Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Mieczysław Horszowski - biography


Mieczyslaw Horszowski, a Polish pianist and composer, was born on 23 of June 1892 in Lemberg (now Lviv), and died on 23 May 1993 in Philadelphia. His father owned a piano warehouse and his mother was a pianist, a pupil of Karol Mikuli. A child prodigy, he began playing the piano at the age of four with his mother. After a year he had lessons with Ksawera Zacharyasiewicz, and in 1898 he commenced education at the conservatory in Lemberg, studying piano under Henryk Melcer, theory under Adam Sołtys, and composition under Stanisław Niewiadomski. On 26 June 1898 he made his debut in Lemberg playing with professor Melcer the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos in D major. In July 1899 he started lessons with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, and in 1900 he gave there his first performance. In 1902 he made debuts in Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Lodz and Warsaw, where he played the Beethoven Concerto in C major with Emil Młynarski conducting. Critics wrote, inter alia: "This child's playing, despite the accomplished maturity, which is contradicted only by the fragile petite hand, still contains the childlike charm. [...] He did not drop a single note, although he played the entire piece from memory. While following the exact phrasing, he revealed his musical intuition. The playing was not carefully-wrought, yet stylish and effortless. A brilliant phenomenon.” The next year he performed in Warsaw and Berlin again and continued to work with Leschetizky in Vienna. In 1904 he gave his first four performances in Paris. On 15 February 1905 he played a concert at the Milan La Scala, dubbed "a marathon", during which he played the Mozart Concerto in D minor, the Beethoven Concerto in G major, with his own cadences, the Chopin Andante spianato and the Grande Polonaise in E flat major, and a number of pieces for solo piano. Before the end of the year he toured in Portugal, and twice in France and Spain, where he met Pablo Casals and Enrique Granados. On 11 April 1906 he gave his first performance in London, on 24 April he played for Pope Pius X at Vatican City, and on 30 December he debuted at the New York Carnegie Hall. Between 1911 and 1913 he lived in Paris studying literature, philosophy and art history. In the following year he moved to Italy, where, according to his own words, he could devote time to his three loves: chamber music, teaching and mountain trekking. After the outbreak of World War II, in 1940 he played for Pope Pius XII, and next he went on a two-year tour of South America, performing at charity concerts in aid of war victims. In Rio de Janeiro he attracted attention playing a spectacular series of recitals of all the Bach partitas, preludes and fugues, all piano works by Beethoven and a set of Mozart sonatas. In 1942 he accepted the position of a professor at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. After the war he visited Poland three times: in 1960 he sat on the jury of the International Chopin Competition, in 1964 he performed in Warsaw and Katowice, and in 1984 he gave a recital in Warsaw. Due to his extraordinary memory, his repertoire included almost all works for solo piano, as well as chamber pieces ranging from baroque to contemporary music. He performed with the greatest musicians of the 20th century. He is the author of several piano pieces, a sonata for violin, songs, and a string quartet. His pupils included Malcolm Bilson, Eugene Istomin, Steven de Groote, Anton Kuerti, Ruth Laredo, Cecile Licad, Seymour Lipkin, Murray Perahia and Peter Serkin.

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