Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rudolf Serkin: Beethoven Sonata No. 31

Rudolf Serkin performs from the first movement of Beethoven Sonata No. 31, in A flat major, opus 110, in a 1987 performance. Ludwig van Beethoven composed the piece in 1821, it the central work in a series of three sonatas that he wrote between 1820 and 1822.

Rudolph Serkin [1903-1991] is one of the many exceptional pianists that came out of post-war Europe and who settled in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1939. This is the first time I am posting any of his performances, an omission on my part, although it is no means the last. With good reason. Serkin is well-known for his thoughtful interpretation of Beethoven. In the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts site, it notes:
With his overwhelming talent and dazzle, Rudolf Serkin has amazed audiences the world over during his long career. His gentle technique has earned him profound respect, and critical acclaim.
Serkin was born in Eger, Bohemia, to Mordko and Augusta Serkin, Russian Jews who had fled the pogroms. He could play the piano and read music by the time he was four years old. Alfred Gruenfeld, the celebrated Viennese pianist, heard young Serkin play and suggested to his parents that they send him to study piano in Vienna under Professor Richard Robert. Serkin studied piano with Robert and composition with Joseph Marx and Arnold Schoenberg.
Although practicing was difficult in a one-room apartment with his seven brothers and sisters, young Serkin ignored the chaos around him and learned to play so well that he made his debut as guest artist with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra when he was only 12. He was invited to tour the continent, but declined in order to continue studying piano. He began his concert career when he turned 17, performing solo and in chamber orchestras. He also played a series of sonatas for piano and violin with Adolf Busch.
You can read the rest of Rudolph Serkin's biography at [The Kennedy Center].


  1. Serkin's performance enables us to hear and feel the unity of this complicated movement.


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