Thursday, February 18, 2010

Earl Wild Remembered

The classical music world lost one of its greatest pianists a few weeks ago - Earl Wild, who, in addition to being probably the first pianist to play on television, was of a pianistic lineage mere steps from the heart of the Romantic pianistic tradition.

I can think of no other American pianist who was connected to so many great pianists and teachers of the nineteenth century. As a student of Selmar Jansen, he was directly linked to the teaching of Franz Liszt through Jansen's teachers Eugen D'Albert and Xavier Scharwenka. He came into contact with the style of Busoni through his studies with Egon Petri, and to the tradition of Jan Ignace Paderewski through his work with Paul Doguereau. He could also trace lineage back to Camille Saint-Saëns through Volya Cossack, who was a pupil of Saint-Saëns's student Isidore Philippe.

Some remembrances of his legacy from the last few weeks:

Allan Koznin in the NY Times
Stephen Hough in the Telegraph
More from the Telegraph
CBC News
BBC News
Tim Smith in the Baltimore Sun
Martin Steinberg for Canadian Press
Martin Steinberg for Associated Press
Randy Ludlow in the Columbus Dispatch
Wikipedia article
The official Earl Wild website

Earl Wild playing Liszt's Le Leggierezza:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:55 AM

    LOVE Earl Wild... So sorry to see this.

    This blog entry reminds me of something that happened back when I was in high school. I was looking for a new piano teacher and one of the people I went to have a test lesson with recited a list of teachers he had worked with. "I studied with so-and-so who worked with so-and-so who worked with..." and eventually he ended with "who studied with Liszt who studied with Czerny who studied with BEETHOVEN!" (with great drama and delivery on this note).

    Neither I nor my mother who was along with me knew very much about classical music at that time and after an awkward pause she asked him, "So does all of that mean that YOU are a good teacher and player?" Now moving toward the other side of the musical spectrum from podunk, where I was born and had my first experiences, I still think her question is quite valid.

    There is undoubtedly worth in having a varied background and a wide musical experience, working with many people and ideas. Further, I don't mean to detract from Mr. Wild's excellence. However, when I see (or hear) a pedagogy pedigree list like this, it reminds me not only of my childhood experience, but also so much of the stereotypical musician's bio these days. I believe you had a very relevant article about that not long ago!