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Biography

  • Born

    5 July 1914

  • Born In

    Budapest, Hungary

  • Died

    10 April 1995 (aged 80)

Annie Fischer (July 5, 1914 - April 10, 1995) was a Hungarian classical pianist.

Fischer was born in Budapest, and studied in that city at the Franz Liszt Academy. In 1933 she won the International Liszt Competition in her native city. Throughout her career she played mainly in Europe and Australia, but was seldom heard in the United States until late in her lifetime, having concertized only twice across the Atlantic.

Fischer, who was Jewish, fled to Sweden at the outset of the Nazi invasion; she returned to Budapest in 1946. She died there in 1995.

She was married to critic and musicologist Aladar Toth (1898-1986); she is buried next to him in Budapest.

Her playing has been praised for its "characteristic intensity" and "effortless manner of phrasing" (David Hurwitz), as well as its technical power and spiritual depth. She was greatly admired by such contemporaries as Otto Klemperer and Sviatoslav Richter; Richter wrote that "Annie Fischer is a great artist imbued with a spirit of greatness and genuine profundity." The Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini praised the "childlike simplicity, immediacy and wonder" he found in her playing. Her interpretations of Mozart Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Schumann, as well as Hungarian composers like Béla Bartók continue to receive the highest praise from pianist and critics.

Fischer made significant studio recordings in the 1950s with Otto Klemperer and Wolfgang Sawallisch, but felt that any interpretation created in the absence of an audience would necessarily be artificially constricting, since no interpretation was ever "finished." Her legacy today thus includes many live concert recordings that have been released on CD and DVD (including a performance of Beethoven's "Emperor" concerto available on Youtube, and a Beethoven Third Concerto with Antal Doráti conducting). Her greatest legacy, however, is a studio-made integral set of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. She worked on this set for 15 years beginning in 1977. A self-critical perfectionist, she did not allow the set to be released in her lifetime but, since her death, it has been released on compact disc and widely praised.

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