Born: February 16, 1896 - Kiev
Died: April 25, 1976 - New York, NY, USA
The noted Russian-born French pianist, Alexander Brailowsky, studied first with his father, a professional pianist; then continued his training at the Kiev Conservatory, graduating with a gold medal in 1911. Following advanced studies with Leschetizky in Vienna from 1911 to 1914, and Ferruccio Busoni in Zürich, he completed his training with Francis Planté in Paris.
In 1919 Alexander Brailowsky made his concert debut in Paris. In 1926 he became a naturalised French citizen. He specialised in the works of Frédéric Chopin, and achieved most of his fame between the two world wars. He gave the first complete Chopin cycle in history in Paris in 1924, using the composer’s own piano for part of the recital. He then went on to present a further thirty recital cycles of Chopin’s music in cities all over the world, including in Paris, Brussels, Zürich, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. He made a highly successful world tour; made his American debut at Aeolian Hall in New York in November 1924; made a coast-to-coast tour of the USA in 1936; first gave the Chopin cycle in America during the 1937-1938 season, in 6 recitals in New York. In 1960 he played the Chopin cycle again in New York (and/or Paris) and Brussels in honour of the 150th anniversary of Chopin's birth. Although his playing by now was past its best, but none-the-less, still delivered some superb nuances and an overall mastery. He died in New York aged 80, of complications brought on by pneumonia.
Alexander Brailowsky's first recordings were done in Berlin from 1928 to 1934 (78-rpm discs). In 1938 he recorded in London for HMV. Later discs were produced for RCA Victor and finally in the 1960's, for CBS. Besides his huge output of Chopin, he also included in his repertoire Sergei Rachmaninov, Camille Saint-Saëns, Franz Liszt, Debussy and others. Some critics have noted irregularities in Brailowsky's playing which they attribute to sloppiness and lack of practice, however his Chopin Waltzes are considered authoritative and have seldom been outdone since he recorded them in the 1960's.