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 26-50 of 86 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    50 Best Piano
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57540 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Claude Debussy,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  André Watts,  Stanislav Bunin,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Wayne Marshall,  Leonard Bernstein,  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  David Zinman  ... 
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  • 27.
    Zen Piano
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 28435 Release Date: 05/18/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  David Levine,  Aldo Ciccolini,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Dmitri Kitayenko,  Libor Pesek,  Richard Hickox  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grieg Trio,  Nash Ensemble
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  • 28.
    Chopin: Over 2 Hours Of Chopin's Greatest Masterpieces
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 88587 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg,  Agustin Anievas,  Ronald Smith,  Garrick Ohlsson  ... 
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Paul Kletzki
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  • 29.
    Best Chopin 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 58513 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson,  Danielle Laval,  Teresa Llacuna,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Charles Dutoit,  Paul Kletzki
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra,  Society of the Conservatory Concerts Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 30.
    Chopin 200th Anniversary Edition - Complete Works
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67117 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Garrick Ohlsson,  Benjamin Grosvenor,  Anna Tilbrook,  Andreas Brantelid  ... 
    Conductor:  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra,  Society of the Conservatory Concerts Orchestra
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  • 31.
    Franck: Symphony In D / Karajan, Orchestre De Paris
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69008 Release Date: 12/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 32.
    19th Century Masterpieces
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 98317 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Paul Dukas,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Aldo Ciccolini,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Michel Plasson,  Eugene Ormandy,  Klaus Tennstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 33.
    Bartók: Concerto For Orchestra / Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 38059 Release Date: 05/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Icon - Montserrat Caballe - Great Operatic Recordings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64845 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giacomo Meyerbeer  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Flora Rafanelli,  Giuseppe Baratti,  Bernabé Marti  ... 
    Conductor:  Lamberto Gardelli,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Italian Radio Chorus Rome,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome  ... 
    CD: $27.49
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  • 35.
    Best Concertos 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64739 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  George Gershwin,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Hough,  Wayne Marshall,  Ralph Markham,  Kenneth Broadway  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis,  Wayne Marshall,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Richard Hickox  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 36.
    Best Encores 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64752 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Alexander Goedicke,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Teodor Grigoriu,  Ernesto De Curtis  ... 
    Performer:  Ole Edvard Antonsen,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Placido Domingo,  Cheryl Studer  ... 
    Conductor:  John Barker,  Asher Fisch,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Franz Welser-Möst  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris  ... 
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  • 37.
    Zen Classics - Mozart, Debussy, Etc / L. Maazel, P. Jarvi, N. Dessay, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 34865 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Barbara Hendricks,  Augustin Dumay,  Steven Isserlis  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Harding,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Andrew Parrott,  Marek Janowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen,  Taverner Players,  French National Radio Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 38.
    Love's Dream: Romantic Piano Music
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4777524 Release Date: 11/10/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Edvard Grieg  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Evgeni Kissin,  Martha Argerich,  Emil Gilels  ... 
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  • 39.
    Best Karajan 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 15206 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Elisabeth Grümmer,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 40.
    Classic Aid Gala 1988
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422379 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Henri Wieniawski,  Traditional,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Simon Estes,  Ingolf Turban,  James Galway,  Shirley Verrett  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Orchestra of France
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 41.
    Bach: Italienisches Konzert, Partiten 4 & 6 / Weissenberg
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423592 Release Date: 05/13/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 42.
    Karajan In Concert
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001099209 Release Date: 05/13/2008  
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 43.
    Rachmaninoff: The Greatest Hits
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 765706 Release Date: 04/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Alexander Brailowsky,  Kathryn Stott,  Anna Moffo,  Alexis Weissenberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Enrique Jorda,  Leopold Stokowski,  Eugene Ormandy,  Charles Munch  ... 
    On sale! $36.99
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  • 44.
    Karajan - Complete Emi Recordings 1946-84 Vol 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 12038 Release Date: 04/01/2008   Number of Discs: 88
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Josef Strauss,  E. Nikolaus von Reznicek,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Leister,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Ernst Haefliger,  Anne-Sophie Mutter  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    On sale! $253.98
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  • 45.
    Russian Classics - Stravinsky: The Firebird;  Et Al / Ozawa
    Label: Emi Seraphim   Catalog: 69131 Release Date: 02/21/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Alexander Borodin,  Igor Stravinsky,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Victor Aitay,  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 46.
    Le Bis De Alexis Weissenberg
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 69114 Release Date: 12/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Déodat de Sévérac,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 47.
    Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 / Weissenberg
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 427499 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 48.
    Scarlatti: Sonatas / Alexis Weissenberg
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 415511 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 49.
    Chopin: Complete Music For Piano And Orchestra / Weissenberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 00906 Release Date: 10/02/2007   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
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  • 50.
    Chopin: Piano Sonatas / Alexis Weissenberg
    Label: Emi Studio   Catalog: 63158 Release Date: 09/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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