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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Browning, John

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John Browning (1933 - 2003)


Born into a musical family, Browning began to study the piano at the age of five. His mother had studied with the great Theodor Leschetizky and his father was a violinist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra. In 1945 the family moved to Los Angeles where the twelve-year-old Browning worked with Lee Pattison (who had been a pupil of Schnabel) and Rosina Lhévinne, who invited him to study with her at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. However, Browning decided first to study English, history and philosophy at Occidental College before going full time to the Juilliard in 1953. Straight away he began winning awards: the Hollywood Bowl Young Artists Competition and the Steinway Centennial Award in 1954, and, a year later, the Leventritt Award. He gained second prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (Vladimir Ashkenazy won first prize) and, in the same year of 1956, made his orchestral debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Dimitri Mitropoulos. This was the start of a successful career, leading to further engagements in the late 1950s with conductors of the stature of Eduard van Beinum and William Steinberg. Browning’s recital debut was given at New York’s Town Hall in 1958. The debut with Mitropoulos was also the catalyst for Browning’s association with Samuel Barber, as the composer had been at the performance and was so impressed that he invited Browning to his home to play through his Piano Sonata. When, in 1962, Barber was asked to compose a work for the opening of New York’s Lincoln Center celebrations,

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