Arrau, Claudio León (1903–1991)

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Arrau, Claudio León (1903–1991)

Claudio León Arrau (b. 6 February 1903; d. 9 June 1991), Chilean pianist. Early recognized as a prodigy, Arrau became one of the most accomplished Latin American musicians of the twentieth century. As a youth from Chillán, Arrau was sent on a grant from the Chilean government to study at the prestigious Julius Stern Conservatory in Berlin under the tutelage of Martin Krause from 1912 until 1918. During his tenure in Germany he earned numerous honors, including the Liszt and Ibach prizes. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Arrau toured Europe and the Americas before settling in the United States after the outbreak of World War II.

Arrau was known for his slow tempos and lack of ostentation, a style that emphasized the inherent beauty of the music rather than the skill of the musician. In 1935, Arrau played a series of recitals in Berlin featuring the complete keyboard works of Bach. After this performance, he announced that he would no longer publicly perform any Bach, as he felt the piano could not do the composer justice.

In later years, Arrau brought his talents to Japan, Australia, and Israel, and recorded distinctive versions of major works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and others. He received many honors, including the UNESCO International Music Prize, and was named a commander in the French Legion of Honor. The cities of Santiago and Chillán both contain streets bearing Arrau's name.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Joseph Horowitz, Conversations with Arrau (1982).

Ingo Harden, Claudio Arrau (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Conversations with Arrau was republished in 1999 with a new title. Horowitz, Joseph. Arrau on Music and Performance. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1999.

Montero, Luis Merino. Claudio Arrau: 100 años. Santiago de Chile: Universidad de Bio-Bio, 2004.

                                         John Dudley