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Walter Gieseking (1895 - 1956)

Gieseking’s father was a distinguished German doctor. His son Walter spent the first sixteen years of his life in southern France and Italy as Gieseking senior combined the practice of medicine with his interest in entomology. Although Gieseking played the piano from the age of four, he had no proper tuition until his family moved to Hanover in 1911. Here, aged sixteen, he became a pupil of Karl Leimer at the Hanover Conservatory where he remained for three years, after which he had no further tuition. At the age of twenty Gieseking performed the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in six recitals; and although World War I interrupted the beginnings of his career, in 1920 at one of his seven recitals in Berlin that season, he played music by Debussy and Ravel, composers with whom he would be associated throughout his life. (Interestingly, Gieseking was hailed as ‘the new Anton Rubinstein’, a title which would hardly have been applied to the Gieseking of the 1950s.) Debuts followed in London, America and Paris during the 1920s, and during the 1930s Gieseking spent much of his time touring Europe, America and South America.



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