Saint Saens – Piano conc.No.2 – Arthur Rubinstein
Saint Saens: Piano Concerto No.2, Piano: Arthur Rubinstein – Conducted: Andre Previn London Symphony Orchestra 1975. Arthur Rubinstein was born in Łódź (January 28, 1887 — December 20, 1982), Congress Poland (part of the Russian Empire for the entire time Rubinstein resided there) on January 28, 1887, to a Jewish family. He was the youngest of seven children, and his father owned a small textile factory. Arthur Rubinstein. However, his United States impresario Sol Hurok insisted he be billed as Artur, and records were released in the West under both versions of his name. At the age of two, Rubinstein demonstrated perfect pitch and a fascination with the piano, watching his elder sister’s piano lessons. By the age of four, he was recognised as a child prodigy. His father had a predilection for the violin and offered Rubinstein a violin; but Rubinstein rejected it because he thought his instinct was for harmony and polyphony. The Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, on hearing the four-year-old child play, was greatly impressed, told Arthur’s family, 1894, seven-year-old Arthur Rubinstein had his debut with pieces by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn. At the age of ten, Rubinstein moved to Berlin to continue his studies, and gave his first performance with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1900, at the age of 13. Rubinstein made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 1906, and thereafter toured the United States, Austria, Italy, and Russia. In 1912, he made his London debut, and found a home there in the Edith Grove, Chelsea, musical salon of Paul and Muriel Draper, in company with Kochanski, Igor Stravinsky, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo Casals, Pierre Monteux and others. During World War I, Rubinstein stayed in London, giving recitals and accompanying the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. In 1916 and 1917, he made his first tours in Spain and South America where he was wildly acclaimed. It was during those tours that he developed a lifelong enthusiasm for the music of Enrique Granados, Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, and Heitor Villa-Lobos. He was the dedicatee of Villa-Lobos’s Rudepoêma and Stravinsky’s Trois mouvements de Petrouchka. Rubinstein was disgusted by Germany’s conduct during the war, and never played there again. His last performance in Germany was in 1914. In 1921 Rubinstein gave two American tours, travelling to New York with Karol Szymanowski and his close friend Paul Kochanski. In 1932, the pianist, who stated he neglected his technique in his early years, relying instead on natural talent, withdrew from concert life for several months of intensive study and practice. Rubinstein toured the United States again in 1937, his career becoming centered there during the World War II years when he lived in Brentwood, California. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1946. A cast of the pianist’s hands, at the Łódź museum During his time in California, Rubinstein provided the piano soundtrack for several films, including Song of Love with Katherine Hepburn. He appeared, as himself, in films Carnegie Hall and Of Men and Music. Although best known as a recitalist and concerto soloist, Rubinstein was also considered an outstanding chamber musician, partnering with such luminaries as Henryk Szeryng, Jascha Heifetz, Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky, and the Guarneri Quartet. Rubinstein recorded much of the core piano repertoire, particularly that of the Romantic composers. At the time of his death, the New York Times in describing him wrote, “Chopin was his specialty . . . it was [as] a Chopinist that he was considered by many without peer”. With the exception of the Études, he recorded most of the works of Chopin. He was one of the earliest champions of the Spanish and South American composers and of French composers who, in the early twentieth century, were still considered “modern” such as Debussy and Ravel. In addition, Rubinstein was the first champion of the music of his compatriot Karol Szymanowski. Rubinstein, in conversation with Alexander Scriabin, named Brahms as his favorite composer, a response that enraged Scriabin. In 1975, a documentary named Artur Rubinstein, Love of Life was on; a TV special named Rubinstein at 90 represented he had been playing for people for eight decades. By the mid-1970s, Rubinstein’s eyesight had begun to deteriorate. He retired from the stage at age eighty-nine in May 1976, giving his last concert at London’s Wigmore Hall, where he had first played nearly seventy years before. Rubinstein, who was fluent in eight languages, held much of the repertoire, not simply that of the piano, in his formidable memory.