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Jose Iturbi (11/28/1895 - 6/28/1980)

Jose Iturbi’s father built and tuned pianos as a hobby so the young José had access to an instrument from a very early age. He was one of four children and his sister Amparo (1899–1969) also had a career as a pianist. At the age of eleven Iturbi was studying piano at the Valencia Conservatory with Joaquín Malats, a friend of Albéniz. The Spanish composer heard Iturbi and gave him part of his new work Iberia to play. When Iturbi was fifteen, the people of his home-town collected money to send him to study at the Paris Conservatoire with Victor Staub. He obtained a premier prix in 1913 and after World War I received a professorship at the Geneva Conservatory. During the 1920s he led the life of a touring virtuoso, travelling across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Russia and South America. He made his US debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski playing Beethoven’s G major Piano Concerto Op. 58. However, Iturbi was as interested in conducting as in being a pianist. His debut as a conductor in Mexico started a career in which he conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras including the Philadelphia, New York Philharmonic, London Symphony, La Scala Milan and Concertgebouw. He was appointed conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic in 1936.




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