He gave his first concert at age nine, and toured throughout Lithuania and East Prussia soon afterwards. Godowsky wrote in his autobiographical fragment, Retrospect: I would be very glad could I have stated with truth that I was a pupil of [Franz] Liszt or any other great man, but I was not. I have not had three months lessons in my life. I have been told I was playing the piano before I was two. I think, however, an imaginative family perpetrated this story. I cannot vouch for the truth one way or the other.
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He gave his first concert at age nine, and toured throughout Lithuania and East Prussia soon afterwards. Godowsky wrote in his autobiographical fragment, Retrospect: I would be very glad could I have stated with truth that I was a pupil of [Franz] Liszt or any other great man, but I was not. I have not had three months lessons in my life. I have been told I was playing the piano before I was two.
I think, however, an imaginative family perpetrated this story. I cannot vouch for the truth one way or the other. I have had some extraordinary experience, and this may have happened. I do not remember whether anybody taught me the value and meaning of notes and the use of the fingers of the keyboard, or whether I acquired my knowledge in an autodidactic way, but I do remember that I had no help from my fifth year on.
In he returned to the United States and began a pedagogical career by joining the staff of the New York College of Music. He moved to Berlin, again dividing his time between performing and teaching and giving a concert tour every year. Between and Godowsky gave several concerts in the United States and also made his first gramophone records there.
Much of the s was spent touring around the world; apart from concert appearances in Europe and the United States, Godowsky also gave extensive tours of South America and East Asia. His wife Frieda fell seriously ill in and her health continued deteriorating ever since. The pianist eventually moved to another apartment in New York together with his daughter Dagmar; he continued playing piano for friends and admirers, but never gave public performances.
In his last years, Godowsky put much effort into organizing a World Synod of Music and Musicians and an International Council of Music and Musicians, but neither project materialized.
After spending much of and suffering from various health problems, Godowsky died of stomach cancer on 21 November , at the age of Leopold Jr. His daughter, the actress Dagmar Godowsky — , appeared as a co-lead in various Hollywood silent movies , including some with Rudolph Valentino. The pieces are among the most difficult piano works ever written, and only a few pianists have ventured to perform any of them. Although his transcriptions are much more well known, Godowsky also composed a number of substantial original works.
He considered the Passacaglia and a collection of pieces for left hand alone —31 to be his most mature creations; both, however, employ traditional approach to harmony and counterpoint. A more experimental work was the Java Suite Phonoramas , composed after a visit to Java, under the influence of gamelan music.
Godowsky was equally comfortable writing large-scale works like the Passacaglia or the five-movement Piano Sonata in E minor as he was creating collections of smaller pieces, such as the 46 Miniatures for piano four hands and the Triakontameron ; subtitled "30 moods and scenes in triple measure".
On one occasion, he described the recording process thus: The fear of doing a trifling wrong augmented while playing; the better one succeeded in playing the foregoing, the greater the fear became while playing. It was a dreadful ordeal, increasingly so the more sensitive the artist, I broke down in my health in London in the Spring of , owing to these nerve-killing tortures.
How can one think of emotion! There is nothing like it in the world. It is tragic that the world has never heard Popsy as only he can play.
Studies after Frederic Chopin (Godowsky, Leopold)
Tweet Widget The name Leopold Godowsky is rarely mentioned when one talks about favourite composers who wrote piano works. His compositions are often only explored by pianists who are interested in the exotic repertoire of the piano literature. Does Godowsky deserve this neglect? Perhaps not.
Chopin & Chopin / Arr Godowsky : Etudes
These pieces remained legend to me — up to one of my last visits to a CD shop in Zurich when these still existed. They inevitably lose, while by themselves they are definitely a very impressive set of pieces — and masterworks, for sure! These Godowsky studies are an excellent example for this! But they are also definitely — studies: each of them is focusing on one particular technical aspect, such as rapid scales and broken chords, parallel passages, etc. A pianist would rarely perform just one or two, I think excepting encores, of course , but rather one complete cycle op. Sokolov did not record op. It was made at a time when he was at the height of his technical abilities.