|Arthur Rubinstein's Obituary (from Variety, December 22, 1982)|
Rubinstein Dies At 95; Towering Pianistic Talent
Arthur (aka Artur) Rubinstein, 95, the great classical pianist, died in his sleep Mon. (20) at his home in Geneva, Switzerland.
Rubinstein, who had few rivals among contemporary pianists, enjoyed a lengthy performing career which began at the age of four and continued until he was nearly 90.
Born in Lodz, Poland, in 1887, he was the youngest of seven children of a textile producer. He began studying piano at the age of three, and by the time he was eight, there was nothing more his professors at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music could teach him. Sent to Berlin to play for Joseph Joachim, he was taken under the famous violinist's wing and made his Berlin debut at the age of 11.
Afterwards, he gave recitals in Dresden, Hamburg, and Warsaw and visited Ignace Paderewski, who was one of the leading pianists of the day. Following an unsuccessful American tour in 1906; he studied with Paderewiski until 1910, when he returned to the concert stage ad became a major star in Europe.
During World War I, Rubinstein gave recitals for the Allied cause. He was so enraged by German treatment of the Belgians and the Poles that he vowed never to appear in Germany again, and he never did.
Around this time, Rubinstein toured Spain and South America to great acclaim, but reaction to a Carnegie Hall (N.Y.) concert in 1919 was less than enthusiastic. It wasn't until 1937, when he performed at Carnegie for the third time, that Rubinstein scored a hit with an American audience. But after that, he was idolized on this side of the Atlantic.
In 1932, meanwhile, he had married Aniela Mlynarski, daughter of the Polish conductor, Emil Mlynarski. They eventually had four children, including John Rubinstein now a w.k. [working] actor.
Move to California
When World War II broke out, Rubinstein moved his family form Paris to Beverly Hills, Calif. There he ghosted at the piano for film actors who played the roles of Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and others. Among these films were "I've Always Loved You," (1946), "Song of Love" (1947), "Night Song" (1947), "Carnegie Hall" (1947) and "Of Men And Music" (1950), in which he played himself.
Meanwhile, he continued touring, performing with nearly every major world orchestra. In 1946, he became a U.S. citizen, and in the '50s, he moved to New York. In his old age , as his performing commitments decreased, he wrote a two-volume autobiography for Alfred A. Knopf.
He also made a great number of recordings over a 50-year span. In the '30s, he recorded for Gramophone Co. Ltd., and those disks were released in the U.S. on the RCA label. He signed an exclusive contract with RCA in 1940. Sixty-three Rubinstein recordings are listed in the current catalog.
Most of Rubinstein's repertoire was draw from the 19th Century literature, although he also played Mozart and a sprinkling of 20th Century pieces. His interpretations of the standard repertoire, from Schumann and Liszt to Debussy and Ravel, were considered superb, but he was most renowned as an interpreter of Chopin.
A "natural" pianist who didn't have to practise as much as other keyboardists, Rubinstein reveled in the sensuous interplay of emotion and intellect when he performed. His renditions were always carefully detailed, but he was less concerned about hitting a few wrong notes than he was about expressing the musical content of a piece. In this respect, he was heir to a Romantic tradition stretching back to Liszt.
Nevertheless, he was more of a classicist than other pianists of his generation, such as Rachmaninoff and Josef Lhevine. While he was less afraid to use rubato than may of today's younger pianists, he never distorted the musical line for exhibitionistic effect.
Rubinstein is survived by his wife, Aniela, who lives in Paris, and four children, all of Manhattan.
[Rubinstein cross-references (you got here from one of them)]:
Guitar for the Practising Musician (May/89)
Acoustic Guitar (Nov-Dec/92)
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