Artur Schnabel

Biography

Born: April 17, 1882; Lipnik, Austria   Died: August 15, 1951; Axenstein, Switzerland  
The present-day listener might be surprised to learn that composition was the favorite musical activity of pianist Artur Schnabel. Teaching came second in order of preference, and performance followed after that. Schnabel was reportedly uncomfortable with public performance as well as with recording, and described the years from 1919 to 1924, when he had withdrawn somewhat from active concertizing to concentrate on writing music, as the happiest Read more of his life.

Schnabel was born in Lipnik, Poland, on April 17, 1882. When he was seven his family took him to Vienna; there he came under the tutelage of piano pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky, who spotted in the young prodigy an unusually deep musicality. It was Leschetizky who steered the boy away from virtuoso showpieces, instead encouraging him to explore the then-neglected piano sonatas of Schubert, introspective and lyrical works that needed sensitive and alert readings to come to life. Schnabel also studied theory and composition with Brahms' friend Eusebius Mandyczewski, and by the age of 19 had composed and performed a large-scale piano concerto.

In 1900 Schnabel settled in Berlin, already a growing center for new music where the forward-looking pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni held court. Schnabel made the acquaintance of important composers and performers of the day and, through his marriage to contralto Therese Behr, immersed himself in the Romantic song literature. He joined the faculty of the Berlin State Academy in 1925.

Despite his prodigious talents as a musician, Schnabel was always more of a pianist's pianist. Eschewing the audience-pleasing blandishments of flashier soloists, he gave performances that revealed the inner significance of the music. His interpretations of the late, visionary sonatas of Beethoven were spiritual testaments, as can be heard in the landmark recordings he made in 1932 of the complete cycle of Beethoven's 32 sonatas. The company that issued the cycle, His Master's Voice, had had significant success with their subscription-funded recordings made in collaboration with the Hugo Wolf Society of that composer's complete songs, and they looked to repeat their success with Schnabel's studio performances. Although Schnabel greatly disliked the whole idea of recording, he created in HMV's studios one of the most valuable documents in the history of music, treasured not only for its technical artistry but also for the depth of Schnabel's musical insight.

In 1933, Schnabel left Berlin after the Nazi takeover of Germany. By 1939, he had settled in the United States, where he took citizenship and taught at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; he continued to record, but the commercial pressures of the American music industry were uncongenial for him. Though he maintained a home in New York City, he returned to Europe after World War II. In addition to his many recordings (he made far more, and with far more substantial repertoire, than such illustrious contemporaries as Rachmaninov and Busoni), Schnabel also prepared an edition of Beethoven's piano sonatas and the Diabelli Variations, and wrote three books: Reflections on Music (1933), Music and the Line of Most Resistance (1942), and the autobiographical My Life and Music (1961). As a composer, he wrote three symphonies, the aforementioned piano concerto, five string quartets, a Rhapsody for orchestra, piano pieces, and songs. His last work was a Duodecimet for strings, winds, and percussion. Most of these works remain unpublished and are only rarely heard; they demonstrate a highly original approach to the modernistic currents that flowed through Europe at mid-century. He died in Axenstein, Switzerland, on August 15, 1951. Read less
Browse 1-22 of 22 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Schubert: Lieder On Record (1898-2012) [17-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27575 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Peter Schreier,  Steven Zehr,  Thomas Hampson,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 181 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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  • 3.
    Pierre Fournier - The Aristocrat Of Cellists
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29539 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre Fournier,  Ernest Lush,  Tasso Janopoulo,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Eugčne Bigot,  Walter Susskind,  Alceo Galliera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Icon - Artur Schnabel - Scholar Of The Piano
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 65064 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel,  Claude Hobday,  Karl Ulrich Schnabel
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Schumann, Dvorak: Piano Quintets / Schnabel, Et Al
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1196 Release Date: 04/03/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Laurent Halleux,  Germain Prévost,  Robert Maas,  Alphonse Onnou  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet
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  • 6.
    Arthur Schnabel Plays Mozart
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1193 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel,  Karl Ulrich Schnabel,  Robert Mass,  Germain Prévost  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Walter Susskind  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Pro Arte String Quartet members  ... 
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  • 7.
    Complete Schubert Recordings / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1175 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel,  Therese Behr-Schnabel,  Karl Ulrich Schnabel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet members
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  • 8.
    Welte-mignon Piano
    Label: Tudor Records   Catalog: 7104 Release Date: 12/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Emil Von Sauer,  Paul de Schlözer,  Benjamin Godard  ... 
    Performer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Emil Von Sauer,  Josef Lhévinne,  Felix Dreyschock  ... 
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  • 9.
    Schubert: Impromptus / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 86833 Release Date: 06/07/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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  • 10.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5; Fur Elise
    Label: Avid   Catalog: 592 Release Date: 06/04/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
    Conductor:  Issay Dobroven,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
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  • 11.
    Schubert: Trout Quintet, Etc /Busch Quartet, Pro Arte, Et Al
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 9743 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Hermann Busch,  Adolf Busch,  Gösta Andreasson,  Karl Doktor  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch String Quartet,  Pro Arte String Quartet members
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  • 12.
    Schumann: Piano Concerto;  Schubert / Schnabel, Monteux
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1111 Release Date: 10/29/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Pierre Fournier,  Artur Schnabel,  Joseph Szigeti
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Schubert: Piano Sonatas D 850, D 959, D 960, Etc / Schnabel
    Label: Emi Classics Références   Catalog: 64259 Release Date: 09/10/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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  • 14.
    References - Schubert: Impromptus, Etc / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 761021 Release Date: 01/09/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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  • 15.
    The Piano Library - Artur Schnabel - Mozart, Schubert, Et Al
    Label: Enterprise   Catalog: 228 Release Date: 06/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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  • 16.
    Trio & Duo - Brahms: Chamber Music / Schnabel, Szigeti
    Label: Arbiter   Catalog: 121 Release Date: 04/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Joseph Szigeti,  Artur Schnabel,  Pierre Fournier
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  • 17.
    Artur Schnabel - The 1946-47 Hmv Solo Recordings
    Label: Apr (Appian)   Catalog: 5526 Release Date: 03/02/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
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    On sale! $21.98
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  • 18.
    Schnabel Plays Schubert Vol 2
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 9272 Release Date: 06/17/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel,  Therese Behr-Schnabel,  Karl Ulrich Schnabel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Arte String Quartet
    On sale! $34.98
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  • 19.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos 4 & 3 / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1021 Release Date: 01/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
    Conductor:  Issay Dobrowen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
    On sale! $25.98
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos 5 & 2 / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1020 Release Date: 01/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
    Conductor:  Alceo Galliera,  Issay Dobrowen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Beethoven: The 32 Piano Sonatas / Artur Schnabel
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 63765 Release Date: 03/15/1991   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Artur Schnabel
    On sale! $113.98
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  • 22.
    20 Gramophone All-time Greats Vol 2
    Label: Living Era   Catalog: 5133 Release Date: 07/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Luisa Tetrazzini,  Enrico Caruso,  Paul Robeson,  Ignace Jan Paderewski  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    On sale! $15.49
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