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Beveridge Webster (1908 - 1999)

Webster’s father, who had the same name as his son, was the founder of the Pittsburgh Conservatory which was established in 1893; and it was he who gave the child his first piano lessons when his son was five years old. When Beveridge was thirteen, his father sold the Conservatory and moved to Paris, where the boy studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Isidor Philipp, winning a premier prix from his class, the first American to do so at the Paris Conservatoire. Webster also studied with Robert Casadesus and Nadia Boulanger at the American School at Fontainebleau from where he won a first prize at the age of fourteen.

Whilst in France, Webster became friends with Maurice Ravel and Debussy’s publisher Jacques Durand. He studied Ravel’s works with the composer between 1926 and 1932, and in 1924, when still only sixteen, he gave the world première in Paris of Ravel’s Tzigane with violinist Samuel Dushkin. He would often appear in concerts with Ravel, and also became a close associate of Igor Stravinsky. During the late 1920s Webster toured, giving many concerts in Paris and throughout Europe, and during the 1930s studied in Berlin with Artur Schnabel for a total of three years. At his debut in America in November 1934 he played Edward MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 23 with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and three weeks later gave his recital debut at Carnegie Hall.




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