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Xaver Scharwenka (1850 - 1924)

Brother of the composer and teacher Philipp Scharwenka (1847–1917), Franz Xaver was the son of an architect. When the family moved to Berlin in 1865 Xaver enrolled in Theodor Kullak’s New Academy, studying piano with Kullak and composition with Richard Wüerst. Only two years later he made his public debut in Berlin at the Singakademie, playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in D minor Op. 40. After another year of study he joined the staff of Kullak’s Academy until he was called for a year’s mandatory military service in 1873; after which he began life as a touring virtuoso, taking him to Northern Europe, Russia, Austria and England. His Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 32, which impressed both Liszt and Tchaikovsky, was written in 1877 (the year of his marriage) and two years later he performed it during his first appearance in England at the Crystal Palace. The work was a great success and he returned to London in 1880 to play it again, along with Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’Concerto Op. 73. The same year he was invited to Vienna to play his concerto with the great conductor Hans Richter where it was reported that ‘Without any reception and almost unnoticed, the young stranger seated himself at the piano, from which he was to rise amid a storm of applause, the like of which has perhaps never greeted any pianist since Anton Rubinstein.’ During further tours of Europe he played his own Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 3.




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