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Claudio Arrau

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Claudio Arrau León (February 6, 1903 – June 9, 1991) was a Chilean pianist of world fame for his deep interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning from the baroque to 20th-century composers. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.

Arrau recorded the complete piano music of Robert Schumann, and edited his works for publication, as well as all Beethoven piano sonatas in Urtext edition. He is also famous for his recordings of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, Schubert and Debussy, among others. He played with style and passion, with a prodigious technique. Many claimed that his rich, weighty tone lent his interpretations a distinctive voice, some saying it sounded thick and muddy and others praising its rounded tone, saying it sounded as though Arrau were almost playing the organ or “plowing” his “paws” into the “flexible” keyboard. According to American critic Harold Schonberg, Arrau always put “a decidedly romantic piano tone in his interpretations.” Although he often played with slower and more deliberate tempi from his middle age, Arrau had a reputation for being a fabulous virtuoso early in his career. According to Joseph Horowitz in his book Conversations With Arrau (1982), many critics feel his overall approach became less spontaneous and more reserved and introspective after the death of his mother, to whom he was extremely close.

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