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LEOPOLD GODOWSKY

The great Polish-American pianist Leopold Godowsky was born at Soshly, a village near the Lithuanian city of Vilnius, in 1870, the son of a doctor. The first signs of his exceptional musical ability were clear by the age of three and he wrote his first compositions four years later, in 1879 making his first public appearance as a pianist. There followed a series of concerts in Germany and Poland and a very short period of study with Ernst Rudorff, a pupil of Clara Schumann and of Moscheles, at the Berlin Musikhochschule. Four months at the Hochschule proved enough and in the same year, 1884, Godowsky made his first appearance in the United States in Boston, under the auspices of the Clara Louise Kellogg Concert Company, then touring with that singer and with the singer Emma Thursby. 1885 brought appearances at the New York Casino, in weekly alternation with the Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño. The following year he undertook a tour of Canada with the Belgian violinist Ovide Musin, for whom Saint-Saëns had written his Morceau de concert.

In the hope of studying with Liszt, Godowsky returned to Europe, but, learning of Liszt’s death from a newspaper, he travelled, instead, to Paris, with the object of studying with Camille Saint-Saëns, distinguished equally as a pianist and a composer. Saint-Saëns was impressed by Godowsky’s playing and suggested that he should adopt him, on condition that he changed his name, a suggestion that Godowsky rejected. For the better part of three years, however, their relationship continued, with Sundays spent together, Godowsky playing to Saint-Saëns, before the latter played to his disciple his own compositions. The contact was a valuable one and allowed Godowsky to meet leading figures in contemporary musical life, including Tchaikovsky, whose music he played in that composer’s presence at the Paris chamber-music society, La Trompette. In 1927, six years after the death of Saint-Saëns, Godowsky transcribed for piano his mentor’s La cygne (The Swan), from the Carnival of the Animals, and on his own deathbed in 1938 had a friend play this to him.

In 1890 Godowsky returned to America, where he joined the staff of the New York College of Music, married, and took out American citizenship. While continuing his career as a performer, he visited Philadelphia in 1894 and 1895, as the head of the piano department at the music school founded by Gilbert Raynold Combs, and from 1895 to 1900 led the piano department of the Chicago Conservatory. A successful concert in Berlin persuaded him to settle there in the latter year, teaching and using the city as his base for concert tours throughout Europe and the Near East. In 1909 he moved to Vienna to direct the piano masterclass at the Akademie der Tonkunst.

There were American tours between 1912 and 1914 and with the outbreak of war Godowsky settled again in the United States, giving concerts and clarifying his innovative theories of keyboard technique in a series of editions and publications. At the same time he continued to write music of his own for the piano. He gave his last concert in the United States in 1922, but continued to tour throughout the world, acknowledged as one of the leading virtuosi of his time. His career as a performer was curtailed by a stroke in 1930, depriving him of the ability to play for the last eight years of his life. He was now increasingly led to pin his hopes for a lasting place in the history of music on his compositions and transcriptions for the piano. Such recognition, however, has been slow to come.

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Romantic Piano Favourites Vol 2 Naxos 8.505029

View by Role: Classical Artist | Classical Composer | Arranger
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 
A TO Z OF PIANISTS Naxos Educational
8.558107-10
Instrumental

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
DELIUS: Piano Concerto / RAVEL: Jeux d'eau (Moiseiwitsch, Vol. 6) (1925-1950) Naxos Historical
8.110689
Instrumental
Easy-Listening Piano Classics: Godowsky Naxos
8.578093-95
Instrumental
GILELS, Emil: Early Recordings, Vol. 1 (1935-1951) Naxos Historical
8.111350
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 1 (Scherbakov) - Airs of the 18th Century / 3 Pieces / 4 Poems Marco Polo
8.223793
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 2 (Scherbakov) - Transcriptions of Violin Sonatas by J. S. Bach Marco Polo
8.223794
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 3 (Scherbakov) - Baroque Transcriptions and Settings Marco Polo
8.223795
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 4 (Scherbakov) - Triakontameron Marco Polo
8.223898
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 5 (Scherbakov) - Piano Sonata in E Minor Marco Polo
8.223899
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 6 (Scherbakov) - Schubert Transcriptions Marco Polo
8.225187
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 7 (Scherbakov) - Piano Transcriptions of Bach Cello Suites Nos. 2, 3 and 5 Marco Polo
8.225267
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 8 (Scherbakov) - Java Suite / Wine, Women and Song Marco Polo
8.225274
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 9 (Scherbakov) - Chopin Waltz Transcriptions / Arabesque / Barcarolle-Valse (Scherbakov) Marco Polo
8.225226
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 10 (Scherbakov) - Walzesmasken Marco Polo
8.225276
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 11 (Scherbakov) - Symphonic Metamorphosis of the themes from Der Zigeunerbaron / Suite for the Left Hand Marco Polo
8.225350
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Music, Vol. 12 (Scherbakov) - 6 Waltz Poems for the Left Hand Alone / Transcriptions Marco Polo
8.225364
Instrumental
GODOWSKY, L.: Violin and Piano Music - 12 Impressions / Avowal / Waltz Poems (Rashidova, Chadwick) Naxos
8.573058
Chamber Music
GODOWSKY, L.: Walzermasken (Prunyi) Marco Polo
8.223312
Instrumental
GODOWSKY: Piano Music for Four Hands Marco Polo
8.223475
Instrumental
GOT A MINUTE? - Paraphrases on Chopin's "Minute Waltz" and Other Works BIS
BIS-CD-1083
Instrumental
HEIFETZ, J.: Transcriptions (Aharonian, Safonova) Delos
DE3351
Chamber Music
Heifetz, Jascha: Miniatures, Vol. 2 (1944-1948) Naxos Historical
8.111380
Chamber Music
HELPS, R.: Chamber Music with Piano - Piano Trios / Piano Quartet / Quintet / Duo (Helps in Berlin) (Helps, Atos Trio, Spectrum Concerts Berlin) Naxos
8.559696-97
Instrumental
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (1914-1916) Naxos Historical
8.112064
Chamber Music
LEGATO - THE WORLD OF THE PIANO - BEREZOVSKY, Boris: Change of Plans (NTSC) EuroArts
2055758
Classical Concert
LEGATO - THE WORLD OF THE PIANO (4-DVD Box Set) (NTSC) EuroArts
2059848
Classical Concert
LISZT, F. / GODOWSKY, L.: Piano Transcriptions (Schliessmann) (NTSC) Arthaus Musik
100455
Classical Concert
NISHIZAKI, Takako: Fritz Kreisler Edition, Vol. 3 Naxos
8.557869
Chamber Music
NISHIZAKI, Takako: Fritz Kreisler Edition, Vol. 8 Naxos
8.557874
Chamber Music
PAPERNO, Dmitry: Piano Recital Cedille
CDR90000-074
Instrumental
Piano Recital: Antti Siirala Naxos
8.555997
Instrumental
Piano Recital: Bordoni, Paolo - CHOPIN, F. / ZICHY, G. / LISZT, F. / SCHUBERT, F. / GRIEG, E. / DEBUSSY, C. / GODOWSKY, L. / RAVEL, M. Divox
CDX-29310
Instrumental
Piano Recital: Kubalek, Antonin - BEETHOVEN, L. van / CHOPIN, F. / LISZT, F. / DEBUSSY, C. (My Gift to You - A Treasury of Favorite Piano Encores) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90218
Instrumental
Piano Recital: Labe, Thomas - BACH, J.S. / GODOWSKY, L. (Transcendental Bach) Dorian Sono Luminus
DIS-80117
Instrumental
Polish Heart (The) Naxos
8.554774
Instrumental
ROMANTIC PIANO FAVOURITES, Vol. 8 Naxos
8.550217
Instrumental
ROMANTIC PIANO FAVOURITES, Vol. 8 Naxos
8.570089
Instrumental
STRAUSS II, J.: Paraphrases and Arrangements of Favorite Strauss Melodies by Rosenthal, Tausig, Godowsky and Schulz-Evler (Virtuoso Strauss) (Labe) Dorian Sono Luminus
DIS-80102
Instrumental
STRAUSS II, J.: Waltzes (arr. Schoenberg, Berg and Webern) (The Philharmonics) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) Accentus Music
ACC-10228
Classical Concert
STRAUSS II, J.: Waltzes (arr. Schoenberg, Berg and Webern) (The Philharmonics) (NTSC) Accentus Music
ACC-20228
Classical Concert
Welte-Mignon Piano Rolls, Vol. 1 (1905-1927) Naxos Historical
8.110677
Instrumental
WOMEN AT THE PIANO - AN ANTHOLOGY OF HISTORIC PERFORMANCES, Vol. 3 (1928-1954) Naxos Historical
8.111217
Instrumental

Role: Arranger 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 





 
 
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