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Jorge Bolet (1914 - 1990)


Jorge Bolet’s first teacher was his sister Maria, and at the age of twelve he performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor K. 466 with the Havana Symphony Orchestra. At thirteen he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied piano with David Saperton, the son-in-law of Leopold Godowsky, and also received advice from Godowsky, Josef Hofmann and Moriz Rosenthal. During 1935 he travelled to Paris and London, then returned to the Curtis Institute to study conducting with Fritz Reiner. He made his North American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and gave a recital at New York’s Town Hall. However, although he won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in New York his career was slow to start and he returned to the Curtis Institute to teach, becoming the assistant to Rudolf Serkin. It was not until the 1970s that Bolet began to attain the recognition he deserved, helped in part by the critic of the New York Times, Harold Schonberg, who championed Bolet’s cause: ‘The best piano recital this listener has encountered during the season was given by Jorge Bolet…He may well be the greatest living exponent of the kind of playing practised by such giants of the past as Hofmann, Rachmaninov and Lhévinne. Indeed, he may be the only one.’ Performances at Hunter College and Alice Tully Hall in New York led to a Carnegie Hall recital in 1974. This was an important occasion for Bolet’s career, as not only did it receive excellent reviews, but the whole concert was

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