“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
Plato

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Brahms Op. 117, No. 1, by Carl Friedberg

Carl Friedberg 1872-1955


     Carl Friedberg was one of the most successful and distinguished pianists who emerged from the studio of Clara Schumann. He was one of the early piano professors at what would later become the Juilliard School. From his studio came some of the biggest names of the first part of the 20th century: Malcom Frager, Bruce Hungerford, William Masselos and Elly Ney. His professional debut was with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Gustav Mahler. Not so bad.
     Now here's where I sat up and took notice when reading his bio. In 1893 he played an all Brahms program with the composer in the audience. Apparently, Brahms admired his playing and coached him in private on most of his pieces. Coached by Brahms! So, when we listen to his playing, we may in fact be coming as close as we can to hearing Brahms himself. Maybe. It's a big responsibility to pile onto Friedberg's hands. Still, we listen to his one commercial recording—Friedberg apparently disliked recorded piano sound—and it gives us food for thought. The eighty-one-year-old pianist plays here the first of the Opus 117 Intermezzos: Carl Friedberg.


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