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Roberto Szidon, although born in Brazil, is of Hungarian descent. Even though a remarkably gifted child, he avoided the life of a child prodigy, studying medicine alongside his musical education and becoming a medical officer in the Brazilian army. He first appeared in public at the age of nine and completed his studies with Claudio Arrau in New York, receiving tuition and encouragement also from Felicja Blumental and Arthur Rubinstein. Szidon’s career was launched when he was awarded the São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro Prize. As a young man he toured the United States, South America and Europe as a recitalist and as soloist with many orchestras. At his debut in London he played Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op. 30 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jerzy Semkov at the Royal Festival Hall. By the late 1960s Szidon was playing the piano sonatas of Alexander Scriabin and beginning to concentrate on contemporary and twentieth-century music. He recorded the ‘Concord’ Sonata by Charles Ives and in 1980 in London he gave the première performance of Henze’s Sonatina for Violin and Piano, a work based on his own Pollicino, with violinist Jenni Abel. Three years later he was the soloist in a performance of the Piano Concerto by Loris Tjeknavorian given in Brighton with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer. Today Szidon appears as a judge on many piano competition panels and gives master-classes in chamber music and piano.

Szidon made an LP for Deutsche Grammophon in 1968 as one of their Debut Series. On it he gives impressive virtuoso accounts of the Piano Sonata No. 6 by Prokofiev, the Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 36 by Rachmaninov (1931 version), and the Piano Sonata No. 4 Op. 30 by Scriabin. Between 1968 and 1971 Szidon recorded the complete piano sonatas of Scriabin, including two works of juvenilia edited by himself and Richard Metzler. These recordings, which were for some years the only complete set of Scriabin’s piano sonatas, have long been praised and are still in the catalogue. With the Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor Op. 19 Szidon gives a rather straightforward reading of the Presto that lacks excitement, yet of the Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp Op. 53 he gives a fantastic and thrilling performance. Szidon’s other well known recording is of the complete Hungarian Rhapsodies by Franz Liszt made in 1972. As with the Scriabin sonatas, his recording of the Liszt Rhapsodies is uneven, with some being given more successful readings than others. Other recordings for Deutsche Grammophon include a recital disc of works by Villa-Lobos, Chopin’s complete scherzos and impromptus, piano concertos by Gershwin and MacDowell (with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Edward Downes), and the music of Charles Ives where, in addition to the ‘Concord’ Sonata, Szidon plays the Three-Page Sonata from 1905. On Szidon’s most recent disc, made for BMG in 1992, he appears with baritone Thomas Quasthoff in Schumann’s Dichterliebe Op. 48, Liederkreis Op. 39 and some other works.

Role: Classical Artist 
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