Alexis Weissenberg

Biography

Born: July 26, 1929; Sofia, Bulgaria   Died: January 8, 2012; Lugano, Switzerland  
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 an environment where the sight-reading of chamber music was as common as watching Read more television is for most children today. His second piano teacher was a disciplinarian dentist, his third Bulgaria's top composer and pedagogue, Pancho Vladigerov, at whose house Weissenberg heard Dinu Lipatti perform.

At age 10, Weissenberg gave his first recital, performing, among other works, an etude of his own composition. Shortly thereafter, Weissenberg and his mother attempted to flee Bulgaria for Turkey as fascist terror deepened. They were caught and thrown in a concentration camp. "Only three elements remained constant," Weissenberg recalled. "Silence, singing, and crying." What saved the pair was an accordion Weissenberg had been given as a gift by an aunt. A German guard who liked music let Weissenberg play and after three months put the Weissenbergs on a train to Istanbul, throwing the accordion into their compartment through an open window as they left.

They made their way to Turkey and then to Israel, where Weissenberg studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and performed with the Israel Philharmonic under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. He left his accordion with a group of children after playing an outdoor concert and departed for the U.S. in 1946. Weissenberg enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music, studying with Olga Samaroff and at times with Artur Schnabel, and making contact with Vladimir Horowitz, who urged Weissenberg to enter the Leventritt Award competition. Weissenberg won the award in 1947, and his career was launched. His U.S. debut came with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by George Szell, and for the next ten years he toured the U.S. and Europe.

In 1956 Weissenberg moved to Paris, eventually becoming a French citizen. For a decade beginning around that time, he took a hiatus from performing, subjecting himself to a reconstruction of his keyboard technique. His performances of Chopin, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev were especially notable, and the Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue was a staple of his recital programming. His recordings of the 1960s and 1970s remained well represented in reissues on the EMI label as of the early 2000s, and he remained active into old age. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 81 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Rachmaninov: The Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002145102 Release Date: 09/23/2014   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  André Previn,  Peter Jablonski,  Mikhail Pletnev  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Stanislaw Wislocki  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Goldner String Quartet,  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Karajan And His Soloists, Vol. 2 (1969-1984)
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633624 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jules Massenet,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris
    CD: $64.49
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  • 3.
    Carlo Maria Giulini: The Concerto Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 31761 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg,  Manoug Parikian,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Itzhak Perlman  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Bach Transcriptions / Gelber, Weissenberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 353002 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Bruno-Leonardo Gelber,  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 5.
    Ravel: Le Tombeau De Couperin; Schumann: Fantasie C-dur Op. 17; Mussorgsky: Bilder Einer Ausstelkung
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 869122 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 6.
    The Baroque Collection
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 73420 Release Date: 10/22/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Giovanni Palestrina  ... 
    Performer:  Xavier Darasse,  Maurice André,  Guy Touvron,  Pierre Pierlot  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Auriacombe,  Jörg Faerber,  Jacques Roussel,  Raymond Leppard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Chamber Orchestra,  Württemberg Chamber Orchestra,  Antiqua Musica  ... 
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  • 7.
    Essential Encores
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 05149 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolň Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian,  Michael Rabin,  John Lenehan  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Nash Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 8.
    Piano Treasures
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2639 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Francois-René Duchable,  György Cziffra,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Michel Plasson,  György Cziffra,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
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  • 9.
    Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 78466 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Johann Pachelbel,  Thomas Tallis,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Samson François,  Arleen Augér,  José Luis Garcia,  Peter Barley  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yan Pascal Tortelier,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cellos of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Cellos,  Les Violons du Roy
    CD: $15.99
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  • 10.
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001701502 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Anatol Ugorski,  Aloys Kontarsky,  Alfons Kontarsky  ... 
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  • 11.
    The Sigi Recordings, 1949-1955
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 7987 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Carl Czerny,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 12.
    Bach: Goldberg Variations
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 02319 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 13.
    Brahms: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 02305 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 14.
    Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 02320 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
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  • 15.
    Icon - Alexis Weissenberg: The Champagne Pianist
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6790862 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Herbert von Karajan,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
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  • 16.
    Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals / Ciccolini, Weissenberg, Pretre
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6027625 Release Date: 03/13/2012  
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini,  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Georges Prętre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No 1 / Weissenberg, Karajan, Orchestre De Paris
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6027655 Release Date: 03/13/2012  
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 18.
    The Very Best Of Herbert Von Karajan
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6789922 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Antonín Dvorák,  Jean Sibelius,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Gidon Kremer,  James Galway  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    Beethoven / Karajan [13-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001622702 Release Date: 12/06/2011   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Christoph Eschenbach,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Yo-Yo Ma  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein
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  • 20.
    100 Best Liszt
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 83794 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Andrea Lucchesini,  Craig Sheppard,  Aldo Ciccolini  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Willi Boskovsky,  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Best Liszt 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 87924 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Andrea Lucchesini,  Craig Sheppard,  Aldo Ciccolini  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur,  Willi Boskovsky,  Riccardo Muti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 22.
    Moonlight Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82161 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Claude Debussy,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Sonia Maurer,  Giovanni Scaramuzzino  ... 
    Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic,  Fabio Biondi,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Pierre Dervaux  ... 
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  • 23.
    The Very Best Of Montserrat Caballe
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94792 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Pietro Mascagni,  Gioachino Rossini,  Joaquin Turina  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Thomas Allen,  Elisabeth Bainbridge,  Alexis Weissenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Anton Guadagno,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Lamberto Gardelli  ... 
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  • 24.
    Piano Recital 1972 / Alexis Weissenberg
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93710 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 25.
    Best Chopin 50
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 31666 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Stephen Kovacevich,  Ingrid Fliter,  Dmitri Alexeev,  Dinu Lipatti  ... 
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Paul Kletzki,  Charles Dutoit,  Jerzy Maksymiuk
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Society of the Conservatory Concerts Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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