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Wilhelm Backhaus (1884 - 1969)


Backhaus began his training at the Leipzig Conservatory at the age of ten under Alois Reckendorf. He then had some lessons for around a year with Eugen d’Albert in Frankfurt, but after this received no more formal training. Although he had played in public since he was eight, he made his professional debut in 1900, following it with a tour. He had, by this time, a large repertoire of more than 300 pieces and at least twelve concertos. At his London debut he played Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor Op. 25 and Brahms’s Variations on a theme by Paganini Op. 35. A year after this he substituted at short notice for Alexander Siloti at one of the Hallé concerts in Manchester, and three years later took up a post as professor of piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In the same year Backhaus won the prestigious Anton Rubinstein Prize in Paris, adding a further boost to an already burgeoning career as a pianist that continued until a few days before his death.

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