Alexander Goldenweiser


Born: March 10, 1875; Chisinau, Moldava   Died: November 26, 1961; Moscow, Russia  
Pianist and composer Alexander Goldenweiser was one of the great founders of the Russian Piano School, a tirelessly dedicated pedagogue who helped establish the very system of teaching piano in Russia that has led to many successful concert artists. Born in what is now Chisinau, Moldova, Goldenweiser's musical training as pianist and composer commenced once his family settled in Moscow in 1883, taking private lessons with Vasily Prokhunin, a Read more student of Tchaikovsky. Goldenweiser's term as student at the Moscow Conservatory began in 1889, where he studied with Alexander Siloti, Sergey Taneyev, Ferruccio Busoni, and Anton Arensky; he made his debut in 1896 in a duet recital with fellow student Sergey Rachmaninoff. In his youth, Goldenweiser was a close friend of author Leo Tolstoy, and transcribed practically every word they shared together, publishing such comments in book form after Tolstoy died in 1910. We also owe the existence of Tolstoy's only musical composition to Goldenweiser, who took it down after Tolstoy played it to him in 1906.

Just a year after his debut, Goldenweiser began to teach, and in 1906 was named to the staff of the Moscow Conservatoire, where he taught for the next 55 years. Goldenweiser also founded the Central Special Music School as an adjunct to the Moscow Conservatory in 1932 especially for the training of pianists; it remains in operation. Among the pianists who passed through Goldenweiser's instruction were Lazar Berman, Samuil Feinberg, Dmitry Kabalevsky, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Dmitry Paperno, and Nikolai Kapustin, though his favorite was Grigori Ginsburg who only outlived the master by less than a month. Goldenweiser was also a close friend to Alexander Scriabin and active in the founding of the Scriabin Museum in the 1920s. Rachmaninoff dedicated his Suite No. 2 for two pianos, Op. 17, to Goldenweiser and he enjoyed a lifelong friendship with Nikolay Medtner.

Goldenweiser never made piano rolls and did not record until 1946, when he was named a People's Artist of the USSR. He was 71 at the time and would go on to make many records up until his death at age 86; while many of his recordings are outstanding, they are uneven owing to his advanced age and the poor sound of many Soviet-era recordings. As a composer, Goldenweiser published his first composition in 1887 and continued to compose through 1912, when he breaks off -- he did not pick it up again until the early 1930s, then continuing until his death. One of the last recordings he made was of his own Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 31, partnered by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and violinist Leonid Kogan. Read less

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