Track 9: Franz Liszt: Les Cloches du Geneve (Years of Pilgrimage: First Year: Switzerland)
from CRQ 455 GRIGORY GINZBURG PLAYS ANTON RUBINSTEIN AND FRANZ LISZT
released April 27, 2021
(1904 - 1961)
Ginzburg’s first piano teacher was his mother, with whom he studied before entering the music school in his home town of Nizhny Novgorod. His parents took their five-year-old son to Moscow to play for the great pianist and teacher Alexander Goldenweiser, with whose wife Anna he studied initially; but at the age of twelve he went to Goldenweiser himself and studied with him for eight years, graduating from the Moscow Conservatory with the Gold Medal.
From 1921 Ginzburg worked as a pianist for the Proletarian Cultural and Educational Organisation and three years later was appointed to the staff of the Scriabin Institute. His six years as a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory from 1929 led to a full professorship in 1935 which Ginzburg held until his death in 1961. In 1922 Ginzburg made his professional debut with the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat by Liszt, a composer with whom he would become most associated throughout his career; and toured Russia, the Ukraine and the Northern Caucasus. Ginzburg was also associated with the music of Chopin and gave his first recital entirely of Chopin in 1926, the following year entering the first Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He received fourth prize (the first prize going to Lev Oborin) and immediately toured Poland. He returned there in 1936 and also played in Switzerland and Sweden. After World War II Ginzburg was giving around 120 concerts a year as well as teaching at the Conservatory; at this time he was awarded the State Prize of the USSR and became an Honoured Art Worker of the RSFSR.
In 1956 Ginzburg decided to give more concerts and teach less. He played in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia; but had already suffered mild heart attacks, and the pressure of these final tours, including a projected one of Poland, probably hastened his death at the age of fifty-seven in 1961; it was in this same year that Goldenweiser, who had been born in 1875, a generation before Ginzburg, also died.
A virtuoso pianist whose repertoire was based around Liszt, Ginzburg also ranged from Mozart through to Soviet composers of the day. He excelled in performing operatic paraphrases and transcriptions by Liszt and played the two large works in this genre based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro (finished by Busoni) along with many others based on the music of Bellini, Verdi, Gounod and Tchaikovsky. He usually played Bach in arrangements by Busoni and Godowsky, but along with the Russian Romantics he also played Grieg, Chopin and Schumann. His Russian repertoire included Anton Rubinstein, Scriabin, Medtner, Myaskovsky, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev. During his days of study with the Goldenweisers, Ginzburg met many of these composers including Scriabin, Rachmaninov and Medtner.
Jonathan Summers (from the Naxos A-Z of Pianists, published by Naxos International)