Witold Małcużyński (1914-1977)
Witold Małcużyński was a famous Polish pianist who specialized in playing the music of Chopin. He studied piano with Margarite Long and Isidor Philipp. He received some coaching from the famous pianist Paderewski and competed in the Third International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Poland in 1937. He won third prize in that competition. Małcużyński’s piano playing had great passion and poetry.
Here are two recordings of him playing the Chopin Waltz in D Flat Major, Op. 70, No. 3, and the Chopin Waltz in c sharp minor Op. 64, No. 2. Enjoy!
Lili Kraus (1905-1986)
Lili Kraus was born in Budapest Hungary in 1903. She studied at the Franz Liszt Academy. At 17 years of age she studied at the Budapest Conservatory under Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók. She later studied piano with the famous pianist Artur Schnabel.
During the 1930s, Lili toured Europe, Japan, Australia, and South Africa. Lili and her family were captured by the Japanese and interned in separate concentration camps from June 1943 until August 1945. After the war Lili moved to New Zealand where she played, performed, and taught piano. She became a citizen of New Zealand and toured a lot and taught many students. From 1967-1983 Lili taught piano at the Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She then moved to Asheville, North Carolina and died in 1986.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer, pianist, and violinist. He is known today for his famous ‘Trout’ Quintet, Unfinished Symphony, piano sonatas, and his more than 600 lieder, or German Art Songs. Schubert was an extremely prolific composer during his short life (he lived to be 31 years old and died from Syphilis). Schubert was one of the pallbearers at Beethoven’s funeral in 1827. He died the following year.
Here are selections from Franz Schubert’s Valses Sentimentales op. 50 played by Lili Kraus. I hope that you enjoy this beautiful music.
Sir Anthony Hopkins (1937 – )
Sir Anthony Hopkins is a Welsh actor, director, producer and a composer. He started taking piano lessons when he was six years old. Hopkins worked hard at the piano. When he was 12 years old he began improvising on the piano with dissonant chords and began working on developing melodic lines which he would then write down on manuscript paper. In 1964 Hopkins was working as an actor at the Playhouse Theatre in Liverpool. He would often arrive early before everyone else in the morning when the cleaning ladies were there. There was an old piano in the theatre and he would sit down and improvise melodies. One day he came up with a waltz tune. Someone heard him and asked who wrote the tune. Hopkins said that he made it up. For years the piece was never premiered because Anthony Hopkins didn’t think the piece was good enough. In 2008 he scored the piece entitled “And The Waltz Goes On” for full orchestra. Hopkin’s wife Stella contacted violinist André Rieu and sent him the score. On July, 3rd, 2011 it got its premiere (50 years after its composition).
André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra
André Rieu is a Dutch violinist and conductor from Maastricht who is well known for his famous Johann Strauss Orchestra. He graduated from the Brussels Conservatory with a first prize in violin. While he was studying music at University, he performed Franz Lehár’s Gold and Silver Waltz. The audience reaction was wonderful and he decided to play more waltz music. in 1978 he created the Maastricht Salon Orchestra and played with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. in 1987 he formed the now famous Johann Strauss Orchestra as well as his own publishing company. The orchestra and Andre Rieu are very popular and regularly give sold out performances. André Rieu sets up the stage and the lighting before each concert and spends a lot of money making sure everything looks perfect. At some of his concerts they even serve real champagne in wine glasses to the audience members.
Here is a performance of André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra performing Anthony Hopkin’s “And the Waltz Goes On”.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer. He composed piano sonatas, waltzes,various other dances, symphonies, string trios, piano trios, quartets, quintets, and more than 600 German Art Songs (or lieder). Today Schubert is known for his ‘Trout’ Quintet, his chamber music, and his more than 600 songs.
In 1826 Schubert was at Mr. Kupelweiser’s wedding. He played a waltz but never wrote it down. The waltz was passed down by ear for several generations. In the 20th century Richard Strauss (a friend of a distant relative of Kupelweiser) was asked to transcribe the waltz. He wrote down the melody and harmonized it adding a few of his own harmonic touches to the music.
Here is the ‘Kupelweiser’ waltz played by a pianist from a youtube recording. I don’t know the name of the pianist who is playing the waltz.
Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934)
A Brazilian composer who is best known for the tangos that he wrote. Nazareth also wrote waltzes and polkas. He worked for a time as a pianist playing for silent films. Nazareth’s tangoes and other music is full of beautiful melodies and infectious dance rhythms. Ernesto Nazareth’s tangoes established him as one of the most influential Brazilian composers of the 20th century.
Confidencias means Confidences. The piece is melancholy. The title of the piece refers to lost opportunities in life. This particular piece is a hesitation waltz. I decided to post this piece because I want people to know about this composer (who I think is not as well known as he should be). I also think this piece is very beautiful.
The pianist on this recording is Iara Behs. She is one of the foremost pianists in Brazil. You can buy the recording of this piece and other pieces by Nazareth on Amazon.com. It is an excellent recording. I have a copy of this recording and I highly recommend it.