Lhévinne, Josef, celebrated Russian pianist and pedagogue, husband of Rosina Lhévinne (née Bessie); b. Orel, Dec. 13, 1874; d. N.Y., Dec. 2, 1944. After some preliminary study in his native town, he was taken to Moscow, and entered Safonov’s piano class at the Cons. (1885). At the age of 15, he played the Emperor Concerto, with Anton Rubinstein conducting; he graduated in 1891. Lhévinne won the Rubinstein Prize in 1895. He taught piano at the Tiflis Cons. (1900–1902), and then at the Moscow Cons. (1902–06). During this period, he also toured Europe. He made his American debut in N.Y. with the Russian Sym. Orch., conducted by Safonov (Jan. 27, 1906); afterward he made numerous concert tours in America. He lived mostly in Berlin from 1907 to 1919; was interned during World War I, but was able to continue his professional activities. In 1919 he returned to the U.S.; appeared in recitals, and with major American orchs.; also in duo recitals with his wife, whom he married in 1898. They established a music studio, where they taught numerous pupils; also taught at the Juilliard Graduate School in N.Y. (from 1922). He publ. Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing(Philadelphia, 1924). Lhévinne’s playing was distinguished not only by its virtuoso quality, but by an intimate understanding of the music, impeccable phrasing, and fine gradations of singing tone. He was at his best in the works of the Romantic school, his performances of the concertos of Chopin and Tchaikovsky being particularly notable.
R. Wallace, A Century of Music-Making: The Lives of], and Rosina L(Bloomington, Ind., 1976).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire