Thursday, 31 December 2009

Arthur Rubinstein - The Aristocrat

Dear Readers,

To follow up on the great theme of classical piano music, I am delighted to bring to you a few snippets of information about the great Pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887 - 1982). Rubinstein was an American of Jewish-Polish descent. Following in the great tradition of piano music, most good composers came from western Europe, while the best pianists came from eastern Europe. Those with Jewish blood are in fact even more talented than others.

Anyway, this post is all about the piano clip at the end. It's so good that the publishers did not want people to share it, so they disabled embedment. However, I kindly ask you to click on the URL link to listen and see this masterpiece.


It has been told that Arthur Rubinstein was an aristocrat, and he has a velvet touch on the piano. Now, if you're reading this and have no clue about the piano, or you never actually played the piano you might roll your eyes and think this is rubbish, but listen to him and then judge. Rubinstein played many wrong notes, but he didn't care and it didn't matter. How he played the right notes was amazing. He was very gifted technically, but he wasn't as perfect as Pollini for example. Still, he was one of the most eloquent of poets of the ivories.

Here are what a few resources have to say about Rubinstein:

He was a well-known pianist-artist all his life, but not until the middle 1930’s did he become an international headliner. Despite Rubinstein’ s claim that he never settled down until his return to the United States in 1937, the records that he made in the middle 1920’s tell a different story. Such discs as the ones of Liszt’s Tenth Rhapsody, or the Albeniz Navarra, demonstrate a phenomenal virtuosity, gorgeous colorations and the most beautiful of singing lines. To tell the truth, he probably never played better.

What really happened was that, in his young maturity, he suddenly found himself in the right place. The two reigning heroes of the keyboard, Josef Hofmann and Sergei Rachmaninoff, were nearing the end of their careers. The new crop of younger pianists were, by and large, percussionists and not very interesting. (There were exceptions, of course. Benno Moiseiwitsch and Vladimir Horowitz were major pianists by any standards). The public was looking for a new Romantic hero, and Rubinstein met all specifications.

He was Polish, hence romantic and exotic. He had incredible charisma. In the United States he had been preceded by a series of superb recordings - the Tchaikovsky B flat minor Concerto, the Chopin Scherzos and other works by Chopin - that had created a great deal of interest. Suddenly Rubinstein found himself in great demand, and after World War II he became one of the most popular pianists before the public. The other was Vladimir Horowitz; but the moody, unpredictable Horowitz had a habit of taking long sabbaticals, the longest of which (from 1953 to 1965) kept him away from the public for twelve years. Rubinstein never was away.

More at:

I have to say that Rubinstein is not my favorite of favorite pianists. That title is reserved for someone that I'll reveal later. However, Rubinstein is definitely one of the most entertaining and pleasurable pianists to enjoy music from under their digits.

Again.. please don't forget to listen to this:



Jazzical Aficionado said...

Happy New Year to you Bro :)

The public was looking for a new Romantic hero, and Rubinstein met all specifications.

Keeping Schumann's 'Traumerei' in mind, I was always under the impression that Vladimir Horowitz fit the Romantic hero bill, no?

BuJ said...

thank you!!! happppppy new year :)))))))))

lovely to see you here Mr L :)

only YOU could guess who my real classical pianist hero is.. hehe.. you got it spot on.. another eastern european Jew.. but seriously.. aren't they the best!!!!!?

Horowitz's tone on the piano is comparable to none.. but it was Rubinstein that was the real celebrity.. also since i'm not technically perfect, i love rubinstein coz he played a lot of wrong notes, but his music is still lovely. i like the wrong notes coz it makes him human.

compare that with modern idiots like Lang Lang (or whatever his name is).. that play like machines and make a lot of accurate noises but no music.

Paraglider said...

Well, my own instrument is classic guitar, but in the same vein, I still hold that Julian Bream, complete with occasional squeaks and blunders, plays with more musicianship than anyone since (including John W). Enjoyed this mini seires, thanks!

BuJ said...

Paraglider! welcome!

btw, i saw Paranormal Activity on the silver screen the other day! I remembered your Paranormal Hotel!

do u like Albeniz on the guitar? i'd love to be able to play Asturias.. i play it well on z piano but i wanna do the same on guitar.

Paraglider said...

Believe it or not, I saw Segovia live on his last tour to UK, playing some of his own Albeniz transcriptions. He was 89 years old at the time. Past his best of course, but hey, he was still Andres Segovia!

BuJ said...

Segovia eh? i never heard of him.. yalla, let me fire up my google :)

i love the old latin instrumentalists :)

great to see you paraglider.