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Classical 101

Pianist Alexis Weissenberg Has Died at Age 82

The noted Bulgarian pianist Alexis Weissenberg died on January 8 at the age of 82.  He has been called one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century.  He passed away in Lugano, Switzerland after a long illness. Born in 1929 in Sofia into a Jewish family, his life was saved during World War Two because of his skill playing the accordion.  Alexis and his mother were sent to a concentration camp, but a guard who liked his playing allowed them to leave and go to Istanbul.  They made it to Jerusalem, where he studied before going to the Julliard School of Music in New York.  He eventually moved to Paris where he studied and taught. Alexis Weissenberg's recordings of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic and Karajan are highly regarded.  I well remember his scintillating performances of Scarlatti and Debussy  from the 1980's on Deuschte Grammophon.  I have heard his playing described as expressing "originality, structural clarity and an effortless mastery of touch." Here is an example of his playing in music of Stravinsky from Petrouchka: http://youtu.be/EgJ0XWyYY4Y