György Cziffra *XI 5 1921 — The Life You Give

György Cziffra was one of the most celebrated and individual piano virtuosos of the postwar decades in Europe, especially noted for his powers of improvisation and as a Liszt pianist.He was born in a shantytown called Angels Court on the outskirts of Budapest to a family of gypsy musicians. The family was desperately poor, and… Continue reading György Cziffra *XI 5 1921 — The Life You Give

Keith Emerson *XI 2 1944 — The Life You Give

Throughout his career with the Nice, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and as a solo artist, Keith Emerson proved himself perhaps the greatest, most technically accomplished keyboardist in rock history. For all his reputation as an innovator and master of classically influenced rock, Emerson began his career playing R&B; the Nice got their first big break… Continue reading Keith Emerson *XI 2 1944 — The Life You Give

Conlon Nancarrow *X 27 1912 — The Life You Give

Conlon Nancarrow was an iconoclastic American composer who wrote in an utterly new way using new instrumental resources. While isolated from the main currents of music, he was virtually ignored by the public and his colleagues until the 1970s. In the 1980s composer György Ligeti said Nancarrow was writing "the best music by any living… Continue reading Conlon Nancarrow *X 27 1912 — The Life You Give

Emil Gilels *X 19 1916 — The Life You Give

Emil Gilels, born Emil Grigoryevich Gilels, Oct. 6 [Oct. 19, New Style], 1916, in Odessa, Ukraine, is the concert pianist admired for his superb technique, tonal control, and disciplined approach.Gilels began piano studies at age 6 and gave his first public concert in 1929 at age 13. In 1933 he gained top honours in the… Continue reading Emil Gilels *X 19 1916 — The Life You Give

Thelonious Monk *X 10 1917 — The Life You Give

Thelonious Monk, born Thelonious Sphere Monk, Oct. 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, N.C., U.S.A., is the pianist and composer who was among the first creators of modern jazz.As the pianist in the band at Minton’s Playhouse, a nightclub in New York City, in the early 1940s, Monk had great influence on the other musicians who… Continue reading Thelonious Monk *X 10 1917 — The Life You Give

Edwin Fischer *X 6 1886 — The Life You Give

Edwin Fischer was a Swiss pianist, conductor, and educator during the first half of the 20th century. He was known for his expressive interpretations of the piano music of J.S. Bach and Mozart.Fischer was born in 1886 in Basle, Switzerland, and he started playing the piano when he was four years old. Both of his… Continue reading Edwin Fischer *X 6 1886 — The Life You Give

Glenn Gould *IX 25 1932 — The Life You Give

Glenn Gould, born Glenn Herbert Gold, September 25, 1932, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is the pianist known for his contrapuntal clarity and brilliant, if often unorthodox, performances.Gould studied piano from the age of 3, began composing at 5, and entered the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto at 10, earning its associate degree in 1946.… Continue reading Glenn Gould *IX 25 1932 — The Life You Give

Ray Charles *IX 23 1930 — The Life You Give

Ray Charles, born Ray Charles Robinson, September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia, U.S.A., is the pianist, singer, composer, bandleader, and leading entertainer billed as “the Genius” who was credited with the early development of soul music, a style based on a melding of gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz music.When Charles was an infant his… Continue reading Ray Charles *IX 23 1930 — The Life You Give

Vladimir Horowitz *IX 18 1903 / The Life You Give

Vladimir Horowitz, born September 18 [Old Style], 1903, in Berdichev, Russia [now in Ukraine], is the virtuoso pianist in the Romantic tradition who was celebrated for his flawless technique and an almost orchestral quality of tone. Horowitz’s performances of works by Franz Liszt, Sergey Rachmaninoff, Frédéric Chopin, Aleksandr Scriabin, Domenico Scarlatti, and Sergey Prokofiev were… Continue reading Vladimir Horowitz *IX 18 1903 / The Life You Give

The Life You Give: Bill Evans *VIII 16 1929

Bill Evans, born William John Evans, August 16, 1929, in Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.A., is the jazz pianist known for lush harmonies and lyrical improvisation, one of the most influential pianists of his time.Evans’s first piano teacher was his mother; he also studied violin and flute. He graduated with a music teaching degree from Southeastern… Continue reading The Life You Give: Bill Evans *VIII 16 1929

The Life You Give: Alexis Weissenberg *VII 26 1929

If one wanted to make a biographical feature film about a classical musician, the life of the Bulgarian-American-French pianist Alexis Weissenberg would furnish ideal subject material. Born in Sofia in 1929, Weissenberg was taught to play the piano by his mother. Several members of her family were Vienna Conservatory-trained musicians, and Weissenberg grew up in… Continue reading The Life You Give: Alexis Weissenberg *VII 26 1929

The Life You Give: Robert Schumann *1810

Robert Schumann, born Robert Alexander Schumann, June 8, 1810, in Zwickau, Saxony [Germany], is the Romantic composer renowned particularly for his piano music, songs (lieder), and orchestral music. Many of his best-known piano pieces were written for his wife, the pianist Clara Schumann.Schumann’s father was a bookseller and publisher. After four years at a private… Continue reading The Life You Give: Robert Schumann *1810

The Life You Give: Martha Argerich *1941

Martha Argerich, (born June 5, 1941, Buenos Aires, Argentina), Argentine pianist known for her recordings and performances of chamber music, particularly of works by Olivier Messiaen, Sergey Prokofiev, and Sergey Rachmaninoff.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.… Continue reading The Life You Give: Martha Argerich *1941

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: Milton Babbitt *1916

Milton Babbitt, born Milton Byron Babbitt, on May 10, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., is the composer and theorist known as a leading proponent of total serialism—i.e., musical composition based on prior arrangements not only of all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale (as in 12-tone music) but also of dynamics, duration, timbre (tone colour),… Continue reading The Life You Give: Milton Babbitt *1916

The Life You Give: Billy Joel *1949

Billy Joel, born William Martin Joel, on May 9, 1949, in Bronx, New York, U.S.A., is singer, pianist, and songwriter in the pop ballad tradition whose numerous hit songs in the 1970s and ’80s made him an enduring favourite on the concert circuit.Joel, whose father was a German Jewish immigrant, was raised in Hicksville, a… Continue reading The Life You Give: Billy Joel *1949

The Life You Give: Keith Jarrett *1945

Keith Jarrett, born May 8, 1945, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., is a jazz pianist, composer, and saxophonist considered to be one of the most original and prolific jazz musicians to emerge during the late 20th century. He was also a noted classical pianist.A child prodigy, Jarrett began studying the piano at age three and performed… Continue reading The Life You Give: Keith Jarrett *1945

The Life You Give: Bartolomeo Cristofori *1655

Bartolomeo Cristofori, born Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori, May 4, 1655, in Padua, Republic of Venice, Italy, is the harpsichord maker generally credited with the invention of the piano, called in his time gravicembalo col piano e forte, or “harpsichord that plays soft and loud.” The name refers to the piano’s ability to change loudness according… Continue reading The Life You Give: Bartolomeo Cristofori *1655

The Life You Give: Duke Ellington *1899

Duke Ellington, born Edward Kennedy Ellington, April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., is the pianist who was the greatest jazz composer and bandleader of his time. One of the originators of big-band jazz, Ellington led his band for more than half a century, composed thousands of scores, and created one of the most distinctive… Continue reading The Life You Give: Duke Ellington *1899

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