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Alexis Weissenberg (1929 - 2011)

Alexis Weissenberg’s mother was a pianist who raised her only child alone. It was she who gave Weissenberg his first piano lessons, and at the age of five he began lessons with Pantcho Vladigerov. During 1944 Weissenberg and his mother spent three months in a prison camp, but made their escape to Israel via Turkey. In Jerusalem he studied with Professor Schröder, a disciple of Schnabel, and at fourteen he played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 Op. 37 with the Jerusalem Radio Orchestra. He then studied piano with Busoni pupil Leo Kestenberg in Tel Aviv, often performing with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. At fifteen Weissenberg toured South Africa with four different recital programmes and five piano concertos. Then at the age of seventeen he travelled to America, where he approached Artur Schnabel. He received a few lessons from Schnabel and Wanda Landowska, but enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music in New York where his piano teacher was Olga Samaroff. For composition and music theory he studied with Philadelphia-born composer Vincent Persichetti. However, Weissenberg was not at Juilliard for very long. His career started quickly with his winning an award sponsored by the Philadelphia Orchestra with whom he played Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor Op. 30 under Eugene Ormandy. After winning the Leventritt Award, Weissenberg played Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and George Szell. He made extensive tours of South and Central America followed by his recital debut




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