Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Robert Casadesus - biography


Robert Casadesus, a French pianist and composer, was born on 7 April 1899 in Paris, and died on 19 September 1972 also in Paris. He came from a family of eminent musicians. He began his piano lessons with his aunt, Rose Casadesus. From 1912 he attended piano classes of Antonin Marmontel and of Louis Diémer, a pupil of Liszt, and composition classes of Xavier Leroux at the Paris Conservatory. There he won several prizes: the premier prix in piano playing and in harmony in 1913, as well as the Grand Prix Diémer in 1920. Casadesus debuted in 1917 with a recital at the Salle des Agriculteurs. In 1921 he was appointed as an assistant at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. The school had been founded after World War I by his uncle Francis, a violinist, conductor and composer, as a summer school for American students. At the end of 1921 he began his international career as a concert pianist. His playing enchanted Maurice Ravel and since then a strong working friendship developed between the artists. Casadesus became a leading interpreter of Ravel's music, and together they toured France, England and Spain. In 1955 Casadesus was awarded the Grand Prix de l'Academie du Disque for the complete recording of Ravel's piano music. As a soloist he gave concerts in Europe, Africa, both Americas, and in Japan. In 1935 he performed in New York with the New York Philharmonic with Arturo Toscanini conducting. He frequently played with his wife, Gaby, and with his son Jean, also a pianist. In 1934 he and Gaby performed his Concerto for two pianos Op. 17 in Warsaw. From 1940 to 1946 he lived in the United States, where he established the Fontainebleau School at Newport, Rhode Island. Next, he returned to France and took the position of Director of the American Conservatory. In 1949, he gave an all-Chopin recital at the Albert Hall in London, commemorating the centenary of the composer's death. Casadesus's repertoire embraced works by Bach, Beethoven (with Zino Francescatti he recorded Sonatas for violin and piano), Schubert, Chopin, and Brahms. He was an excellent interpreter of Mozart, he recorded Mozart's Piano Concertos. Most frequently, though, he performed works by Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, Fauré, Debussy, Roussel and Ravel. He was one of the most eminent pianists of the 20th century. He could combine brilliant virtuosity with elegant sound, clear phrasing and subtle lyricism. While interpreting, he was very careful about the logic of the musical form, and about adhering to the score. His many performances were recorded by such companies as Columbia and Sony. His compositional output is quite big and includes seven symphonies, eight concertos, piano pieces, and chamber pieces. Moreover he wrote cadences for piano concertos by Mozart and Beethoven. He was a distinguished teacher, and gave private lessons. His pupils included Monique Hass, Claude Helffer, Johannesen Grant.

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