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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Katchen, Julius

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Julius Katchen (1926 - 1969)


Julius Katchen’s grandparents taught music at conservatories in Warsaw and Moscow, whilst his mother was a pupil of Isidor Philipp at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. His father was an amateur violinist, and with so much music in the home, young Julius received all his musical tuition from his family. At the age of ten he made his public debut in Newark playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor K. 466. A year later he played the same concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy at the Philadelphia Academy of Music and a month later repeated the performance in Carnegie Hall, this time with John Barbirolli conducting. At twelve Katchen gave his New York recital debut at the Town Hall and in July 1939 played the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54 at Lewisohn Stadium with the New York Philharmonic and Efrem Kurtz.

Katchen was leading the life of a musical prodigy, who was taught not only music but all academic studies at home. Fortunately, when he was fourteen his father decided to enrol him in high school and stop his public performances. From high school Katchen went to Haverford College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1946 with a degree in philosophy. He had also studied English literature at Haverford and whilst at college he had some piano lessons from David Saperton. In the midst of his college studies, in December 1944, Katchen gave a recital at Carnegie Hall and two years later was one of five Americans offered a fellowship by the French government.

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