Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Alexis Weissenberg (born July 26, 1929), a Bulgarian-born French pianist, performs Robert Schumann's Arabesque, op. 18.
Born into a Jewish family in Sofia, Weissenberg began taking piano lessons at the age of three from Pancho Vladigerov. He gave his first public performance at the age of eight. After escaping to what was then Palestine in 1945, where he studied under Leo Kestenberg, he went to the Juilliard School in 1946 to study with Olga Samaroff. He also consulted Artur Schnabel and Wanda Landowska.
In 1947 he made his New York debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of George Szell playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. Between 1957 and 1966 he took an extended sabbatical for the purpose of studying and teaching.
He resumed his career in 1966 by giving a recital in Paris; later that year he played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Berlin conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who praised him as "one of the best pianists of our time."
I wonder if von Karajan made that appraisal after hearing Weissenberg play or simply upon reading Weissenberg's resume?