Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Leopold Godowski - biography


Leopold Godowsky, an American composer and pianist of Lithuanian origin, was born on 13 February 1870 in Zosle (Sozly), near Vilnius, and died on 21 November 1938 in New York. He was only three years old when he began learning the violin and his parents introduced him to Henryk Wieniawski, who judged that he was too young. However, he soon began his musical education in piano instead. In 1897, at the age of nine he was already proficient enough to make his first public appearance in Vilnius. The success of this performance encouraged him to go on tour of Poland and Germany. After the concerts in Berlin he took up studies at the Königliche Hochschule für Musik learning the piano with Ernst Rudorff and composition with Woldemar Bargiel. In 1884 Godowsky went on tour of the United States. Two years later he appeared in Paris, where he became a pupil of Camille Saint-Saëns. "I worked under the supervision of a virtuoso for three years," he revealed to a Warsaw journalist in an interview. He continued learning and playing concerts, appearing also in England, where he played for Queen Victoria. In 1890, he went to the USA again, and in the following year accepted American citizenship. He opened a piano class at the New York College of Music and did not leave America until 1900, resorting to teaching and holding positions at Conservatories in Philadelphia and Chicago. In autumn 1900 he returned to Europe and resumed performing. On 6 December 1900 he gave a sensational concert in Berlin, after which he was acclaimed as Liszt's successor and offered a position as head of piano master class at the Academy of Music. In 1902 he performed in Warsaw, where he played the Tchaikovsky Concerto in B flat minor and Chopin works, as well as two recitals of pieces by different composers. He also performed his own works, including a series of his re-workings of the Chopin studies. In 1909, Godowsky succeeded Busoni as a professor at the Viennese Akademie der Tonkunst. Between 1914 and 1918 he stayed in the United States, and returned to Europe after the war. In 1911 and 1926 he gave concerts in Poland. At the beginning of the 1930s, Godowsky suffered a stroke and his right hand became impaired, causing him to cease performing. As a composer, he left over a dozen original pieces, such as the Sonata in E minor, 24 Walzermasken, Triakontameron, Java Suite, and several dozen transcriptions of works by Lully, Dandrieu, Rameau, Corelli, Schobert, Scarlatti, Schubert, Schumann, Bizet, Godard, Saint-Saëns, Henselt, Johann Strauss, son, Richard Strauss, Albéniz, Weber, Chopin (53 Studien über Chopins Etüden). His pupils included Henryk Neuhaus, Jan Smeterlin, Franciszek Łukasiewicz, Issay Dobrowen, Leonard Liebling and Walter Rummel.

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