Wilhelm Kempff

Biography

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 1-25 of 77 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas / Kempff
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4837429 Release Date: 09/13/2019   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    DVD: $74.49
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  • 2.
    Henryk Szeryng: Complete Philips, Mercury and Deutsche Grammophon Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4834194 Release Date: 12/07/2018   Number of Discs: 44
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Pierre Fournier,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Maurice Hasson  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Henryk Szeryng,  Edouard Van Remoortel,  Sir Alexander Gibson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $129.99
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  • 3.
    Mstislav Rostropovich - The Indomitable Bow
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110583 Release Date: 12/07/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Wilhelm Kempff
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Mstislav Rostropovich - The Indomitable Bow [Blu-ray]
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 82 Release Date: 12/07/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Wilhelm Kempff
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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    Blu-ray Video: $22.49
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  • 5.
    Complete Schubert Solo Recordings on DG  / Kempff [9 CD + Blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4835609 Release Date: 10/19/2018   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    CD: $74.49
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  • 6.
    Beethoven: The Complete Wartime Piano Sonata Recordings / Kempff
    Label: Apr   Catalog: 7403 Release Date: 11/17/2017   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
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    CD: $34.99
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    Beethoven: Piano Sonatas / Kempff [Vinyl]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797724 Release Date: 09/01/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    LP: $32.99
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  • 9.
    Arrangements or Transfigurations
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350132 Release Date: 05/26/2017  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff,  Arthur Grumiaux,  Georges Janzer,  Eva Czako  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Craft,  Antal Doráti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Tokyo String Quartet,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    SuperAudio CD: $23.99
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  • 10.
    Premier Pianists, Vol. 1
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4596 Release Date: 03/10/2017  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Rosalyn Tureck,  Lili Kraus,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Peter Serkin  ... 
    DVD: $28.99
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  • 11.
    Pierre Fournier Edition: Complete Recordings on DG, Decca & Philips
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4796909 Release Date: 02/10/2017   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Max Bruch,  Ernest Bloch  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre Fournier,  Géza Anda,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan,  Giusto Cappone  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon,  Alfred Wallenstein,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $92.49
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  • 12.
    50 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002596702 Release Date: 12/02/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Bedrich Smetana,  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  David Garrett,  Hélčne Grimaud,  Max Richter,  Daniel Hope  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel,  Rafael Kubelik,  Herbert von Karajan,  André de Ridder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 13.
    Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 24, K. 491 & No. 8, K. 246 / Kempff
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250359 Release Date: 11/04/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    CD: $22.99
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  • 14.
    Piano Daydreams / Argerich, Barenboim, Lang
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002529802 Release Date: 08/12/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Marc Luisada,  Dino Ciani,  Alexis Weissenberg,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $6.99
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  • 15.
    Beethoven: Piano Concertos / Kempff
    Label: Apr   Catalog: 6019 Release Date: 08/10/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    Conductor:  Paul Van Kempen,  Peter Raabe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Deutsche Opera Orchestra Berlin  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 16.
    The Late Beethoven Sonatas / Kempff
    Label: Apr   Catalog: 6018 Release Date: 08/10/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Wilhelm Kempff: Complete Schubert Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002520202 Release Date: 07/22/2016   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    CD: $52.49
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  • 18.
    The Originals: 8 Legendary Albums
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002469802 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Frédéric Chopin,  Franz Liszt,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff,  Martha Argerich,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Anne-Sophie Mutter  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlos Kleiber,  Claudio Abbado,  Rafael Kubelik,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $32.49
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  • 19.
    Deutsche Grammophon: The Mono Era (1948-1957)
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002457272 Release Date: 03/18/2016   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Stefan Askenase,  Shura Cherkassky,  Halina Czerny-Stefanska,  Basile Bolotine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karel Ancerl,  Karl Böhm,  Serge Jaroff,  Leopold Ludwig  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amadeus Quartet,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 20.
    Schubert: The Edition, Vol. 1
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002447802 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 39
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Elena Kremer,  Emil Gilels,  Oleg Maisenberg,  Valery Afanassiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Eduard Melkus,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart,  Amadeus Quartet  ... 
    CD: $135.49
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  • 21.
    Liszt: Annees de pelerinage - Italie; Deux Legendes / Kempff
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186220 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff
    SuperAudio CD: $15.99
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  • 22.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $196.99
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  • 23.
    Classical Music For Dogs
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001916602 Release Date: 11/25/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johann Pachelbel,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Andras Schiff,  Wilhelm Kempff,  Marisa Robles  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Richter,  Karl Münchinger,  Sir Georg Solti,  David Zinman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
    CD: $9.99
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  • 24.
    BBC Legends - Great Recordings from the Archive
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5113 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Beryl Hatt,  Agnes Giebel,  Joyce Barker,  Kerstin Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Kiril Kondrashin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpington Junior Singers,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union  ... 
    CD: $98.99
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  • 25.
    Brahms: Complete Piano Music / Barenboim, Kempff, Ugorski [ 9-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923402 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Wilhelm Kempff,  Anatol Ugorski,  Daniel Barenboim,  Tamás Vásáry  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
    CD: $46.99
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