Tag Archives: Joseph Szigeti

HISTORIC MUSICAL MOMENTS: Clara Haskil: Schumann – ‘Abegg’ Variations, Op. 1


[youtube.com/watch?v=UqOvdlthl8E]

Clara Haskil: Schumann – ‘Abegg’ Variations, Op. 1

Clara Haskil (7 January 1895 – 7 December 1960) was a Romanian classical pianist, renowned as an interpreter of the classical and early romantic repertoire. Haskil was particularly noted for her performances and recordings of Mozart. Many considered her the foremost interpreter of Mozart in her time. She was also noted as a superb interpreter of Beethoven, Schumann, and Scarlatti. Haskil was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania and studied in Vienna under Richard Robert (whose memorable pupils also included Rudolf Serkin and George Szell) and briefly with Ferruccio Busoni. She later moved to Paris, where she started studying with Gabriel Fauré’s pupil Joseph Morpain, whom she always credited as one of her greatest influences. The same year she entered the Paris Conservatoire, officially to study with Alfred Cortot although most of her instruction came from Lazare Lévy and Mme Giraud-Letarse, and graduated at age 15 with a Premier Prix. She also graduated with a Premier Prix in violin. Upon graduating, Haskil began to tour Europe, though her career was cut short by one of the numerous physical ailments she suffered throughout her life. In 1913 she was fitted with a plaster cast in an attempt to halt the progression of scoliosis. Frequent illnesses, combined with extreme stage fright that appeared in 1920, kept her from critical or financial success. Most of her life was spent in abject poverty. It was not until after World War II, during a series of concerts in the Netherlands in 1949, that she began to win acclaim. Well regarded as a chamber musician, Haskil collaborated with such famed musicians as George Enescu, Eugène Ysaÿe, Pablo Casals, Joseph Szigeti, Géza Anda, Isaac Stern and Arthur Grumiaux, with whom she played her last concert. While renowned primarily as a violinist, Grumiaux was also a fine pianist, and he and Haskil would sometimes swap instruments. She played as a soloist under the baton of such conductors as Ansermet, Barbirolli, Baumgartner, Beecham, Boult, Celibidache, Cluytens, Fricsay, Giulini, Inghelbrecht, Jochum, Karajan, Kempe, Klemperer, Kubelík, Markevitch, Monteux, Münch, Paray, Rosbaud, Sawallisch, Solti, Stokowski, Szell, among many others. One of her most prominent performances as a soloist with an orchestra is recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 24 in November 1960 with Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux conducted by Igor Markevitch (issued on CD by Philips Classics under No. 464 718-2); this recording features an unusually slow, pensive performance of K466’s part III and a very subtle, highly lyrical and yet, in some way, vigorous playing of K491’s part II. Haskil died from injuries received through a fall at the staircase of a Brussels train station. She was to play a concert with Arthur Grumiaux the following day. An esteemed friend of Haskil, Charles Chaplin, described her talent by saying “In my lifetime I have met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil. I am not a trained musician but I can only say that her touch was exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary.” (Swiss Radio interview, 19 April 1961.) The Clara Haskil International Piano Competition is held biannually in her memory. The brochure reads: “The Clara Haskil Competition was founded in 1963 to honour and perpetuate the memory of the incomparable Swiss pianist, of Romanian origin, who was born in Bucharest in 1895. It takes place every two years in Vevey, Switzerland, where Clara Haskil resided from 1942 until her death in Brussels in 1960. A street in Vevey bears her name. The Competition welcomes young pianists from all over the world, who pursue the musical ideal that is inspired by Clara Haskil and which will always remain exemplary.”… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Ha…

A link to this wonderful artists personal Website: http://www.deccaclassics.com/cat/sing…

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