Alexis Weissenberg

Alexis Sigismond Weissenberg (Bulgarian: Алексис Сигизмунд Вайсенберг) (26 July 1929 – 8 January 2012) was a Bulgarian-born French pianist.[1][2]

Flickr - Government Press Office (GPO) - Prodigy Pianist Sigi Weissenberg
Alexis Weissenberg, 1947

Early life and career

Born into a Jewish family in Sofia, Bulgaria, Weissenberg began taking piano lessons at the age of three from Pancho Vladigerov, a Bulgarian composer. He gave his first public performance at the age of eight.

In 1941, he and his mother tried to escape from German-occupied Bulgaria for Turkey, but were caught and imprisoned in a makeshift concentration camp in Bulgaria for three months. A German guard – who had enjoyed hearing Alexis play Schubert on the accordion – hurriedly took him and his mother to the train station, throwing the accordion to him through the window and told them, "Good luck". They safely arrived in Istanbul a day later.[3]

In 1945, they emigrated to Palestine, where Weissenberg studied under Leo Kestenberg and performed Beethoven with the Israel Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. In 1946, Weissenberg went to the Juilliard School to study with Olga Samaroff. He also studied with Artur Schnabel and Wanda Landowska.

In 1947, Weissenberg made his New York debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and George Szell in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 and with Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy, with which Weissenberg won the Leventritt Competition. Between 1957 and 1965, he took an extended sabbatical for the purpose of studying and teaching. Weissenberg resumed his career in 1966 with a recital in Paris. Later that year he played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Berlin conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who praised him as "one of the best pianists of our time".

Weissenberg gave piano master classes all over the world. With his Piano Master Class in Engelberg (Switzerland), he had as students many pianists of the new generation: Kirill Gerstein, Simon Mulligan, Mehmet Okonsar [1], Nazzareno Carusi, Andrey Ponochevny, Loris Karpell, and Roberto Carnevale among them. He composed piano music and a musical, Nostalgie, that was premiered at the State Theatre of Darmstadt on 17 October 1992.

Weissenberg died on 8 January 2012 at the age of 82 in Lugano, Switzerland after suffering from Parkinson's Disease.[4] He was survived by three children, David, Cristina and Maria.[5]

Recorded works

Bryce Morrison, in "Gramophone", described his early 1970s recording of the Liszt Sonata in B minor as one of the most exciting and also lyrical renditions of the work. His readings of Schumann, Rachmaninoff, and many works by Frédéric Chopin (including his complete works for piano and orchestra, Piano Sonatas No. 2 & 3, nocturnes, and waltzes) are also very well known.

Among his other notable interpretations were those of Johannes Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1, with Carlo Maria Giulini and Riccardo Muti, ("Les Introuvables d'Alexis Weissenberg", 2004), Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as his Piano Concerto No. 3 with Georges Prêtre and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Seiji Ozawa with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (also with Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France).

His 1965 film recording of Stravinsky's Three Movements from Petrushka (directed by Åke Falck) was also highly praised. When Karajan watched the movie, he immediately invited Weissenberg to participate in a filmed performance of the Tchaikovsky First Concerto, replacing Sviatoslav Richter.[6]

Selected discography


  • Bach: Goldberg Variations
  • Bach: Jesu bleibet meine Freude (Choral - aus: Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147), Orfeo (CD)
  • Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 2 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra RCA
  • Beethoven: The Five Piano Concertos with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra EMI (3 CDs)
  • Beethoven: Piano Sonatas: "Pathétique, Moonlight and Appassionata"
  • Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 (two recordings, with Carlo Maria Giulini and Riccardo Muti, EMI
  • Brahms: Rhapsodie g-Moll op. 79 Nr. 2, Orfeo (CD)
  • Brahms: Étude F-Dur, Orfeo (CD)
  • Brahms: Sonatas for violin & piano Nos. 1–3, with Anne-Sophie Mutter. EMI (CD)
  • Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3, Ballade No. 4, Nocturnes. SWR Music (CD)
  • Chopin: Works for piano and orchestra. EMI (2 CDs)
  • Chopin: The Nocturnes. EMI
  • Chopin: Piano Sonata Nos. 2 and 3 EMI
  • Debussy: Estampes, Suite Bergamasque, Children's Corner, L'Isle Joyeuse, etc. on Deutsche Grammophon
  • Debussy: Piano works. Deutsche Grammophon (CD)
  • Franck: Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra (with Herbert von Karajan and The Berlin Philharmonic)
  • Haydn: Sonatas Hob.XVI/20,37 & 52, RCA (LP)
  • Liszt: Piano sonata in B minor. Einsatz Records, Japan
  • Liszt: Valse impromptu A-Dur, Orfeo (CD)
  • Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 21 with Giulini and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra
  • Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Orfeo (CD)
  • Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, EMI
  • Prokofiev: Piano concerto No.3 – Seiji Ozawa, Orchestre de Paris
  • Rachmaninoff: Complete Preludes. RCA (CD)
  • Rachmaninoff: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 2. Deutsche Grammophon (CD)
  • Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 1972)
  • Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 (three different recordings, with Georges Pretre, Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein)
  • Ravel: Piano concerto – Seiji Ozawa, Orchestre de Paris
  • Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin, Orfeo (CD)
  • Scarlatti: Sonatas (A selection of 15) on Deutsche Grammophon
  • Schumann: Fantasie, op. 17. Orfeo (CD)
  • Schumann: "Carnaval" op.9, "Kinderszenen", Op. 15 (Toshiba-EMI)


  • Alexis Weissenberg DVD: Classic Archive 2008 – Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev, Stravinsky.
  • YouTube: Alexander Scriabin, Nocturne for the Left Hand, Opus 9, No. 2, Alexis Weissenberg (


  • Gustl Breuer/Henno Lohmeyer (Hrsg.): »Alexis Weissenberg. Ein kaleidoskopisches Porträt«. Rembrandt Verlag, Berlin 1977.
  • Lettre d'Alexis Weissenberg à Bernard Gavoty, 1966
  • Weissenberg – Drei Interviews – 2012, Sofia


  1. ^ "Alexis Weissenberg, Pianist of Fire and Ice, Dies at 82". The New York Times. January 9, 2012.
  2. ^ "Alexis Weissenberg". The Daily Telegraph. January 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "Alexis Weissenberg obituary". Los Angeles Times. 2012-01-10. Retrieved 2012-01-10.
  4. ^ Margalit Fox (2012-01-09). "Alexis Weissenberg, Pianist of Fire and Ice, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-11-14.
  5. ^ Barry Millington (2012-01-12). "Alexis Weissenberg obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
  6. ^ Sarah Kirkup (2012-01-10). "Pianist Alexis Weissenberg has died". Gramophone. Retrieved 2015-01-09.

External links

Anna Gourari

Anna Semyonovna Gourari (Russian Анна Семёновна Гурарий, born in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia) is a classical concert pianist.

She received her first piano education at the age of five from her parents, professors at Kazan Academy of Music. In 1979 she performed her first public concert. From that year onwards she studied at further renowned piano schools and with famous piano tutors. In 1990 she relocated together with her parents to Germany in order to study at the Hochschule für Musik with Ludwig Hoffmann in Munich.

Anna Gourari quickly gained renown by winning important competitions:

1986 1st prize at the Kabalevsky competition in Russia

1989 1st prize at the First International Chopin competition in Göttingen.

1994 1st prize at the First International Clara-Schumann-Klavierconcours in Düsseldorf. Jury: Martha Argerich, Alexis Weissenberg, Nelson Freire, Vladimir Ashkenazy a.o.This last prize marked the beginning of her international acceptance. As of that year, Gourari has played a significant role on the international concert scene. She often performs together with leading orchestras under conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, etc.

In 2001 she played a star role in Werner Herzog's movie Invincible.

Gourari is regarded as unconventional; her playing involves a mystical approach, but is most notably very accurate.

2007 she made six reportages about Moscow's current art and society for "Deutsche Welle TV".

2009 Album of Johannes Brahms: The Late Piano Pieces, opp. 116–119

2010 Album of Mazurkas by Chopin: The Mazurka Diary

Anna Gourari has a daughter and lives with her family in Munich.

Culture of Bulgaria

A number of ancient civilizations, including the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, East and West Slavs, Varangians and the Bulgars have left their mark on the culture, history and heritage of Bulgaria. Due to this great variety of influences, Bulgaria has adopted many unusual traditions including shaking with the left hand. Thracian artifacts include numerous tombs and golden treasures, while ancient Bulgars have left traces of their heritage in music and early architecture. Thracian rituals such as the Zarezan, Kukeri and Martenitza are to this day kept alive in the modern Bulgarian culture.

The oldest treasure of worked gold in the world, dating back to the 5th millennium BC, comes from the site of the Varna Necropolis.

Bulgaria functioned as the hub of Slavic Europe during much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable literary and cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world by means of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. Bulgaria also gave the world the Cyrillic script, the second most widely used alphabet in the world, which originated in these two schools in the tenth century AD.

Bulgaria's contribution to humanity continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with individuals such as John Atanasoff — a United States citizen of Bulgarian and British descent, regarded as the father of the digital computer. A number of noted opera-singers (Nicolai Ghiaurov, Boris Christoff, Raina Kabaivanska, Ghena Dimitrova, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Vesselina Kasarova), pianist Alexis Weissenberg, and successful artists (Christo, Pascin, Vladimir Dimitrov) popularized the culture of Bulgaria abroad.

François Weigel

François Weigel (born 1964, Trier, Germany) is a French pianist, conductor and composer.

Leventritt Competition

The Leventritt Competition was a highly prestigious international competition for classical pianists and violinists. It was founded in 1939 by the Edgar M. Leventritt Foundation Inc. of Cold Spring, New York, in memory of jurist Edgar M. Leventritt.

More recently, the Cliburn contest in Fort Worth, Texas, has attracted more publicity. By contrast, the now discontinued Leventritt Competition, held in New York City, did not court popularity but set higher standards and produced more outstanding musicians, including Van Cliburn himself. The Leventritt award was sparingly given, and there was no award presented if the judges felt the required standard was not achieved.

List of Bulgarian musicians and singers

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List of South-East European Jews

Many of the Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition settled in the Ottoman Empire, leaving behind, at the wake of Empire, large Sephardic communities in South-East Europe: mainly in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

Maria Perrotta

Maria Perrotta (born in Cosenza in 1974) is an Italian classical pianist.

Perrotta came to the limelight in 2012, when she performed J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations during her ninth month of pregnancy. An ambulance was stationed outside the theatre in case the artist went into labour during the recital. Very few women in history had given a concert this far into their pregnancy; one of them being Clara Schumann.

The live performance, published on CD by Decca, received rave reviews: "A perfect blend of the lush pianism of Alexis Weissenberg and the laser-like focus of Glenn Gould." (Libero). "If she stays on this path, Maria Perrotta seems destined to become the Italian Rosalyn Tureck." (Corriere della Sera).

In 2013 Decca released a CD of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Opp. 109, 110 and 111 played live by Maria Perrotta. The recording was acclaimed in leading musical magazines, including Gramophone, and in major newspapers: "Where Pollini is fast and formalistic, Perrotta is analytical and expressive, but, like Pollini, always maintains a sense of formal unity.".A child prodigy, she made her debut with a symphony orchestra at the age of 11 performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1. She has won top prizes in several international competitions, including the triennial International Piano Competition J. S. Bach, and has broadcast on Sky TV and on German and Italian radio.

Maria Perrotta is married to the Italian baritone Lucio Prete, with whom she has two daughters.

Michel Block

Michel Block (January 12, 1937, Antwerp–March 4, 2003, Bloomington, Indiana) was born of French parents in Antwerp, Belgium. He was a renowned pianist and winner of the 1962 Leventritt Competition. As a child, he moved with his parents to Mexico, where his grandfather had settled in 1870. Block studied piano in that country and later at the Juilliard School in New York City.

In one of the most famous of all competition incidents, Block won the Arthur Rubinstein Prize in Warsaw at the 1960 International Chopin Piano Competition. As a contestant in that year's competition, he was only placed eleventh. Outraged with this result, Arthur Rubinstein created a special prize bearing his name on the spot, which carried with it the money corresponding to the second prize, and awarded it to Block. Two years later, Michel Block won the Leventritt Competition in New York, adding his name to the illustrious list of winners, among which Alexis Weissenberg, Van Cliburn, Eugene Istomin, etc.

Like most pianists of renown, Block appeared with the great orchestras and conductors in the United States and in Europe. Among them were the Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam; and among the conductors, Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Riccardo Muti, and Bernard Haitink.

In 1978, Block joined the music faculty of what is now known as the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington, and ceased pursuing his career as a pianist. In later years, he performed only rarely in public; when he did, his recitals were eagerly anticipated events. In 1996, The Pro Piano New York Recital Series was extremely honored to present Michel Block in New York for the first time in nearly fifteen years.

His playing was characterized by a rich singing tone, lyrical phrasing, transparent voicing, and wonderful dynamic control. Now widely considered to be one of the great pianists of the 20th century, and a favorite among cognoscenti, his peers and the public alike continue to regard him as a pianist's pianist. In 1997, Block retired from teaching and lived a quiet, uneventful, and happy life.

Block made numerous recordings (many of which are now out of print) for major labels, including EMI, Pathé Marconi, Pro-Piano and Deutsche Grammophon. He recorded music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, J.S. Bach, Franz Schubert, Enrique Granados, Alexander Scriabin, and Isaac Albéniz (including his celebrated disc of the complete Iberia (Albéniz)).

Michel Glotz

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Michel Sogny

Michel Sogny is a pianist, composer and doctor of philosophy who developed a new approach to teaching the piano. His method has enabled many students of all ages to enjoy practicing this instrument, as piano playing is generally considered to be unattainable if not taught during childhoodHe first began teaching in his own school in 1974, which became a very popular place for many well known artists : Isabelle Aubret, Annie Cordy, Marie-Paule Belle, Alice Dona, Pierre Douglas, Françoise Hardy, Jeane Manson, Henri Salvador, William Sheller, Sylvie Joly, Sempé. His innovative and creative methods has been acclaimed by international media and eminent personalities in classical music : France Clidat, Aldo Ciccolini, Paul Badura Skoda, Alexis Weissenberg et Gyorgy Cziffra.Many of his literary and musical works have been published by French publishing companies. Michel Sogny created in 2000 his own foundation SOS Talents to support gifted young pianists, and still devotes efforts to developing their talent throughout his method.

SOS Talents Foundation organizes several gala concerts and festivals in Europe, which are broadcast live on TV and radio channels.

Nazzareno Carusi

Nazzareno Carusi (born November 9, 1968, in Celano, Abruzzo) is an Italian pianist. He studied the Piano under Lucia Passaglia, Alexis Weissenberg and Victor Merzhanov. He studied also the Chamber music under Adriano Vendramelli, and received advice from Isaac Stern.

Pancho Vladigerov

Pancho Haralanov Vladigerov [ˈpantʃo xaraˈɫaŋov vɫadiˈɡɛr̩ov] (or Wladigeroff, or Wladigerow, or Vladiguerov, or Vladigueroff; Bulgarian: Панчо Хараланов Владигеров; 13 March 1899 – 8 September 1978) was a Bulgarian composer, pedagogue, and pianist.

Vladigerov is arguably the most influential Bulgarian composer of all time. He was one of the first to successfully combine idioms of Bulgarian folk music and the classical music. Part of the so-called Second Generation Bulgarian Composers, he was among the founding members of the Bulgarian Contemporary Music Society (1933), which later became the Union of Bulgarian Composers. Vladigerov marked the beginning of a number of genres in Bulgarian music, including the violin sonata and the piano trio. He was also a very respected pedagogue; his students include practically all notable Bulgarian composers of the next generation, such as Alexander Raichev, Alexander Yossifov, Stefan Remenkov, and many others, as well as the pianist Alexis Weissenberg.

Prelude in E-flat major (Rachmaninoff)

The Prelude in E-flat Major, Op. 23, No. 6 is a 1903 composition by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is part of Rachmaninoff's Ten Preludes, Op. 23.

RCA Red Seal Records

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Rafael Orozco (pianist)

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His large repertoire included works by Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Manuel de Falla, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Isaac Albéniz. He gave recitals on five continents and participated as soloist with the world's great orchestras, including Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, and London. Orozco also participated in music festivals at Osaka, Praga, Berlin, Santander, Edimburg, Spoleto, and Aldeburgh.

Orozco's playing was used in Ken Russell's 1970 film The Music Lovers, based on the life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

In 1986, Córdoba awarded Orozco the Gold Medal of the city and the title of Hijo Predilecto (Favourite Son).Orozco died of AIDS in 1996. The Conservatorio Superior de Música Rafael Orozco in Córdoba is named in his honour.

Robert DeGaetano

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Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

The Tenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition took place in Fort Worth, Texas from May 23 to June 8, 1997. Jon Nakamatsu won the competition, while Yakov Kasman and Aviram Reichert were awarded the Silver and Bronze medals.William Bolcom composed his Nine Bagatelles for the competition.

Tilman Hoppstock

Tilman Hoppstock (born 1961) is a classical guitarist, cellist and musicologist from Germany.


Weissenberg or Weißenberg may refer to:

Weißenberg, a town in Saxony, Germany

the scene of the Battle of White Mountain

Weißenberg (Frankenweide), a hill in Rhineland-Pfalz, Germany

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