Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Aleksander Michałowski - biography


Aleksander Michałowski, a Polish pianist and composer, was born on 17 May 1851 in Kamieniec Podolski, and died on 17 October 1938 in Warsaw. He began piano lessons with his mother at the age of six. "I was a bit slow when I started lessons with my mother - he said in a press interview - but at the age of ten, I was so into music that I finally got down to it seriously [...]. For the next seven years I played spontaneously, [...] the volatility of my playing, which I had the sense of for many more years, was accomplished while practising Prudent's studies." From 1867 to 1869 he studied at the Leipzig Conservatory under Theodor Coccius and Ignaz Moscheles (piano), and under Carl Reinecke (composition). At his diploma concert he performed, inter alia the Chopin Piano Concerto in E minor with the Gewandhaus Orchestra. At that time he had a vast repertoire including all preludes and fugues from Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, which he could transpose to any key, all sonatas by Beethoven and many works by Chopin, Moscheles, Reinecke, Liszt, Schumann and others. For a few months in 1869, he took up lessons under Karol Tausig in Berlin. In 1871 and 1872, with regard to interpretation of Chopin's works, he had a series of consultations with Karol Mikuli. Finally, in Weimar, in 1878, he mastered his playing under Franz Liszt. On 6 October 1875 he made a spectacular debut in Warsaw. After this performance a critic wrote: "What a master! What tone! What a powerful and velvet touch at the same time! What octaves and technical skills does he have!". He spent all his life in Warsaw leaving for tours of Poland, Germany, Austria and Russia. In 1888, in St. Petersburg Anton Rubinstein was so enchanted by his performance, that he invited Michałowski to the Conservatory to show the professors and students how to interpret Chopin's works properly. He possessed absolute pitch, owing to which he could determine position fingering of the piece played by a student. Due to his exceptional memory, his repertoire included all works by Chopin. He was also a chamber musician, playing duos with the violinist Stanisław Barcewicz, and trios with Barcewicz and the cellist Aleksander Wierzbiłłowicz. In 1874 he settled in Warsaw and took up teaching, at first privately, and from 1891 as a professor of the higher piano classes at the Apolinary Katski Institute of Music, and from 1919 he taught at The Fryderyk Chopin Music School of The Warsaw Music Society. He often performed in Warsaw, and started Chopin recitals to celebrate the composer's death anniversaries on 17 October. His compositional output comprise 36 opuses and several unnumbered piano pieces (mazurkas, gavottes, preludes, waltzes, bagatelles, romances etc.), transcriptions of the Chopin Waltz in D flat major, No 1, Op. 64 and the Chopin Impromptu in A flat major, Op. 29, and the transcription of Perpetuum mobile by Weber. He edited for publication several dozen pieces by various composers, which were to be used for concert and educational purposes. His pupils included Stefania Allina, Wiktor Chrapowicki, Zofia Buckiewiczowa, Róża Etkin, Janina Familier-Hepner, Edwarda Chojnacka, Zofia Frankiewicz, Stefania Niekrasz, Bolesław Kon, Wanda Landowska, Jerzy Lefeld, Mischa Levitzki, Stanisław Nawrocki, Henryk Pachulski, Ludomir Różycki, Piotr Rytel, Henryk Schulz-Evler, Vladimir Sofronicki, Władysław Szpilman, Józef Śmidowicz, Juliusz Wolfsohn, Bolesław Woytowicz, Aleksander Zakin, Jerzy Żurawlew.

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