Wilhelm Kempff


Born: November 25, 1895; Jüterbog, Germany   Died: May 23, 1991; Positano, Italy  
One of the twentieth century's most important pianists, Wilhelm Kempff found warmth in Beethoven where many others discovered only stress and passion. Concentrating on the composers of the late Classical and early-to-middle Romantic periods, Kempff achieved graceful, amiable results while not neglecting the sterner core of this music. His nobility of purpose was everywhere evident, made manifest through lucid textures, an adherence to a flowing Read more legato, and tonal shading. In addition, he was a composer whose oeuvre included two symphonies, four operas, songs, and solo piano works.

Trained first by his Lutheran church musician father, Kempff studied privately before entering Berlin's Hochschule für Musik at age 9. In 1914, he traveled to Potsdam for further studies at the Viktoriagymnasium before returning to Berlin to finish his work at the Hochschule and enroll at the university. At age 20, Kempff served as organist and pianist on a tour of Germany and Scandinavia by the Berlin Cathedral Choir. A successful 1917 piano recital at the Berlin Singakademie led to an engagement the following year with the Berlin Philharmonic, the first of innumerable collaborations with that august ensemble. During the 1920s and 1930s, he toured South America and Japan, as well as many parts of Europe, adding to his reputation for uncompromising musicianship and personable interpretation. At the same time, he taught, serving first as director at the Stuttgart Musikhochschule from 1924 to 1929 and, later, as piano instructor at Potsdam's Mamorpalais for the decade before WWII. The war kept his activities confined to Germany, but with its end, Kempff once more resumed a busy performance schedule.

England and America heard Kempff only later. In London, the public, including a large number of German émigrés, applauded him upon his first appearance there in 1951. Not until 1964 did New York hear the pianist in person, although by then his many Deutsche Grammophon recordings had already established his stature for Americans. Indeed, Kempff's long and fruitful relationship with that label had brought to the market a long list of desirable recordings, among them the complete Beethoven piano concerti; the sonatas; a relaxed, but rewarding survey with Wolfgang Schneiderhan of the Beethoven violin sonatas; and various collections of Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms. Read less
Browse 1-13 of 13 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Bach Without Words: Transcriptions Of Bach Chorales And Choral Preludes
    Label: Genuin Classics   Catalog: 15375 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Kurtág,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wilhelm Kempff
    Performer:  Anna Christiane Neumann,  Anja Kleinmichel
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  • 2.
    Busoni: Transcriptions of Works by Bach & Brahms / Schmidt
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 14005 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Wilhelm Kempff
    Performer:  David Theodor Schmidt
    CD: $17.99
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  • 3.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4765171 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners,  Sir William Walton,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Wilhelm Kempff  ... 
    Performer:  Antony Gray
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  • 4.
    J.S. Bach: Piano Music / Nikolayeva
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1205 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Myra Hess,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Tatiana Nikolayeva
    CD: $12.99
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  • 5.
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Voice of the Century [23 CDs & 2 DVDs]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001792900 Release Date: 01/15/2013   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Daniel Barenboim,  Jörg Demus,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Karl Böhm,  Lorin Maazel,  Karl Richter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $108.49
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  • 6.
    Dinu Lipatti: Studio Recordings 1950
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 7054/55 Release Date: 02/08/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Frédéric Chopin,  Myra Hess  ... 
    Performer:  Dinu Lipatti
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  • 7.
    Johann Sebastian B.A.C.H.ianas & Transcriptions / David Bismuth
    Label: Ameson   Catalog: 815 Release Date: 05/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Robert Schumann,  Karol Beffa  ... 
    Performer:  David Bismuth
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  • 8.
    Label: Vms Musical Treasures   Catalog: 2236233 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    Performer:  Rüdiger Steinfatt
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  • 9.
    Kempff: Works For Piano / Rudiger Steinfatt
    Label: Vms Musical Treasures   Catalog: 2231306 Release Date: 01/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Kempff,  Christoph W. Gluck
    Performer:  Rudiger Steinfatt
    CD: $19.99
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  • 10.
    Kempff: Piano Trio In G Minor, Piano Quartet In G Major
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 342520 Release Date: 06/13/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    Performer:  Andrea Schumacher,  Darius Burnecki,  Astrid Sulz,  Antonella Pagano  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 11.
    Rarities Of Piano Music At Schloss Vor Husum (1993)
    Label: Danacord   Catalog: 419 Release Date: 02/03/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Othmar Schoeck,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Sergio Fiorentino,  Werner Bärtschi,  Nina Kavtaradze,  Trefor Smith  ... 
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  • 12.
    Bach - Transcriptions And Variations / Oppitz
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98479 Release Date: 08/01/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Franz Liszt,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wilhelm Kempff  ... 
    Performer:  Gerhard Oppitz
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  • 13.
    Kempff: Italian Suite, Piano Sonata, Transcriptions / Biret
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223452 Release Date: 12/03/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Christoph W. Gluck,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Idil Biret
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