Julius Katchen


Born: August 15, 1926; Long Beach, NJ   Died: May 29, 1969; Paris, France  
A child prodigy of startling promise, Julius Katchen matured into a solo and chamber music pianist of broad interests and probing artistry. His death from cancer at age 42 denied a discerning public the presence of a pianist especially well-equipped to penetrate to the center-most meanings of those works he favored.

Born to a musical family, Katchen was instructed in the musical arts from his earliest years. His grandmother, formerly a
Read more faculty member at the Warsaw Conservatory, was his first piano instructor, while his grandfather taught him theory (his mother, a pianist, had trained at the Fontainebleau School of Music and had made concert appearances in both Europe and America). In 1937, Katchen presented himself to Eugene Ormandy and requested that he be permitted to play for him. Ormandy was sufficiently impressed to engage the lad for an appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The October 21, 1937, concert found Katchen performing Mozart's Concerto in D minor to high praise. Following this glowing reception, the 11-year-old pianist was invited to perform at a pension fund concert with the New York Philharmonic the following month. Critic Lawrence Gilman was moved to recall the debut of Josef Hofmann as a prodigy a half century before. "His fingers are fleet, his conceptions clear and intelligent," wrote Gilman of Katchen. "He has a musicianly feeling for the contour and flow and rhythm of a phrase and a sense of what is meant by Mozartean style." A New York recital a year later brought even more enthusiastic praise for the youth's musical understanding.

Before his career advanced, however, Katchen's parents chose to place a hold on further public appearances and enroll him instead at Haverford College, where he majored in philosophy and English literature. His break, Katchen often insisted, developed in him the intellectual curiosity that fed his interest in the more mentally challenging works in the repertory.

A fellowship extended by the French government permitted Katchen to travel to Paris in 1946; that cosmopolitan city became his home for the remainder of his life and he lost no time in making himself a formidable presence there and in the rest of Europe, respected for his commanding interpretive thoughtfulness and virtuoso technique. He undertook several highly successful tours of the Continent, winning acclaim in each center he visited. Decca Records signed him to an exclusive contract and he began recording a bracing cross-section of the repertory with Brahms always at the core. He presented concert performances of Brahms' complete solo piano works in New York, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Berlin and was heard with major orchestras in the two piano concertos. In addition to solo appearances, Katchen often took part in chamber music performances, again concentrating on Brahms, but certainly not neglecting other aspects of an extensive personal repertory. Ned Rorem and Benjamin Britten were just two contemporary composers to benefit from Katchen's advocacy. To say, as some have, that Katchen never achieved the success in America that was his in Europe fails to account for the far greater portion of his mature years that were spent on the Continent where other cultural stimulations prompted his most involved and productive work. Katchen was also acutely aware of the need to extend the exposure of classical music well beyond its existing ranks -- on December 11, 1968, he was one of! a large group of musicians, all but one of them from the rock and blues fields, to perform as part of the Rolling Stones' Rock & Roll Circus, and a segment that was introduced by Brian Jones, no less; alas, due to production and post-production problems, no one got to see any part of Katchen's performance until over three decades later; the pianist himself, terminally ill with cancer, didn't live another six months after this extraordinary event. His tragic death was keenly felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 32 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Decca Sound: The Piano Edition
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832243 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Julius Katchen,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  André Previn  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Bernard Haitink,  André Previn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $210.99
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  • 2.
    Waltz Gold: 50 Great Tracks
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4832499 Release Date: 11/10/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Emil Waldteufel,  Franz Lehár,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Nelson Freire,  Anton Karas,  Katia Labčque  ... 
    Conductor:  André Rieu,  Neeme Järvi,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Richard Bonynge  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Johann Strauss Orchestra,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Julius Katchen: The Complete Decca Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002543002 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Katchen,  Thea King
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  • 4.
    Bartok: Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459502 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Erich Binder,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Viktoria Mullova,  Gil Shaham  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Lehel,  Iván Fischer,  Antal Doráti,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $212.49
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  • 5.
    The Decca Sound [Repackaged Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002434502 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Alfredo Campoli,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Vladimir Ashkenazy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $181.49
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  • 6.
    Decca Sound  – Mono Years 1944 -1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $213.99
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  • 7.
    Istvan Kertesz: The London Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002033602 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Walter Berry,  Christa Ludwig,  Pilar Lorengar,  Erzsébet Komlossy  ... 
    Conductor:  István Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  Brighton Festival Chorus  ... 
    CD: $64.49
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  • 8.
    Great Pianists - Legendary Recordings from Arrau, Cherkassky, Cziffra, Gilels, Katchen
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5114 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Emil Gilels,  Claudio Arrau,  Julius Katchen,  György Cziffra  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Christoph von Dohnányi,  Otto Klemperer,  Rudolf Kempe  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $44.49
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  • 9.
    Britten: Piano Concerto; Diversions; Sinfonia Da Requiem
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 244 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Jacques Abram,  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Herbert Menges,  Benjamin Britten
    On sale! $23.98
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  • 10.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto No 1; Chopin: Ballade No  3; Liszt / Katchen
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5048 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 11.
    The Decca Sound - Highlights
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001620002 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Béla Bartók,  Benjamin Britten,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Montserrat Caballé,  Luciano Pavarotti,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Renata Tebaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Franco Capuana,  István Kertész,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir  ... 
    On sale! $39.99
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  • 12.
    Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4; Cello Sonata No. 5 & 32 Variations In C Minor; Bach: Partita
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 7936 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Julius Katchen,  Pablo Casals
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
    CD: $18.99
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  • 13.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 202 Release Date: 07/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ned Rorem
    Performer:  Regina Sarfaty,  Ned Rorem,  Julius Katchen
    CD: $13.99
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  • 14.
    Brahms: Piano Trio, Cello Sonata / Starker, Katchen, Suk
    Label: London/Decca Chamber Mus Series   Catalog: 425423 Release Date: 06/17/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  János Starker,  Julius Katchen,  Josef Suk
    CD: $17.99
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  • 15.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No 21 & 20 / Vered, Katchen, Foster, Munchinger
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425506 Release Date: 06/17/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Ilana Vered,  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Karl Münchinger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 16.
    Stravinsky: The Firebird, Petrouchka / Pierre Monteux
    Label: London/Decca Weekend Classics   Catalog: 421635 Release Date: 04/02/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Heritage Masters - Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Piano Sonata No 32 / Katchen
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001305302 Release Date: 08/11/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    On sale! $19.99
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  • 18.
    Britten: The Prince Of The Pagodas / Britten, Covent Garden
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421855 Release Date: 02/11/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 19.
    Brahms: Violin Sonatas / Josef Suk, Julius Katchen
    Label: London/Decca Chamber Mus Series   Catalog: 421092 Release Date: 08/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Julius Katchen,  Josef Suk
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  • 20.
    Chopin Favorites / Vered, Magaloff, Et Al
    Label: London/Decca Weekend Classics   Catalog: 417690 Release Date: 07/23/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Ivan Davis,  Ilana Vered,  Joseph Cooper,  Julius Katchen  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    Ultimate Classical Relaxation - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001079002 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Alicia de Larrocha,  Neil Black,  Tess Miller,  Carmel Kaine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Münchinger,  Sir Neville Marriner,  András Schiff,  Thurston Dart  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 22.
    Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps, Petrushka / Monteux, Paris Conservatoire
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 440064 Release Date: 11/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    Essential Piano - The Ultimate Piano Collection
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000397202 Release Date: 02/14/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  András Schiff,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Radu Lupu  ... 
    Conductor:  Edo de Waart,  Sir Colin Davis,  Lorin Maazel,  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $20.99
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  • 24.
    The Art Of Julius Katchen Vol 4 - Liszt, Grieg, Etc/ Argenta
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460831 Release Date: 04/20/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Edvard Grieg,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Mily Balakirev
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Ataulfo Argenta,  István Kertész
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 25.
    The Art Of Julius Katchen - Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1, 2, 3 & 5
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460822 Release Date: 01/12/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Julius Katchen
    Conductor:  Piero Gamba
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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