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ETELKA FREUND

Etelka Freund was born in 1879. Her brother, Robert Freund (1852–1936) was a student of Moscheles and Liszt, and an important piano teacher at the Conservatory of Zürich (1876–1912). Her talent was recognised at an early age, and from the ages of 11 to 15 she studied in Budapest with Stefan Thoman, a Liszt pupil who also taught Bartók. When she was 16 she went to Vienna, where she was to study with Theodor Leschetizky. Perhaps on Brahms’s advice she instead chose to work with Ignaz Brüll and took theory lessons from Eusebius Mandyczewski. During her year in Vienna she spent many hours with Johannes Brahms. Brahms coached her and prevailed on the exclusive Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna that she be elected as a member, despite being a student. After that extraordinary year in Vienna, Freund joined her brother in Zürich for a year of lessons. He suggested she work with Busoni and in 1898, Busoni admitted her to his masterclasses in Weimar and Berlin. She also studied counterpoint and composition with Béla Bartók (1902–03). She was a lifelong friend of his and an inspired interpreter of his music. Freund’s début took place in 1901 with Busoni conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, with Beethoven’s C minor Concerto, and Brahms’s D minor Concerto, soon leading to European tours. In 1910 Freund married and interrupted her concert career to raise two sons. When her husband was forced to retire in 1936, Freund returned to the concert stage, performing in Holland, London and Hungary. Freund emigrated to the United States in 1946 and made her début at Washington’s National Gallery in 1947. Despite critical acclaim, managers and concert venues were unwilling to engage a 68-year-old unknown pianist, and few concert engagements occurred for her in the United States. She performed on radio (some of those recordings have been preserved and reissued) and she remained in top musical form for many more years. She died in Zürich on 27 May 1977.

Role: Classical Artist 
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