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

Eighty-Eight times Pianos — International Piano Day

The piano, also called pianoforte, French piano or pianoforte, German Klavier, is a keyboard musical instrument having wire strings that sound when struck by felt-covered hammers operated from a keyboard. The standard modern piano contains 88 keys and has a compass of seven full octaves plus a few keys.The vibration of the strings is transmitted… Continue reading Eighty-Eight times Pianos — International Piano Day

The Life You Give: Johann Sebastian Bach *1685

Johann Sebastian Bach, born March 21 [March 31, New Style], 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia, Ernestine Saxon Duchies [Germany], was a composer of the Baroque era, the most celebrated member of a large family of north German musicians. Although he was admired by his contemporaries primarily as an outstanding harpsichordist, organist, and expert on organ building,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Johann Sebastian Bach *1685

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: Bedřich Smetana *1824

Bedřich Smetana, born March 2, 1824, in Leitomischl, Bohemia, Austrian Empire [now Litomyšl, Czech Republic], was composer of operas and symphonic poems, and founder of the Czech national school of music. He was the first truly important Bohemian nationalist composer.Smetana studied music under his father, an amateur violinist. He early took up piano under a… Continue reading The Life You Give: Bedřich Smetana *1824

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: Aleksandr Scriabin *1871

Aleksandr Scriabin, born Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin, on Jan. 6, 1872, in Moscow, Russia, was a composer of piano and orchestral music noted for its unusual harmonies through which the composer sought to explore musical symbolism. Scriabin was trained as a soldier at the Moscow Cadet School from 1882 to 1889 but studied music at the… Continue reading The Life You Give: Aleksandr Scriabin *1871

The Life You Give: Maurizio Pollini *1942

Pollini made his debut at age nine. He graduated from the Milan Conservatory in 1959 and won the Ettore Pozzoli Competition that same year, followed by the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1960. He appeared on the stage more frequently during the second half of the 1960s, playing in the United States for the first time in 1968. In subsequent years he became known for his recordings and performances of works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.