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John Kirkpatrick

Both pianist and scholar, John Kirkpatrick attended Princeton University after which he continued his musical studies in France with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. While in Paris in 1927, Kirkpatrick was visiting a friend, the American pianist Katherine Heyman, when he saw a copy of the Piano Sonata No. 2 by Charles Ives on her piano. At Heyman’s suggestion he wrote to Ives, who sent him a copy of the sonata and his Essays. During the 1930s Kirkpatrick studied the work, and corresponded with Ives about certain details, at one point in 1935 sending him a questionnaire. By 1938 Kirkpatrick had learnt the whole sonata and performed it twice; the second time was from memory. On 20 January 1939 at New York’s Town Hall he played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C Op. 53, the ‘Waldstein’, and the complete ‘Concord’ Sonata. The influential music critic of the New York Herald Tribune wrote a glowing review of the work, commending Kirkpatrick for overcoming the ‘appalling’obstacles of this ‘almost unplayable’sonata. ‘His performance was that of a poet and a master, an unobtrusive minister of genius.’




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