Edith Farnadi was a child prodigy first receiving lessons from her mother, herself a pianist, before entering the Liszt Academy in Budapest at the age of nine. It was there that she studied under Arnold Székely, Leo Weiner, Béla Bartók and Ilona Deckers-Küszler. At twelve she played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 15, conducting the orchestra from the keyboard. During her years at the Liszt Academy she was awarded the Liszt Prize twice, and after gaining her diploma, Farnadi returned as a professor. After World War II she settled in Austria and joined the staff of the Music Academy of Graz where she remained until 1970, combining a teaching and performing career. Whilst still a student, Farnadi formed a partnership with the great Hungarian violinist Jenő Hubay, and later played with Bronisław Huberman and André Gertler. Farnadi performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw, and London Philharmonic Orchestras, with such conductors as Karl Böhm, Ernest Ansermet and Adrian Boult.
During the 1950s Farnadi made a series of LP recordings for Westminster. These include music by Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, Grieg and Franck; the latter two composers being represented by violin sonatas recorded with André Gertler. Farnadi’s most important recordings are those of Liszt, and her complete series of the Hungarian Rhapsodies (Nos 1–19 plus the Rhapsodie Espagnole) from 1953 was reissued on compact disc by MCA in 1991. Farnadi has a sure technique and delivers the music without bombast, avoiding overblown performances. However, her other Liszt recordings still await reissue and among these are a complete recording of the Années de pèlerinage, the Piano Sonata in B minor, the first Mephisto-Waltz, the Grandes Études de Paganini, the Ungarische Bildnisse, a disc of opera transcriptions (including the overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser), the complete Soirées de Vienne, and the two piano concertos which she recorded with Hermann Scherchen (and later again with Adrian Boult). Farnadi recorded Bartók’s Mikrokosmos on three LPs, and his Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 3, also with Scherchen. One of her lesser-known discs is one of her best. Recorded in London in June 1955, it is of paraphrases of works by Johann Strauss, including the famous three by Godowsky, and Farnadi has the style and technique to play these with charm and subtlety.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10).