- Claudio Arrau
Claudio Arrau León (February 6, 1903 – June 9, 1991) was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning from the baroque to 20th-century composers, especially Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Debussy. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century.
Life and early career
Arrau was born in Chillán, Chile, the son of Carlos Arrau, an ophthalmologist who died when Claudio was only a year old, and Lucrecia León Bravo de Villalba, a piano teacher. He belonged to an old, prominent family of Southern Chile. His ancestor Lorenzo de Arrau, a Spanish engineer, was sent to Chile by King Carlos III of Spain. Through his great-grandmother, María del Carmen Daroch del Solar, Arrau was a descendant of the Campbells of Glenorchy, a Scottish noble family.
Arrau was a child prodigy, giving his first concert at age five. When he was 6 he auditioned in front of several congressmen and President Pedro Montt, who became so impressed as to start arrangements for his future education. At age 8 he was sent on a 10-year long grant from the Chilean government to study in Germany, travelling in the company of his mother and sister Lucrecia. He was admitted at the Stern Conservatory of Berlin where he eventually became a pupil of Martin Krause, who had studied under Franz Liszt. At the age of 11 he could play Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, considered to be one of the most difficult sets of works ever written for the piano, and also Brahms's Paganini Variations. Arrau's first recordings were made on Aeolian Duo-Art player piano music rolls. Krause died after 5 years of teaching Arrau, who at 15 was desolate at the loss of his mentor.
In 1937, Arrau married the mezzo-soprano Ruth Schneider, a German national, and they had three children: Carmen (1938–2006), Mario (1940–1988) and Christopher (1959). In 1941 the Arrau family left Germany and migrated to the United States, where they spent their remaining years. He settled in New York City and adopted dual U.S./Chilean citizenship later on, in 1979.
Arrau was born and raised as a Roman Catholic. By his own admission, he was especially devout in his teenage years, having been encouraged by a French Catholic priest that he liked. He later became an agnostic, having become disgusted with the idea of transubstantiation, which he compared to cannibalism.
Tone and approach to music
Many claim that his rich, weighty tone lent his interpretations an authoritative, distinctive voice, some saying it sounded thick and muddy and others praising its rounded tone, saying it sounded as though Arrau were almost playing the organ or "plowing" his "paws" into the "flexible" keyboard. According to American critic Harold C. Schonberg, Arrau always put "a decidedly romantic piano tone in his interpretations".
Arrau was an intellectual and a deeply reflective interpreter. He read widely while travelling, and despite the lack of any formal education outside of his musical training, he learned English, Italian, German, and French in addition to his native Spanish. He became familiar with Jung's psychology in his twenties.
Arrau's attitude toward music was very serious. He preached fidelity to the score. Although he often played with slower and more deliberate tempi from his middle age, Arrau had a reputation for being a fabulous virtuoso early in his career. According to Joseph Horowitz in his book Conversations With Arrau (1982), many critics felt that his overall approach became less spontaneous and more reserved and introspective after the death of his mother, whom he was extremely close to. Arrau had isolated himself for two weeks after his mother's death, refusing to perform or to receive comfort from friends.
Arrau recorded the comprehensive piano music of Schumann. He edited Beethoven's piano sonatas for the Peters Urtext edition and recorded all of them on the Philips label in 1962-1966. He recorded almost all of them once again after 1984. He is also famous for his recordings of Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms and Debussy, among others.
- Beethoven: Piano Concertos (he recorded them three times) & Piano Sonatas
- Weber: Piano Sonata No. 1 & Konzertstück, Op. 79
- Schubert: Piano Sonata, D. 958 & Klavierstücke, D. 946
- Chopin: Nocturnes
- Schumann: Carnaval & Fantasia in C
- Liszt: Sonata in B minor & Transcendental Études
- Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto (he recorded them twice)
- Brahms: Piano Concertos (he recorded them twice) & Piano Sonata No. 3
- Debussy: Preludes
- Schoenberg: Piano Pieces, Op. 11.
At the time of his death at age 88 in Mürzzuschlag, Austria in the midst of a European concert tour, Arrau was working on a recording of the complete works of Bach for keyboard, and had Haydn, Mendelssohn, Reger, Busoni and Boulez's 3rd Sonata in preparation. His remains were interred in his native city of Chillán, Chile.
Awards and recognitions
- National Patron, Delta Omicron International Professional Music Fraternity[not in citation given]
- 1990: Gold Medal. The Royal Philharmonic Society
- 1988: La Medalla Teresa Carreño. Venezuela
- Honorary Member. The Royal Philharmonic Society
- 1984: The Highest Distinction Award from the Inter-American Music Council and the Organization of American States.
- Doctor Honoris Causa. Universidad de Concepción
- Professor Honoris Causa. Universidad de Bío-Bío
- 1983: The International UNESCO Music Prize
- National de la Légion d'honneur of France
- National Prize of Art of Chile
- First Honorary Member. The Robert Schumann Society
- Beethoven Medal of New York
- Doctor Honoris Causa. University of Oxford
- Commandatore. Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
- Knighthood from the Order of Malta.
- 1982: La Orden del Águila Azteca. Mexico
- 1980: Hans von Bülow Medal of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
- 1970: Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- 1968: Homage from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Kurt Westphal, on behalf of the orchestra, called him "heir to the throne of Gieseking and Busoni".
- 1965: Chevalier of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.
- 1959: Santiago's Honorary Citizen.
- Concepción's Honorary Citizen and City Gold Medal.
- Hijo Benemérito de Chillán. Chillán's hitherto Lumaco Street was named after Claudio Arrau.
- 1949: Hijo Predilecto de México.
- Doctor Honoris Causa. University of Chile
- 1941: Hijo Ilustre de Chillán. Chilean Government
- 1927: Winner of the Grand Prix of the Concours International des Pianistes Geneva. The jury was composed by Arthur Rubinstein, Joseph Pembauer, Ernest Schelling, Alfred Cortot and José Vianna da Motta. Cortot exclaimed: "Cela c'est un pianiste. C'est merveilleux".
- 1925: Honour Prize of the Stern Conservatory (German), becoming Professor.
- 1919 & 1920: Liszt Prize (after 45 years without a first place winner). Berlin
- 1918: Schulhoff Prize. Berlin
- 1918: End of studies at the Stern Conservatory, receiving an "Exceptional Diploma". Berlin
- 1916: Grant of the Stern Conservatory. Berlin
- 1915: First Prize in the Rudolph Ibach Competition (he was the only participating boy). Berlin
- 1915: Gustav Holländer Medal for young artists. Berlin
- 1911: Grant of the Chilean Congress for musical studies in Berlin.
- 1963: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis
Brahms 2 Piano Concertos with Carlo Maria Giulini and Philharmonia Orchestra [EMI Recorded in 1960 & 1962]
- 1965: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis
Beethoven 5 Piano Concertos with Bernard Haitink and Concertgebouw Orchestra [Philips Recorded in 1964]
- 1969: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis
Schumann Sonate Op.11, Fantasiestücke Op.111 [Philips Recorded in 1967 & 1968]
- 1970: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis
Brahms 2 Piano Concertos with Bernard Haitink and Concertgebouw Orchestra [Philips Recorded in 1969]
- 1971: Edison Award
Liszt Solo Piano Works: Ballade No.2, Jeux d'eaux à la villa d'Este, Vallée d'Obermann…… [Philips Recorded in 1969]
- 1975: Liszt Record Grand Prix
Liszt Complete Concert Paraphrases on Operas by Verdi [Philips Recorded in 1971]
- 1979: Diapason d'Or
Chopin Complete Nocturnes [Philips Recorded in 1977 & 1978]
- 1979: Caecilia Award, Belgium
Schumann Comprehensive Solo Piano Works [Philips Recorded from 1966 to 1976]
- 1979: Liszt Record Grand Prix
Liszt 12 Etudes d'exécution Transcendante [Philips Recorded in 1974 & 1976]
- 1982: Liszt Record Grand Prix
Liszt 2 Piano Concertos with Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra [Philips Recorded in 1979]
- 1989: Japan Record Academy Award
Beethoven 5 Piano Concertos with Sir Colin Davis and Staatskapelle Dresden [Philips Recorded in 1984 & 1987]
- 1990: FFFF de Télérama, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix du Disque, Warsaw Chopin Society's Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin
Chopin Complete Etudes [EMI Recorded in 1956, Remastered in 1987]
- 2003: Grand Prix du Disque
Schumann Piano Concerto, Carnaval & Beethoven Sonata Op.111 [EMI Filmed in 1963, 1961 & 1970]
- An interpreter must give his blood to the work interpreted. — Claudio Arrau
- Since in music we deal with notes, not words, with chords, with transitions, with color and expression, the musical meaning always based on those notes as written and nothing else - has to be divined. Therefore any musician, no matter how great an instrumentalist, who is not also an interpreter of a divinatory order, the way Furtwängler was, or Fischer-Dieskau is, is somehow one-sided, somehow without spiritual grandeur. — Claudio Arrau
- ArrauHouse. Comprehensive website on Claudio Arrau
- Biographical sketch for Claudio Arrau
- Discographie, repertoire et informations
- Remembering Claudio Arrau on the tenth anniversary of his passing from Unitel
- Decca & Philips' Biography and Discography of Claudio Arrau
- Marston Records' Biography of Claudio Arrau
- Biography of Claudio Arrau from Answers.com
- A comprehensive discography (French)
- Biography of Claudio Arrau (Spanish)
- Pianist Claudio.com
- Biography of Claudio Arrau (Spanish)
- Article of Claudio Arrau from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- Article of Claudio Arrau from BBC Radio 3
- Profile for Claudio Arrau León on Find-A-Grave
- Arrau's Museum
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Claudio Arrau — Naissance 6 février 1903 Chillán … Wikipédia en Français
Claudio Arrau — (1974) … Deutsch Wikipedia
Claudio Arrau — León (* Chillán, 6 de febrero de 1901 † Mürzzuschlag, Austria, 9 de junio de 1991), afamado pianista chileno, alumno del maestro alemán Martin Krause … Enciclopedia Universal
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