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Leopold Godowsky


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Godowsky ,born on 13 February 1870,was a famed pianist, composer, and teacher. He has been described as the “Pianist of Pianists”.

He became a naturalised American, but was born to Polish parents in Sozły, near Wilno, in what was then Russian territory but is now part of Lithuania. He considered himself of Polish heritage.

Godowsky had studied under Ernst Rudorff at the Berlin High School for Music,but left after three months. Otherwise, he was self-taught.

His career as a concert pianist, which eventually would take him to every continent except Australia, began at age ten.Godowsky made his debut in America on 7 December in Boston.

Later,moving to France to study with Liszt ( who unfortunately died a few days before Godowsky’s arrival there), he played for Tchaikovsky, and could count among his acquaintances Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, Amboise Thomas, Gabriel Fauré, Gabriel Pierné, Charles-Marie Widor and Leo Delibes.

He died of stomach cancer in New York on November 21, 1938.

As a composer, Godowsky has been best known for his paraphrases of piano pieces by other composers, which he enhanced with ingenious contrapuntal devices and rich chromatic harmonies. His most famous work in this genre is the 53 Studies on Chopin’s Etudes, in which he varies the already challenging originals by: introducing countermelodies.
He also transcribed for the piano a number of sonatas and partitas for solo violin and solo cello by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Piano Sonata, the Passacaglia, and Triakontameron are amongst other works of his that have become more well-known of recent times. The Passacaglia is based on a theme from Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony;it has acquired an undeserved reputation for difficulty.

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  • Taxes

    how could anyone in his right mind decide that the chopin études are too easy to play

    11 Aug 2012 Reply
  • emaskye


    11 May 2010 Reply

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