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Benno Moiseiwitsch

Langue disponible : anglais
Benno Moiseiwitsch was one of the early 20th century piano virtuosi who dazzled audiences with his technique and elegant expression. Precociously talented, he studied with the legendary Leschetizky in Vienna before joining his family in England and eventually taking British citizenship. He had a somewhat impersonal stage presence, but his playing was brilliant and effortless, passionate and sophisticated. He excelled in the music of the Romantic era but also performed works by his contemporaries Rachmaninov, Poulenc, and Medtner impressively. His recordings, primarily for His Master's Voice, covered the 78-rpm through early stereo eras. Much of it has been re-issued on labels specializing in historical recordings. Moiseiwitsch was born in 1890 in Odessa. He was precociously talented, evidenced by his winning the Anton Rubinstein Prize when he was nine years old, after having studied with Dmitry Klimov at the Music Academy in Odessa. At the age of 14, he went to Vienna to study with Theodor Leschetizky. Meanwhile, his family emigrated to England, so when he made his debut as a mature artist, it was in Reading in 1908, followed by an appearance in London in 1910. He made his first recording in 1916 for His Master's Voice (later EMI), staying with the label until 1960. His first American appearance was after World War I, in 1919. He achieved an important international concert career, touring extensively throughout Europe, the Americas, East Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific islands. This heavy schedule derailed his plans to open a music school to continue teaching the Leschetizky method to piano students. Moiseiwitsch, who had adopted the Germanized version of his name while in Vienna, became a British subject in 1937. During the war years, he tirelessly performed for service members and charities, for which he was later rewarded with a CBE appointment. He adopted a similar stage appearance to that of his friend Sergey Rachmaninov and his fellow Odessan Jascha Heifetz: an undemonstrative, reserved, even cold demeanor. Critics found the same qualities in his playing, yet recordings suggest passionate interpretations, particularly of late-Romantic and Russian music. He frequently played Rachmaninov, with the composer often remarking that Moiseiwitsch played his music better than he did. Moiseiwitsch was one of the new champions outside Russia of his friend, composer Nikolay Medtner. Although his repertory centered on the Romantic era (his Baroque and Classical era repertory was almost invariably made up of Romantic transcriptions), he did premiere several pieces by contemporaries, including Francis Poulenc. Moiseiwitsch made his last recordings in 1961 for Decca, which included a recording of music by Schumann, the composer to whom he felt the most sympathy. Moiseiwitsch died just two years later, in 1963, in London. Much of his recorded legacy has been re-issued on labels such as Naxos Historical and APR, among others.
© TiVo Staff /TiVo
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