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Gieseking

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Biography

Walter Wilhelm Gieseking (November 5, 1895 – October 26, 1956) was a French-German pianist and composer.

Born in Lyon in France, Gieseking was largely self-taught as a pianist until he studied at the conservatorium in Hanover. He studied with Karl Leimer, whom he had written a book with. He remained in Germany during World War II, and also performed sometimes in Nazi-occupied France; these things led to accusations of collaboration with the Nazi Party. A number of his concerts, particularly in the United States, had to be cancelled because of protests against him. Eventually he was cleared of any wrongdoing by an Allied court. He died in London during a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 15 for HMV. He had completed the first three movements and, the following day, was due to record the fourth. He died during the night. HMV released the unfinished recording.

Gieseking had a very wide repertoire, ranging from the core works by Ludwig van Beethoven through to more modern works by the likes of Ferruccio Busoni, Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg, and the lesser-known Italian Goffredo Petrassi. He gave the premiere of the Piano Concerto by Hans Pfitzner in 1923. Today, though, he is primarily remembered as one of the great interpreters of Mozart, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel.

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