A Baker’s Dozen by Great Classical Pianist Arthur
The subject of the In Tune Icon column for December is classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), who enjoyed an epic career – making his stage debut at age 7 and not retiring until he was 89.
The key word there is “enjoyed,” as Rubinstein was famous as the life of every party. He was a man of the world – born in Poland and spending key periods of his life in the cultural capitals of Berlin, Paris and London before settling in the U.S. and then Switzerland. He was a natural storyteller and a tireless social animal, someone who lived to perform. As a pianist, Rubinstein came from the grandest lineage: Mentored by violinist-conductor Joseph Joachim (a close friend and collaborator to Brahms), he studied with Karl Heinrich Barth, who had been instructed by that most famous of 19th-century virtuosos, Franz Liszt, who had been taught by Carl Czerny, who had been a pupil of Beethoven himself. Rubinstein’s pianism balanced color,
lyricism and verve, drawing a rich, warm tone from his instrument.
To millions of record buyers, radio listeners and concertgoers around the world, Rubinstein was the modern embodiment of Chopin, interpreting the Polish composer’s music with a blend of poetry and muscle. Although he recorded most of Chopin’s major works multiple times across a half-century, Rubinstein commanded a vast repertoire beyond that – from Beethoven and Brahms to Rachmaninoff and Mompou. This playlist merely dips into the vast
legacy the pianist left us on recordings. About his philosophy of music-making, Rubinstein said: “At every concert, I leave a lot to the moment. I must have the unexpected, the unforeseen. I want to risk, to dare. I want to be surprised by what comes out. I want to enjoy it more than the audience. That way the music can bloom anew.” — Bradley Bambarger