Abbey Simon

Biography

Born: January 8, 1922; New York, NY  
An enduring artist, Abbey Simon has enjoyed a lengthy career as both concert pianist and teacher; although less well-known by the general public than more widely publicized performers, he has made a strong showing on recordings, especially for the Vox label. He has specialized in works of the Romantic and early twentieth-century periods, notably those by Chopin, Schumann, Rachmaninov, and Ravel. In addition to an active performing career, Simon Read more has distinguished himself as a pedagogue at several institutions and is the founder of a prestigious international piano competition.

After private studies, Simon was awarded a scholarship to the Curtis Institute by the legendary pianist Josef Hofmann; he trained there from 1932 to 1940. Among his teachers were David Saperton (son-in-law of another legendary pianist Leopold Godowsky), Harold Bauer (an Englishman rooted in the Romantic tradition, but modern in his approach to questing after the essence of the printed score), and Dora Zaslavsky. In 1940, he won the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Award, an honor that led to his New York recital debut at Town Hall. Simon played several Carnegie Hall recitals before undertaking his first European tour in 1949. There, as he himself put it, he "found himself" and initiated the process of refining his own approach to the works he performed. Subsequent tours took him to many parts of the world, including South Africa, South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

A variety of honors followed, among them the National Orchestral Award, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Award, and the Harriet Cohen Medal. Critics were approving of his virtuosity and conscientious musicianship. The New York press routinely offered such comments as "Phenomenal! Control of near miraculous order" and "One of the finest, most hypnotic virtuoso techniques of the day." Since 1960, Simon has held several academic posts and has proven himself an effective and sensitive teacher. From 1960 to 1974, he was a faculty member at Indiana University and, since 1977, he has held dual positions at Juilliard School of Music and at the University of Houston where he is a Cullen Distinguished Professor at the University's Moores School of Music. Simon established the International Piano Festival at the school, an event that offers recitals by prominent pianists, including Simon himself, master classes, and conversation lunches.

Simon's performances reflect to a considerable degree the balance between force and clarity learned under Harold Bauer. While his is a generous, virtuosic technique, a thoughtful side keeps in check any impulse toward excess or bombast. Reviewing Simon's all-Chopin Carnegie Hall recital in 1999, critic Allan Kozinn noted that the event served as a reminder that "there is also a coolly rational side to his pianism." An extensive discography, including such labels as EMI, Philips, Turnabout, and especially Vox, has kept Simon's name before those of the public who may not have heard him in concert. The complete piano works of Ravel, complete recordings of works for piano and orchestra by Chopin and Rachmaninov, as well as numerous solo works by Schumann and Chopin exist beside other miscellaneous works by Saint-Saëns, Brahms, and Paganini. Read less
Browse 1-15 of 15 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven: Chamber Music For Winds
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 3014 Release Date: 05/20/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  George Silfies,  Abbey Simon,  Roland Pandolfi,  Walter Klien
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Camerata members
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  • 2.
    Schumann: Carnaval & Fantasy In C
    Label: Vox Allegretto   Catalog: 8192 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
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  • 3.
    Rarities Of Piano Music - 1990
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 379 Release Date: 02/03/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Scriabin,  Muzio Clementi,  Franz Liszt,  Leopold Godowsky  ... 
    Performer:  Igor Zhukov,  Claudius Tanski,  Janice Weber,  Marc-André Hamelin  ... 
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  • 4.
    25 Countryside Classics [dvd]
    Label: Vox Cameo Classics   Catalog: 8823 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Emil Waldteufel,  Alexander Borodin,  Jules Massenet,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philip Gibson,  Concord String Quartet,  Frank Shipway  ... 
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  • 5.
    Chopin: Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos, Etc / Abbey Simon
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5178 Release Date: 04/24/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
    CD: $13.99
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  • 6.
    25 Concerto Favorites
    Label: Vox Cameo Classics   Catalog: 8842 Release Date: 07/01/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Alfred Brendel,  Aaron Rosand,  Abbey Simon,  Jean-Jacques Kantorow  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Louis de Froment,  Leonard Slatkin,  Bernard Thomas  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Luxembourg Radio/Television Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    25 Romantic Moods
    Label: Vox Cameo Classics   Catalog: 8840 Release Date: 07/01/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Igor Stravinsky,  Gustav Holst,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Abbey Simon,  George Silfies,  Walter Klien,  Jerome Rose  ... 
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Walter Susskind,  Maurice Abravanel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Hamburg Symphony Orchestra,  Minnesota Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Abbey Simon Plays Chopin: Etudes And Waltzes Complete
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5167 Release Date: 10/22/1996   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
    CD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    25 Beethoven Favorites
    Label: Vox Cameo Classics   Catalog: 8815 Release Date: 08/20/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Alfred Brendel,  Walter Klien,  George Berry,  George Silfies  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Lizzio,  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Michael Gielen,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Festival Chorus,  London Festival Orchestra,  Minnesota Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Chopin: Nocturnes (Complete) / Abbey Simon
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5146 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
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  • 11.
    Paganini Variations- Works By Paganini, Liszt, Schumann, Etc
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 3020 Release Date: 12/12/1994   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Ruggiero Ricci,  Abbey Simon,  Peter Frankl,  Dubravka Tomsic  ... 
    Conductor:  Anton Nanut,  Bernard Thomas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ljubljana Symphony Orchestra,  Bernard Thomas Chamber Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Chopin: Complete Works For Piano & Orchestra / Abbey Simon
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5002 Release Date: 11/04/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
    Conductor:  Heribert Beissel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburg Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Rachmaninoff: Works For Piano And Orchestra / Simon, Slatkin
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5008 Release Date: 11/04/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $11.49
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  • 14.
    Ravel: Complete Music For Solo Piano / Abbey Simon
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5012 Release Date: 11/04/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
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  • 15.
    Ravel: Complete Works For Orchestra, Vol 2 / Skrowaczewski
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5032 Release Date: 11/04/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Abbey Simon
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Louis de Froment
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra,  Luxembourg Radio/Television Symphony Orchestra
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