The Life You Give: Rubén González *1919

Rubén González was one of the last of Cuba's great Afro-Cuban piano players. Although he had played and recorded with the band led by Enrique Jorrín, the creator of the cha-cha, for a quarter of a century, he had retired from music by the mid-'80s. Things began to change when González recorded with the Afro-Cuban… Continue reading The Life You Give: Rubén González *1919

The Life You Give: Alicia de Larrocha *1923

Alicia de Larrocha's greatest contribution as a musician was her unrivaled advocacy of Spanish and Catalonian piano music. Her interpretations of the music of Albéniz, Granados, Falla, Mompou (a lifelong friend who dedicated several works to her), and Montsalvatge were universally described as brilliant, authentic, and masterful in tonal color, texture, and rhythm. She was… Continue reading The Life You Give: Alicia de Larrocha *1923

The Life You Give: Stevie Wonder *1950

Stevie Wonder, born Steveland Judkins or Steveland Morris, May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A., is the singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, a child prodigy who developed into one of the most creative musical figures of the late 20th century.Blind from birth and raised in inner-city Detroit, he was a skilled musician by age eight. Renamed… Continue reading The Life You Give: Stevie Wonder *1950

The Life You Give: Sergey Rachmaninoff *1873

Sergey Rachmaninoff, born Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff, on March 20 [April 1, New Style], 1873, in Oneg, near Semyonovo, Russia, is the composer who was the last great figure of the tradition of Russian Romanticism and a leading piano virtuoso of his time. He is especially known for his piano concerti and the piece for piano… Continue reading The Life You Give: Sergey Rachmaninoff *1873

The Life You Give: Sviatoslav Richter *1915

Sviatoslav Richter, born Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter, on March 7 [March 20, New Style], 1915, Zhitomir, Ukraine, Russian Empire [now Zhytomyr, Ukraine], is the pianist whose technical virtuosity combined with subtle introspection, made him one of the preeminent pianists of the 20th century. Though his repertoire was enormous, he was especially praised for his interpretations of… Continue reading The Life You Give: Sviatoslav Richter *1915

The Life You Give: Frédéric Chopin *1810

Frédéric Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, on March 1, 1810, in Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw, Duchy of Warsaw [now in Poland], was the composer and pianist of the Romantic period, best known for his solo pieces for piano and his piano concerti. Although he wrote little but piano works, many of them brief, Chopin ranks as… Continue reading The Life You Give: Frédéric Chopin *1810

The Virtuous Black XXI: Nina Simone

Nina Simone, born Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina, U.S.A., is the singer who created urgent emotional intensity by singing songs of love, protest, and Black empowerment in a dramatic style, with a rough-edged voice.A precocious child, Simone played piano and organ in girlhood. She became sensitive to racism when at… Continue reading The Virtuous Black XXI: Nina Simone

The Life You Give: Claudio Arrau *1903

Claudio Arrau, born February 6 1903, in Chillán, Chile, was one of the most-renowned pianists of the 20th century.Arrau’s father, an eye doctor, died when Arrau—the youngest of three children—was one year old. His mother supported the family by giving piano lessons and must have been gratified when her own son proved to be a… Continue reading The Life You Give: Claudio Arrau *1903

Martha Argerich — Early Recordings

A prodigy, Argerich was performing professionally by age eight. In 1955 she went to Europe, where her teachers included Friedrich Gulda and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. She won two prestigious competitions in 1957 at age 16: the Geneva International Music Competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition. In 1965 she won the Chopin Piano Competition… Continue reading Martha Argerich — Early Recordings

The Life You Give: Alfred Brendel *1931

Alfred Brendel, born January 5, 1931, in Wiesenberg, Czechoslovakia [now Loučná nad Desnou, Czech Republic], is a pianist and writer whose recordings and international concert appearances secured his reputation. He is best known for his interpretations of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music, recording several cycles of the composer’s piano sonatas and concertos.Brendel studied the piano with… Continue reading The Life You Give: Alfred Brendel *1931

The Life You Give: Ludwig van Beethoven *1770

Ludwig van Beethoven, born on December 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany, was a composer, and the predominant musical figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras.Widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived, Ludwig van Beethoven dominates a period of musical history as no one else before or since. Rooted in… Continue reading The Life You Give: Ludwig van Beethoven *1770