Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pianist, Composer, and Pedagogue

Ferrucio Busoni:

an introduction

Ferruccio Busoni, emiment concert pianist, composer and one of the best-known pedagogues of this generation, died on July 27, 1924 of heart disease. He was professor in the State Academy of Arts.

Ferruccio Benvenuto Busoni was born at Empoli, near Florence, on April 1, 1866. His father was Ferdinando Busoni, a prominent clarinetist, and his mother, Anna Weiss, a pianist from whom he received his first instruction on the piano. When only eight years old Busoni made his first public appearance in Vienna, where he studied with Hans Schmitt, going later to Dr. Wilhelm Mayer in Graz, after which he made is first concert tour of Italy. On the completion of the tour he was elected a member of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, and the city of Florence struck a gold medal in his honor. In 1886 he took up his residence in Lepizig to devote himself to composition and while there composed a fantastic opera, a symphonic suite and smaller pieces. Two years later financial considerations drove him to accept a position as teacher in the Conservatory of Helsingfors, Finland, where he remained until 1890, when he took a similar position in the Moscow Conservatory after winning the Rubinstein prize for piano playing and also for composition with a konzertstuck for piano and orchestra, a sonata for piano and violin and arrangements of Bach's organ fugues.

In 1891 Busoni made his first visit to the United States as professor of piano at the New England Conservatory, returning to Europe two years later, making his home in Berlin, where he resided off and on until his death, making frequent concert tours and spending the season 1907-1908 in Vienna, where he succeeded Emil Sauer as teacher of the Meisterklasse at the Conservatory. In 1909-1911 he made highly successful tours of the United States and in 1913 went to Bologna as director of the Liceo and conductor of symphony concerts. The same year he was decorated with the cross of a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur, Rossini and Verdi being the only other Italians to have been so honored. During the war he resided in Zurich but returned to Berlin after the cessation of hostilities.

Busoni achieved fame in three phases of his profession, as a pianist, a pedagogue and as a composer. As a pianist he was an extraordinary technician and, though the charge was brought against him of sacrificing beauty of tone to volume, he always played with extraordinary fire, which he imparted to his pupils as well, many of them being among the foremost concert artists of the present time. His compositions cover practically the entire field of music from opera and symphony to incidental music. He also wrote treatises on musical subjects and made numerous transcriptions of compositions by Bach and edited the entire piano works of Liszt and Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavichord."

Source: Michael Sayers Great Pianists Web pages

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