiapusso, himself a student of Lamond and Pugno. She made her début with two recitals at the age of nine, and at eleven years of age played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She continued her studies with Olga Samaroff at the Juilliard School of Music, graduating with honours in 1936. Tureck first performed the complete 48 Preludes and Fugues of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, along with the Goldberg Variations, in six concerts at Town Hall, New York in 1937, when she was 22 years old. This acclaimed series of concerts launched six decades of performing and a devotion to Bach's music few pianists ever achieved. The New York Times stated, "Bach is a universe, and it is a rare interpreter who can seize on his diversity, vision and humanity and spread it before an audience. Rosalyn Tureck is such an artist." Although she became inextricably connected to Bach's music, she performed many other composers, including Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin, Debussy, and the sonatas of Diamond and Copland. In 1957 she moved to London, where she formed a chamber orchestra, the Tureck Bach Players, as well as the International Bach Society. In 1977 she returned to New York where she reprised her historic series of concerts on their fortieth anniversary. She died in her home in Riverdale, the Bronx in 2003. Among her earliest recordings is the Gigue, from Bach's English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808, [Track 3], recorded in New York in 1936.
Ethel Leginska was born Ethel Liggins in 1886 in the English Yorkshire city of Hull. She appeared as a child prodigy at the age of six. Later she attended the Hoch Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, graduating in 1896. Lady Maud Warender, under the illusion that a Polish-looking name might help Ethel's career, suggested that she change her last name from Liggins to Leginska. Ethel kept that name for the rest of her life. She studied with Theodore Leschetizky until she was sixteen. At nineteen she married the composer Emerson Whithorne, from whom she divorced in 1916. Three years earlier she made her New York début at Aeolian Hall in a diverse programme featuring music by sixteen composers, including Reger, MacDowell, Weber, and Cyril Scott. Leginska quickly became a favourite with the public. Her demanding programmes and her innovations, such as playing an entire Chopin programme without an intermission, drew raves from critics. She studied composition with Rubin Goldmark and Ernest Bloch. In the midst of her career as a pianist, Leginska developed a great interest in conducting. She studied with Eugene Goossens, Robert Heger and Genaro Papi. She made her conducting début with the New York Symphony Orchestra. She continued conducting until 1957, being probably the first woman in musical history to be guest conductor of most of the world's major orchestras, and the first of her gender to be engaged as a grand opera conductor, in London, Salzburg, New York City, Boston and elsewhere. In 1939 Leginska moved to Los Angeles, where she taught and performed. Among her students were Daniel Pollack, Marilyn Neeley, Ron McFarland and Bruce Sutherland. Leginska died in Los Angeles in 1970. Her recorded legacy includes a series of fifty Artrio-Angeles/Duo-Art/Ampico piano rolls, and acoustic and electric recordings for the Actuelle, Pathé, Duo-Art, and Columbia Records companies. Columbia issued for the Schubert Centennial in 1928 Leginska's performances of Schubert's complete Opp. 94 and 142. From these sets we present her interpretation of Schubert's Moment Musical in F minor, Op. 94, No. 5[Track 4].
Isabelle Yalkovsky (Byman) was born in 1906 and appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the age of thirteen. She attended the Juilliard School of Music, where she studied with Olga Samaroff. After making her début with the New York Philharmonic she gave concerts throughout the United States and Canada, appearing as soloist with the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and other orchestras. She taught at Juilliard and for the last ten years of her life at the Manhattan School of Music, where she was head of piano pedagogy. In 1980 she wrote The Piano Teacher's Art. She died in Bakersfield, California while on vacation in 1981. Isabelle Yalkovsky left few recordings. Her earliest is a ten-inch Victrola disc from 1929 of Leopold Godowsky's charming Alt-Wien [Track 5].
Maro Ajemian was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, of Armenian parents in 1920. A year later her family moved to the United States and settled in New York. She was educated at the Lincoln School of Teachers College of Columbia University, at the Institute of Musical Arts and the Juilliard Graduate School of Music. Her principal piano study was with Carl Friedberg. Many sources list her birth year erroneously as 1924, but on 23rd January 1927 she was a winner of the Distinguished Talent Medal at the New York Music Week Association interborough contest in Carnegie Hall. The New York Times indicated that she was six years old. Her formal concert début took place at Town Hall in New York on 11 March 1940. On 14 March 1942, she played the American première of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto (William Kapell heard her performance and himself performed the concerto a few months later at Lewisohn Stadium on 18 July 1942). Throughout her life Ajemian championed contemporary American composers such as Alan Hovhaness, John Cage, Richard Yardumian, and Ben Weber, recording a number of their works. With her sister, violinist Anahid Ajemian, she often performed in joint recitals and recordings. Maro Ajemian died in 1978. Among her earliest recordings is a 1947 performance with her sister, on which the opposite side features her as piano soloist in Bartók's Bulgarian Dance No. 1, from Mikrokosmos [Track 6].
Gisèle Kuhn was born in 1910. In the 1930s she joined Jeune France (founded by Lesur, Jolivet, Messiaen and Baudrier) and participated in cutting-edge contemporary music performances. She joined the Schola Cantorum faculty, where she taught piano performance until 1980. A respected teacher and performer, she received many honours, including the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the Chevalier des Palmes Académiques, and the Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris (also awarded to Roberto Alagna, Marcel Marceau, Linus Pauling and Rudolf Nureyev). She died in August 1996 and is buried at the Choisy-le-Roi cemetery. Kuhn recorded sparingly. Her legacy includes performances of Bach's concertos for three and four pianos and works by Prokofiev, Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, and Khachaturian. Among the more unusual pieces by Khachaturian she recorded was the composer's own piano transcription of the Chant du Mirza, from the Poem about Stalin (1937/8) which was released in 1950 [Track 7].
The Canadian pianist Ida Krehm was born in Toronto in 1912 of Russian parents. She studied in Canada with Ernest J. Farmer, Norah Drewett de Kresz, Viggo Kihi, and theory with Healey Willan. She made her first concert appearance in 1924 and five years later moved to Chicago where she continued her studies with Rudolf Ganz. In 1936 she married Joseph Richard Pick, a Chicago pianist, composer, and textile broker. A year later she won the Schubert Memorial Award, the National Federation of Music Clubs Prize, and the Naumburg Foundation Award. As a result she appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy and made her New York début at Town Hall. Her Canadian professional début took place in 1939 at Hart House, University of Toronto. She toured widely after that, appearing as soloist with the Cleveland, Chicago, Hallé, Toronto, London Philharmonic, Suisse Romande, Royal Philharmonic, and many other orchestras. After her husband's death in 1955, she took up residence in Hampstead, England. In the 1970s she lived in Switzerland, and the last two years of her life she lived in Costa Rica, where she died in 1998. She introduced many significant works by Kabalevsky, Tansman, Benda, Dello Joio, Surinach, and others, including Bloch's Scherzo fantasque in 1950 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When Samuel Yaffe created Paraclete Music in the early 1940s, he invited Ida Krehm to be among a handful of pianists to record the very first comprehensive anthology of Scriabin's piano works. As a result she recorded in the living room of a home in East Haven, Connecticut in 1942 Scriabin's Sonata No.5 in F sharp major, Op. 53, and the very first recording of Scriabin's Etude in B flat major ('Etude in Ninths'), Op. 65, No. 1[Track 8].
The French pianist and teacher Yvonne Loriod was born near Paris on 20 January, 1924. Her godmother Mme. Sivade was an eminent piano professor, and little Yvonne began piano studies at an early age. By the age of fourteen, Loriod had learned all of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, all 32 of Beethoven's sonatas, most of the piano works of Chopin and Schumann, and all of Mozart's piano concertos. At the Paris Conservatoire she studied with Lazare Lévy, Marcel Ciampi, Simone Caussade, Joseph Calvet, Olivier Messiaen, and Darius Milhaud. Her repertoire quickly extended to include the piano works of Ravel, Debussy and many contemporary masters. She gave the first performance in Paris of Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 2. Her prodigious memory and extraordinary technique has allowed her to add to her repertoire the complete piano works of Schoenberg, Jolivet, Boulez, Bartók, and Messiaen. She was married to Olivier Messiaen and made her American début in 1949 as piano soloist in Messiaen's work Turangalîla. Her discography is extensive and includes many works for solo and for piano and orchestra by Mozart, Schumann, Bach, Chopin, Albéniz, Falla, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Boulez, and, of course, Messiaen. Among the earliest of her recordings of Messiaen's piano works is the 1946 Paris recording of Les sons impalpables du rêve (Prélude No. 5) [Track 9].
Phyllis Sellick was born 16 June 1911. She began her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded the Blakiston Memorial Prize in 1926. After studying privately with Isidore Philipp in Paris, she made her début in 1933 playing the Grieg Piano Concerto. As a soloist she gave the first performances of many works by mid-century British composers, including Tippett's Fantasy Sonata in 1938 and his Fantasia on a Theme of Handel in 1942. In 1937, she married the pianist Cyril Smith and in 1941 they formed a piano duo which gave concerts and recorded widely during the 1940s and 1950s. Malcolm Arnold's Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril (1969) was dedicated to her, as were works by Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss and Gordon Jacob. Separately, she recorded, among other works, the Tippett Sonata and Walton's Sinfonia Concertante (with the composer conducting). Following a stroke in 1956 which paralyzed Smith's left hand, the couple continued to perform together, an experience recounted in the book Duet for Three Hands (London, 1958), to which she contributed a chapter. Phyllis Sellick taught at the Royal College of Music from 1964 to 1992, and was awarded the OBE in 1971. As a result of a sponsorship from Rimington van Wyck (a London record-dealer and publisher), Sellick recorded in 1940 and 1941 for British Decca a number of 78rpm discs, including works by Tippett, Couperin, Rameau, Daquin, Debussy, Ibert, Poulenc and this wonderful interpretation of Maurice Ravel's Toccata, from Le Tombeau de Couperin [Track 10].
German pianist Elly Ney was born in Düsseldorf on 27 September 1882. Her early teachers in Cologne included Isidor Seiss and Karl Böttcher. In Vienna she studied with Emil von Sauer and Theodore Leschetizky. At the age of sixteen Ney won the prestigious Mendelssohn Prize. She taught at the Cologne Conservatory for three years. Her concert career took her to all of the musical capitals of the world and frequent appearances in the United States. Critic Henry Edward Krehbiel wrote the following after hearing Ney in America: "She is an artist who is not heard with pleasure because of her fine command of the mechanical part of piano playing but because she apprehends the beauty of the composer's purposes with their burden of beauty and expressiveness, and makes her hearers comprehend as well as apprehend them. So she presses the truism of reposefulness, beautiful symmetry and varied loveliness of tone upon nearly everything she plays." She was married to the conductor Willem van Hoogstraten, with whom she recorded several piano concertos. In 1927 she gave the world première of Ernst Toch's Piano Concerto in Berlin and repeated this performance in 1928 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She formed a piano trio with Wilhelm Stross and Ludwig Holscher and also recorded with them. After 1939 Ney was in charge of a piano master-class at the Mozarteum Hochschule für Musik in Salzburg. After the war she lived in retirement at her home in Tutzing, Bavaria, appearing frequently in concert performing music by Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Chopin. She died in 1968. Ney left an interesting legacy of recordings made on the Brunswick, HMV, and later, Colosseum labels. George Kehler once stated that "Elly Ney was an interesting pianist that could find something to communicate out of a common run". Her delicately brilliant and poetical playing is in evidence in her 1938 Berlin recording of Beethoven's Andante Favori in F major, WoO 57(1803) [Track 11].
Polish pianist Halina Czerny-Stefanska was born on 30 December 1922. Her father was professor at the Krakow Conservatory, Stanislaw Czerny, with whom she began her studies. In 1932 she went to Paris to study with Alfred Cortot. In 1935 she was back in Poland, studying at the Warsaw Conservatory with Joseph Turczynski. As a teenager she had already appeared in concert and on Polish Radio. After the war she returned to her studies, this time under her husband's guidance, L. Stefanski and Professor Drzewiecki in Kraków. Her post-war years were difficult, with performances in factories and working as an accompanist for ballet companies. Her break occurred in 1947 when she made her début in a Mozart concerto with the Kraków Philharmonic conducted by V. Bierdiajew. Other concerts followed, including a tour of the Soviet Union. Halina Stefanska (as she was known then) rose to international prominence when she shared First Prize at the celebrated Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1949 with Bella Davidovich, but she remained basically unknown in the West until the early 1980s when the BBC discovered that a recording released in 1971, supposedly performed by Dinu Lipatti in 1948 of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, was actually played by Czerny-Stefanska and the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Vaclav Neumann. When the mistake was exposed, it catapulted Czerny-Stefanska into a belated stardom. Unfortunately it was too little too late. She continued her minor career in Poland and the Soviet Union and never experienced the fame and exposure that she deserved. She died in 2001, the same year that her so-called "Lipatti" Chopin concerto recording was re-issued on the Supraphon label. Shortly after receiving First Prize at the 1949 Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, Halina Stefanska recorded in London a series of 78s for HMV. Since the world was converting from 78s to LPs at that time, many of her recordings had a very short shelf-life. From her London sessions of December 1949 we hear her beautifully sophisticated interpretation of Chopin's Waltz No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 18[Track 12].
Brilliant Romanian pianist Clara Haskil was born in Bucharest on 7 January 1895. When her father died, Haskil was taken to Vienna by her uncle. In 1903 she studied with Professor Richard Robert (who was also the teacher of Rudolf Serkin and George Szell). In 1905 she entered the Paris Conservatoire. Two years later the twelve-year old was admitted to Alfred Cortot's class. She graduated at the age of fifteen with the Premier Prix. Busoni heard the young pianist and invited her to study with him in Berlin. Her mother, however, declined the offer and instead, Clara began touring. In 1913 a series of physical problems temporarily halted her concert career. In an attempt to retard the onset of scoliosis, she was forced to spend the next four years in a plaster cast. These muscular problems plagued her throughout her life and impeded her career, although she continued to play during periods of remission of her ailment. Haskil also had an incredible affinity for the violin, having studied the instrument for several years. It is this deep understanding of the violin that made Haskil a perfect piano partner to so many of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, including Ysaÿe, Enesco, Grumiaux, Fournier, Szigeti, Francescatti, Stern, Menuhin, Szeryng and her sister, Jeanne. While on a concert tour with Arthur Grumiaux in Brussels, Haskil accidentally slipped and fell down a steep concrete stairway at the railway station. She was rushed unconscious to the hospital. On 7 December 1960 Clara Haskil died. Haskil was highly admired by her colleagues. Perhaps Nikita Magaloff stated it best: "Never, even amongst my most illustrious colleagues, have I met with that incredible and disconcerting facility and pianistic ease, which manifested itself always with a spontaneous, uncalculated, natural flow of the music. That which others achieve by work, research and reflection seems to have come to Clara from Heaven without any problems." Among her earliest recorded performances (from 1934) is the slightly abridged, but miraculously flowing Haydn Variations in F minor [Track 13].
Felicja Blumental was born in Warsaw on 28 December 1908. She was the daughter of a violinist and began piano lessons at the age of five, and made her début at the age of ten. She studied at the National Conservatory in Warsaw, taking piano lessons from Zbigniew Drzewiecki (who founded the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition) and composition lessons from the composer Karol Szymanowski. She later studied privately in Switzerland with Józef Turczynski, a noted Chopin interpreter and scholar. In 1938 she and her husband, painter Markus Mizne, moved first to Nice, then to Brazil to escape the growing anti-semitism in Europe. She became a Brazilian citizen, and for the rest of her life championed the music and composers of her adopted country. Her subsequent career saw her settling in Milan in 1962, then in 1973 in London. Blumental's repertoire was wide and adventurous, ranging from the Portuguese baroque to South American contemporary works. Her numerous recordings also included many forgotten concertos by composers such as Czerny, Ries, Paderewski, Tavares, Rubinstein, Paisiello, Stamitz, Albéniz, Kuhlau, Clementi, Lipatti, and Field. Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote his Piano Concerto No. 5 for her, and Krzysztof Penderecki dedicated his Partita for harpsichord and orchestra to her. Her recording of this work won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1975. She died on 31 December 1991, in Israel, on one of her many concert tours of the country. She is buried in Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul Cemetery. Her daughter, the singer Annette Celine, is one of the organizers of the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival, held annually. A champion of the music of early Spanish and Portuguese composers, she recorded for Decca/London several discs of re-discovered masterpieces. From recording sessions in London in 1952 we hear her sensitive and poetic performance of Antonio Soler's beautiful Sonata in C sharp minor [Track 14].
Frieda Valenzi was born on 15 May 1910, in Vienna. She studied at the Viennese State Academy for Music and Dramatic Art. Her teachers included the composer Joseph Marx, cellist/composer Franz Schmidt, and pianists Walter Kerschbaumer and Friedrich Wührer. Already in the years before World War II she was a teacher herself at that same academy and resumed teaching in 1950 (meanwhile the institute's name had been changed to the Academy for Music and Dramatic Art). In 1959 she received the title of professor, eventually retiring from active teaching duties in 1980. She continued to work, however, for another two years, but had to stop when a stroke paralyzed her on one side, making it impossible to continue teaching and performing. She died in 2002. Frieda Valenzi made her début in Vienna in the Musikvereinssaal performing the Piano Concerto of Edvard Grieg. She made extensive concert tours in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Canada, the United States and even Mozambique. Her vast repertory extended far beyond the great works of the classic and romantic periods. As a pianist she always had a strong affinity for the works of the modern composers and her list of performances of the contemporary piano literature is enormous, and included the concertos of Cristóbal Halffter, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Wilhelm Hübner, Ernst Krenek, Bruno Maderna, Frank Martin, Joseph Marx, Karl Franz Müller, Alois Pachernegg, Sergey Prokofiev, Albert Roussel, Arnold Schoenberg, Oscar Straus, Igor Stravinksy, Erich Urbanner, Francesco Valdambrini, Roger Vuatas, and Heinz Walberg, to name just a few. Frieda Valenzi regrettably did not make many recordings. Her three recordings for the Remington label were made around 1951. She also recorded for radio broadcasts with RAI in Rome. Her Goyescas recording on Remington was for a long time the only recording available until 1954 when the recordings of José Falgarona on VOX. Valenzi's edition suffered from an inferior recording and manufacturing technique. Remington did not do any editing at that time, so all of Valenzi's recordings are single, splice-free takes. From that historic recording we present Granados' El fandango de Candil [Track 15].
Amparo Iturbi, younger sister of José Iturbi, was born in Valencia on 2 March 1899. Her brother José was her teacher. At the age of fifteen she gave her début concert in Barcelona. Granados, who attended the concert, was very impressed and predicted a bright future for her career, praising her musicality and virtuosity. In 1925 she gave her first important concert outside of Spain – in Paris, at the Salle Gavaut. Soon after followed duo-piano recitals with her brother not only in France but also in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and England. On 2 May 1937, she was first heard in America in a performance of the Haydn Concerto in D major over the Columbia Broadcasting System. Her American concert début took place on 24 May at Orchestra Hall, Detroit, Michigan. Her programme included music by Soler, Schumann, Debussy, Fauré, Liszt, Albéniz, Granados and Falla. Her concert repertoire was enormous, from Bach, Haydn, Mozart, to romantic concertos by Grieg, Chopin and Schumann, to contemporary Spanish and French music, as well as new compositions by Shostakovich and her brother José. She recorded many works for two pianos with José Iturbi, and also several, much praised albums of solo works, including a complete recording of Granados' Goyescas. She died in Beverly Hills, California, on 21 April 1969 of a brain tumour. She is heard in one of her more rare recordings from 1949 of Manuel Infante's Guadalquivir[Track 16].
Helen Schnabel was born in New York on 22 July 1911, or so most official biographies claim. An interesting New York Times (28 March 1923) review of Helen Fogel's concert début at Aeolian Hall, however, states that the "14 year old… demonstrated a technique far beyond her years". The confusion is compounded when one reads the New York Times (25 April 1925) in its review of Fogel's second Aeolian Hall concert. It reads: "Helen Fogel, a 12-year-old pianist, gave a second recital…" Perhaps the newspaper got the age wrong. What is not in dispute is that Fogel studied piano with Manfred Malkin and Alexander Siloti at the Juilliard Institute of Musical Art. Then for four years (1934-1938) she studied with Artur Schnabel at Lake Como. She met Karl Ulrich Schnabel at Lake Como and they married in 1939. During the war she assisted her husband in war work at an electronic laboratory in Massachusetts. In 1947 she made her London début. She toured with Karl Ulrich in duo-piano recitals and performed many solo concerts in the United States, Canada, England, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. On 16 February 1956 she gave the first Viennese performance of the piano version of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, a work she also recorded. Helen Schnabel died of cancer at Gravedona (Lake Como), Italy, on 29 September 1974. Her first recordings were made in Vienna in 1952. She also made recordings for Epic and SPA in America and for Philips in Europe. Her repertoire was eclectic and extensive and included works by Weber, Schubert, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bizet, Ravel, Schnabel, and Malipiero's Poemi asolani (1916) from which we feature I partenti [Track 17].
Vera Franceschi was born in San Francisco on 5 May 1926. She studied with Carlo Zecchi, Alfredo Casella, and Germano Arnaldi at the Santa Cecilia Accademia at Rome, graduating in 1939. She then attended the Manhattan School of Music in New York studying with Harold Bauer and Carl Friedberg. Franceschi made her Paris début in 1939, her Milan début in 1940, and first appeared with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Pierre Monteux in 1948. So impressed with her pianistic abilities was Monteux that he took her on as his protégée and conducted her performances in Chicago and New York. In 1957 Franceschi married the baritone Daniele Barioni. The discovery of a tumour eventually led to her early death from cancer in 1966. Franceschi recorded for Italian Parlophone, CETRA/Soria, and Westminster. Her performances showed an ease of execution, a musicality, and interpretative playfulness rarely heard from young performers. The delightful La Ronda d'Aprile by Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli [Track 18] she recorded shortly after her 21st birthday.
Nadia Reisenberg was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 14th July, 1904. She began playing the piano at the age of six. At twelve she began studying with Leonid Nikolaev at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many years later she stated: "Almost everything I know about the physical side of piano-playing, I owe to Nikolaev's extremely detailed schooling. He gave me that which has served me in all the years since". The Russian Revolution came, and the Reisenberg family left Russia, travelling to Warsaw (where Nadia made her orchestral début at the same concert where a young conductor Artur Rodzinski was also making his formal début), London, Berlin, and, in 1922, moving permanently to New York. She became a pupil of Alexander Lambert (himself a student of Franz Liszt), and later also studied with Josef Hofmann at the Curtis Institute of Music. "From Hofmann I got a PhD in beautiful, sensitive pedalling, something that far too many pianists neglect these days," she remembered. She gave her first American recital at the Aeolian Hall in New York in 1924, before an audience that included Hofmann and Paderewski. Her programme included works by Bach, Glazunov, Scriabin, Liszt, Debussy, Medtner, Rameau-Godowsky and Albéniz. The New York Times proclaimed her to be "a pianist of evidently rare musical nature." This auspicious début began a major career that included solo tours, chamber concerts with the Budapest Quartet and many other ensembles, and appearances with most of the important orchestras. Upon her return to New York, she performed frequently on radio. From November 1938 to March 1939 she appeared on live studio broadcasts over WOR in an historic series of all of the Mozart piano concertos, conducted by Alfred Wallenstein. During the next decade she continued to perform a wide variety of concertos (Mischa Portnoff, Liszt No. 2, Kabalevsky, No. 2, d'Indy, Prokofiev No. 3, Rimsky-Korsakov, and others), and began to devote herself more fully to the two greatest musical joys in her life, chamber music and teaching. She appeared frequently with the cellists Joseph Schuster and Leonard Rose, violinists William Kroll, Joseph Fuchs, Mishel Piastro and Georges Enescu, the Budapest String Quartet, and with Benny Goodman recorded the Brahms Sonata in E flat major. She taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, was Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Southern California, and and guest lecturer at New York University. She also conducted master-classes for pupils and teachers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, with the New Jersey Music Teachers Associations, and was on the faculties of the Mannes and Queens Colleges, as well as the Juilliard School, in New York City. She continued her very active career to the very end, always committed to music. Her health failing, she died on Friday, 10 June 1983. Her solo repertoire included most of the important Russian composers, some of which she also recorded for Westminster. From her 1954 sessions, we hear a very sensitive performance of Rachmaninov's Melodie in E minor, Op. 10, No. 4 [Track 19].
Livia Rév was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1916. In 1923 she began her musical education with Margit Varro and Klara Mathe. It was evident from a very early age that she was exceptionally talented as she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges when she was nine. In later years she studied with Leo Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest (graduating in 1938), with Professor Robert Teichmuller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten of the Vienna Conservatory. She also won the Grand Prix de l'Académie Franz Liszt. In 1946 she was invited to participate in the Marguerite Long / Jacques Thibaud competition in Paris as one of several young European Jewish musicians brought there by the American Joint Distribution Commission (a fellow Hungarian, Hedy Schneider won that year). Sir Malcolm Sargent first brought her to the attention of the British public after a successful orchestral concert, and since that time her solo and concerto appearances in London during the 1950s were widely hailed. She appeared as a soloist with such conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Konstantin Silvestri and Walter Susskind. In 1963 she was invited to make her début in the United States by the Rockefeller Institute. Subsequently she made her New York début with a recital at the Town Hall which was outstandingly successful. Madame Rév now makes her home in France. Still quite active, between her travels to Japan, Hong Kong, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, she teaches at the Université Musicale Internationale de Paris. Each year she gives a public master-class at the Institut Hongrois in Paris, and has also appeared in recital at the Academy of Music in Budapest (most recently in 2006 in celebration of her ninetieth birthday). She has recorded extensively for SAGA, Palexa, and Hyperion. Among the works she recorded are the complete Préludes of Debussy, Chopin's complete Nocturnes and Mendelssohn's complete Songs Without Words. Among her earliest recordings made around 1947 were a series of sixteen-inch radio transcription discs for the Standard Program Library. From that set of recordings we hear her virtuosic performance of Francis Poulenc's Toccata [Track 20].
Marina and Victor Ledin
Notes and Acknowledgements 8.111217
With this volume of the Historical Anthology of Women Pianists, we at last confront the frustrating gaps in the historical record documenting the careers of several of the artists we are including in this series. It is a dilemma born of the place of women in music in general - as we have said, the achievements of women artists in general and women musicians in particular have been shamefully ignored until recently - and the principal reason for this series has been to redress this neglect.
Though this neglect thankfully did not include the recording companies that preserved the performances we have discovered in the course of preparing this series, we must apologize in advance for the scanty trail we have so far discovered for several of the artists included in this volume, and we appeal to our auditors for any information they may be able to share about these artists that has so far not come to our attention.
A project of this scope and size requires due diligence and assistance from scholars, collectors and librarians. Since the recordings are rare and scarce, we have relied on many musical colleagues to provide advice, their discerning ears, their extensive collections, and willingness to help in order to preserve and share recordings not commonly heard today. Special thanks go to Peter Bromley, Paolo Zeccara, to archivist and discographer Michael Gray for making sure that the historical data was accurate, and to Rudolf Bruil for the biographical information on Frieda Valenzi. Many thanks to engineer and collector Richard Wahlberg, historian and collector Lance Bowling, pianist William Corbett-Jones, and researcher Terry McNeill. Additional thanks go to Michael Gartz and Peter Ford for their advice, and for searching and locating extra copies of some of the recordings.
Annarosa TADDEI (b.1918)
Rosalyn TURECK (1914-2003)
Ethel LEGINSKA (1886-1970)
Isabelle YALKOVSKY (Byman) (1906-1981)
Maro AJEMIAN (1920-1978)
Gisèle KUHN (1910-1996)
Ida KREHM (1912-1998)
Yvonne LORIOD (b.1924)
Phyllis SELLICK (b.1911)
Elly NEY (1882-1968)
Halina CZERNY-STEFANSKA (1922-2001)
Clara HASKIL (1895-1960)
Felicja BLUMENTAL (1908-1991)
Frieda VALENZI (1910-2002)
Amparo ITURBI (1899-1969)
Helen SCHNABEL (1911-1974)
Vera FRANCESCHI (1926-1966)
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