Last Updated on 2022-11-28 | Originally Posted on 2020-08-03
A Pianist I Narrowly Missed
When I grew up, there were a certain number of pianists that I idolized. All but one of these were still alive and actively concertizing. That one, Arthur Rubinstein, is who I will first discuss in this series of profiles of my piano idols. Although he died in 1982, when I was still in high school, he stopped concertizing in 1976, so I never got to see him play live.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to choose him, since I am presenting five Chopin Waltzes as postludes in church this month, and getting ready to record all of the Scherzi for the Weekly Acorn starting next week as well.
On the Radio and in the Record Store
The reason I felt that I grew up with him was his legacy, and that his recent retirement and then departure meant he was still played often on the radio and available in record stores. Although he played a wide variety of repertoire far beyond Chopin, he was always mentioned as the go-to pianist for his countryman. Both were born in Poland and emigrated when they became adults.
Curating His Recordings
I think it’s healthy to listen to several different interpretations to get a rounded view of a composer’s music. However, if you don’t have that luxury, or are just looking for the one, I’d say Rubinstein works pretty well even today! Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of video footage, since back in the day audio recordings were primary. Plus, when you search for Rubinstein on YouTube, you’re mostly going to just find audio recordings with pictures of record covers instead of accompanying video. They’re still worth hearing, though their audio quality can be pretty bad. That’s something I’m more willing to forgive when video is included.
Rubinstein’s Chopin Videos on YouTube
- Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Op. 39
- Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53
- Etude in A-flat Major, Op. 25, No. 1 – Aeolian Harp
Thanks for Sharing This Memory
I hope you enjoyed this very brief look at a very short man who was a giant on the concert stage during most of the 20th century!