Dvorak – Piano Concerto in G minor, Op.33-Rudolf Firkusny:
The concerto has three movements:
Rudolf Firkušný was a Czech-born 11 February 1912 — 19 July 1994) , American classical pianist.Born in Moravian Napajedla, Firkušný started his musical studies with the composers Leoš Janáček and Josef Suk, and the pianist Vilém Kurz. Later he studied with Alfred Cortot and Artur Schnabel. He began performing on the continent of Europe in the 1920s, and made his debuts in London in 1933 and New York in 1938. He escaped the Nazis in 1939, fled to Paris, later settled in New York and became a U.S. citizen. Firkušný had a broad repertoire and performed with skill the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms as well as Debussy and Mussorgsky. However, he became known especially for his performances of the Czech composers Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů (who wrote a number of works for him), as well as recordings of the complete piano works of Janáček.
Firkušný championed Dvořák’s only piano concerto, which he played with many different conductors and orchestras around the world and also recorded it several times. Originally he performed the revised version made by his teacher Kurz, and even arranged it further; yet in the end, he came back to the original Dvořák score.
Firkušný was also a devoted chamber player, and among his most prominent partners were cellists Pierre Fournier, Gregor Piatigorsky, János Starker and Lynn Harrell, violinists Nathan Milstein and Erika Morini, violist William Primrose and the Juilliard String Quartet. He also gave many first performances of contemporary composers, not only Czech like his friends Bohuslav Martinů or Vítězslava Kaprálová, but also of Howard Hanson, Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber and Alberto Ginastera. Firkušný taught at the Juilliard School in New York, and in Aspen, Colorado as well as in the Berkshire Music Centre in Tanglewood. Among his students were Yefim Bronfman, Eduardus Halim, Alan Weiss, Sara Davis Buechner, Carlisle Floyd, Kathryn Selby, Avner Arad, June de Toth, Richard Cionco, Robin McCabe, Anya Laurence, Natasa Veljkovic and Carlo Grante. After the fall of the communist regime in his homeland (the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989), Firkušný returned to Czechoslovakia to perform for the first time after more than 40 years of absence. This was acclaimed as one of the major events of his festival, as well as return of his compatriot and friend Rafael Kubelík. He retained his remarkable talents well into his later years and, for example, played a full Dvořák-Janáček-Brahms-Beethoven sonata recital in Prague on 18 May 1992 together with the violinist Josef Suk (the namesake and grandson of his teacher, and great-grandson of Dvořák). He played only two times at the Prague Spring International Music Festival, first in 1946 performed Dvořák’s piano concerto, and in 1990 he played the second piano concerto of Bohuslav Martinů. He died in Staatsburg, New York in 1994. In 2007 his and his wife’s ashes were reburied together in an honorary place at the Central Cemetery in Brno, close to his first teacher Leoš Janáček. In 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his birh, there is a large festival held by Brno’s Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts to commemorate the centennial, featuring many of his former alumni from The Juilliard School. His student Carlisle Floyd wrote his only Piano Sonata in the 1950s, for Firkušný, who performed it once, at a Carnegie Hall recital. It then languished until being taken up in 2009 by the 74-year old Daniell Revenaugh, who studied it with the composer and made its first recording.