Book Review: Ignaz Friedman, Romantic Master Pianist -Repost

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Donald Isler
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Book Review: Ignaz Friedman, Romantic Master Pianist -Repost

Post by Donald Isler » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:18 pm

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Donald Isler Post subject: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:14 pm



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Ignaz Friedman – Romantic Master Pianist
By Allan Evans
Indiana University Press, 2009

The great piano pedagogue, Theodor Leschetizky (1830-1915), student of Beethoven’s student, Carl Czerny, produced an enormous number of distinguished pianists, from Paderewski, one of the oldest, to Horszowski, one of the youngest, who played for the last time in New York in 1991. Two of his most extraordinary students were both born in 1882, and if one had been in Berlin on the evening of December 11, 1932, one would have had to choose which one to hear.

In one hall that evening, Artur Schnabel (1882-1951) was performing the Brahms D Minor Concerto under the baton of Bruno Walter. Schnabel, one of the deepest thinkers who ever played the piano, who was capable of every mood from boisterous good cheer to slower than life profundity, is well remembered today because of his many recordings, students and writings. His recordings are rarely out of print for more than about five minutes.

In the other hall, that December evening, was another pianist who, except for aficionados of romantic pianism who have never ceased to venerate him, is far less remembered today. Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948) spent his last years in Australia, far from what was then the center of the musical world, and left fewer recordings than Schnabel, at least partly because his wife felt that his later performances were not his best, and destroyed many of them after his death. Also, the sound of many of them is simply not as clear as other recordings of the same era.

But Friedman was one of the very great ones, and one of the most original musical personalities of the important romantic pianists. Though some of his playing can be seen as willful, he had a huge technique (Horowitz admired him) and his playing had boundless vitality, always connected to a human heart. One is really missing something if one has never heard his performance of Weber’s Introduction To the Dance, where he throws out and suspends an incredibly long line in the Introduction (all but defying musical gravity) and then plays the Dance with unbelievable energy and enthusiasm. Similar high spirits prevail in his unique interpretation of the Rubinstein Valse Caprice.

One should not fail to mention his incredibly expressive performance of the big E-Flat Nocturne of Chopin, which I once heard the critic Harold C. Schonberg use, in a lecture, to demonstrate the ideal of romantic piano playing. And, finally, he (or she) who can listen to Friedman’s recordings of the Chopin Mazurkas and not have a visceral reaction should probably be checked for a pulse.

Allan Evans, the founder of the Arbiter record label, known for its rare recordings of distinguished musicians of the past, worked on this newly released Friedman biography for close to 30 years, and has made an enormous contribution to our knowledge of this artist.

There is, of course, the story of Friedman’s life (he was born in Cracow, in the same neighborhood as Josef Hofmann), the child prodigy son of a musician whose travels took the family (still in the 1880’s) as far as Hungary, Greece and the United States, to his career, which took him to all but a few parts of the world on, what must have been, in those days, long and very tiring trips, to his last years in Australia. Like all European Jews in the late 1930’s, Friedman, who had lived in Germany and had a home in Italy, needed to find a new home. He hoped to come to America, but was unable to obtain a job, and permission to come here. He went to Australia in 1940 when the piano team of Vronsky and Babin cancelled a tour, and spent the rest of his life based there.

But there is still much more to this book. It also includes a complete list of Friedman’s repertoire, recordings, and detailed interviews, conducted in the 1980’s, with some of his students, a few of whom, wrote down what he told them about certain works in great detail. Indeed, I would have been fascinated to compare what they said with what my teacher, Bruce Hungerford, would have written about his lessons with Friedman. But Hungerford had died already in 1977.

Another bonus in this book is a shorter biography of Ignace Tiegermann (1893-1968), a student of both Leschetizky and Friedman, who was almost totally forgotten till Allan Evans found, and released some of his recordings. Tiegermann, a wonderful, brilliant pianist, and, like Friedman, a Polish Jew, was sent to Egypt as a young man, for his health, and spent the rest of his life there, establishing his own conservatory and becoming an influential figure in musical life there.

This book is a must read, above all, for those interested in Ignaz Friedman, and for those interested in the musical world of his time.

Donald Isler

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John F Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:39 pm



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Location: New York, NY Ignaz Friedman certainly does deserve to be remembered. I remembered him in the Chopin Nocturnes thread recently, and his 78s of Chopin's Mazurkas takes those dances out of the salon into the countryside - with a rubato all his own, showing the originality Donald speaks of:



His Mendelssohn could hardly be more different. He recorded a number of the Songs Without Words with a particularly singing tone in the melodic line, and the Scherzo op. 16/2 is lighter than air - the 1920s recording can hardly catch it all:


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Lance Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:11 pm


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Location: Binghamton, New York Thank you for a fine review, Donald. I've ordered a copy. Who says CMG doesn't sell CDs and books because of our site? Friedman is my kind of pianist ... one of the greats from the "Golden Age."

There is also a new book forthcoming on Hans von Bülow that looks like it will be interesting reading.

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stenka razin Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:32 pm


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Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia Lance wrote:
Thank you for a fine review, Donald. I've ordered a copy. Who says CMG doesn't sell CDs and books because of our site? Friedman is my kind of pianist ... one of the greats from the "Golden Age."

There is also a new book forthcoming on Hans von Bülow that looks like it will be interesting reading.



Lance, you better believe that this great forum of CMGers does sell lots of CDs and some books, too, mate.

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Lance Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:35 pm


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Location: Binghamton, New York ABSOLUTELY! Too bad we can't get our "cut" for operating expenses! But we don't want to advtise on CMG like other forums.

stenka razin wrote:
Lance wrote:
Thank you for a fine review, Donald. I've ordered a copy. Who says CMG doesn't sell CDs and books because of our site? Friedman is my kind of pianist ... one of the greats from the "Golden Age."

There is also a new book forthcoming on Hans von Bülow that looks like it will be interesting reading.



Lance, you better believe that this great forum of CMGers does sell lots of CDs and some books, too, mate.

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Chalkperson Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:03 pm


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Location: New York City Lance wrote:
There is also a new book forthcoming on Hans von Bülow that looks like it will be interesting reading.

Was he related to the guy who killed his wife, that the dreaded Alan Dershowitz got off the hook...

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Werner Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:42 pm


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Location: Irvington, NY I have never heard of such a connection, Chalkie - as you probably know, the Bülow Lance menationed was an eminent German pianist-conductor in the late 19th century, while the one you mention came along much later, and in Rhode Island, I believe. I remember the scandal of that case, as you evidently do, too.

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Chalkperson Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:41 pm


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Location: New York City I have all Friedman's Solo Recordings, a 4CD Set on Pearl, I bought them a long time ago, wonderful Pianist...

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Lance Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:43 am


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Location: Binghamton, New York Like you, Chalkie, I bought that Pearl set [2000, 4 CDs] years ago. Allan Evans wrote the booklet notes. I note there is a comment therein: "Evans' biography of Friedman will be completed in early 1990." He's only almost 20 years longer than he anticipated!

The Pearl transfers on the four-CD set do NOT offer great quality in the restorative procedures (no one is credited for these restorations). I would strongly recommend to "Golden Age" piano enthusiasts to invest in the FIVE Naxos Historical CDs, which include the Grieg Piano Concerto and the Beethoven "Kreutzer" with violinist Bronislaw Huberman . These appear independently (not boxed as five CDs) on Naxos 8.110864, 8.110686, 8.110690, 8.110736, and 8.11114, all restored by Ward Marston. Like the Pearl set, Friedman also speaks.

Chalkperson wrote:
I have all Friedman's Solo Recordings, a 4CD Set on Pearl, I bought them a long time ago, wonderful Pianist...

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Chalkperson Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:26 am


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Location: New York City Quotations from Hans Von Bulow, they do appear to be descendants of the same Family...

Notoriously tactless, Bülow alienated many musicians with whom he worked. He was dismissed from his Zürich job for this reason, but at the same time he was beginning to win renown for his ability to conduct new and complex works without a score. In 1851 he became a student of Liszt, marrying Liszt's daughter Cosima in 1857. They had two daughters: Daniela, born in 1860 and Blandine, born in 1863.


Quote:
"A tenor is not a man but a disease".


Quote:
To a trombonist: "Your tone sounds like roast-beef gravy running through a sewer".


Quote:
Upon being awarded a laurel wreath: "I am not a vegetarian".


Quote:
"Always conduct with the score in your head, not your head in the score".


Quote:
"Bach is the Old Testament and Beethoven the New Testament of music".


Quote:
"In the beginning was rhythm".

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Werner Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:53 am


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Location: Irvington, NY He was certainly quotable!

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Lance Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:10 pm


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Location: Binghamton, New York My copy arrived today. Just thumbing through, it looks like a wonderful read. I am anxious to start at the beginning. It's about time a biography has come forth about Ignaz Friedman and thanks to Allan Evans for making it happen.

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romeor Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:49 pm



Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:42 am
Posts: 1 Lance wrote:
My copy arrived today. Just thumbing through, it looks like a wonderful read. I am anxious to start at the beginning. It's about time a biography has come forth about Ignaz Friedman and thanks to Allan Evans for making it happen.

I must say... It was a wonderful read! I thoroughly enjoyed it


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Lance Post subject: Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman - Romantic Master PianistPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:56 pm


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Location: Binghamton, New York Romeor ... WELCOME TO CMG! Glad you made it and am pleased we have other pianophiles interested in historical pianists on our site! We hope you enjoy CMG and trust you will be a frequent visitor!

romeor wrote:
Lance wrote:
My copy arrived today. Just thumbing through, it looks like a wonderful read. I am anxious to start at the beginning. It's about time a biography has come forth about Ignaz Friedman and thanks to Allan Evans for making it happen.

I must say... It was a wonderful read! I thoroughly enjoyed it


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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]






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Donald Isler

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Re: Book Review: Ignaz Friedman, Romantic Master Pianist -Re

Post by Donald Isler » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:29 pm

Since this article is no longer posted on CMG I decided to repost it not because of my brilliant writing (?) but because of circumstances which have come to light just in the last few days.

When I wrote this first review about Allan Evans' terrific book on Ignaz Friedman I had no idea that, four years later, I would discover that Friedman was a relative. It turns out that Friedman's great-grandmother and my grandfather Isler's great-grandmother were sisters. So Friedman was my third cousin, twice removed.

Does this mean, or change anything? No. But, somehow, it delights me to be related to one of the really great pianists.

There are some ironies in this.

Friedman came from Krakow, like my grandfather's family, and both lived in Berlin till Hitler made it necessary to leave. I understand that my grandfather was a passionate music-lover and very likely went to Friedman's concerts there. Too bad he didn't know he was listening to a cousin!

It also would have been nice if Dad, and Bruce Hungerford, who was a Friedman student, and my teacher, had known about this connection.

Anyway, I just thought that the above might amuse my CMG friends.
Donald Isler

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