Graff man, Gary
Graff man, Gary
Graff man, Gary, eminent American pianist and music educator; b. N.Y., Oct. 14, 1928. He began playing the piano at a very early age and, when he was only 7, he was accepted as a student of Isabelle Vengerova at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (graduated, 1946). At 8, he appeared as soloist with Sevitzky and the Philadelphia Chamber String Sinfonietta. In 1946 he won the first regional Rachmaninoff Competition, which secured for him his first engagement with the Philadelphia Orch. under Ormandy’s direction as soloist in Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto on March 28, 1947. In 1947-48 he was a scholarship student at Columbia Univ. He made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in N.Y. on Dec. 27, 1948. After winning the Leventritt Award in 1949, he went to Europe on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950. In 1951 he made his first tour of the U.S. Following additional studies with Horowitz in N.Y. and Serkin in Marlboro, Vt, he made his first tour of South America in 1955, followed by debut appearances in Europe in 1956, Asia and Australia in 1958, and South Africa in 1961. As a soloist, he was engaged by most of the leading orchs., and he also gave recitals in the principal music centers. His performances and recordings of concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev were particularly acclaimed by the public and critics alike. In 1979 his renowned career was tragically imperiled when he injured a finger of his right hand. In 1980 he joined the faculty of the Curtis Inst. of Music, where he was successively named artistic director in 1986, director in 1989, and president in 1995. He also pursued a successful career as a virtuoso in the left-hand piano repertoire, playing works by Strauss, Schmidt, Ravel, Korngold, Prokofiev, and Britten. On Feb. 4, 1993, he was soloist in the premiere of Rorem’s 4th Piano Concerto for Left-Hand and Orch. with the Curtis Inst. of Music Sym. Orch. conducted by Previn. With Leon Fleischer, he gave the premiere of Bolcom’s Gaea for Piano, 2 Left-Hands, and Orch. with Zinman and the Baltimore Sym. Orch. on April 13, 1996. Graff man is the author of the entertaining memoir I Really Should Be Practicing (Garden City, N.Y, 1981).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire