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Charles Rosen

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Charles Rosen (born May 5, 1927) is an American pianist and music theorist.

Charles Rosen studied piano with Moriz Rosenthal, but in an interview published in the June 2007 edition of BBC Music Magazine, he cites Josef Hofmann, whom he says he heard every year from age three, as a greater influence. Rosen recalls having played for Leopold Godowsky at age seven; Godowsky asked Rosen what he would like to be when he grew up, and, to Godowsky’s amusement, Rosen answered, “I want to be a pianist like Josef Hofmann.” Rosen also names Arturo Toscanini as a great influence, particularly because of his concern with the continuity of inner voices.

As a virtuoso pianist Rosen has appeared in numerous recitals and orchestral engagements around the world. Although, in the interview, he claims to have little interest in performing music of Scriabin, Fauré, and similar very late tonal composers, he has recorded a number of 20th century works at the invitation of their composers, including works by Igor Stravinsky, Elliott Carter, and Pierre Boulez. His recordings also include earlier literature such as Debussy’s Études, Beethoven’s late sonatas and Diabelli Variations, and Bach’s Art of Fugue; in the interview, Rosen notes that he refuses to perform the last-named work complete in concert, expressing a belief that it was intended for home study and cannot be played as Bach would have intended except in solitude, for personal pleasure.

Rosen is also a musicologist and is the author of many distinguished books about music.

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