Walter Gieseking

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Gieseking, Walter (Wilhelm)

Gieseking, Walter (Wilhelm), celebrated German pianist; b. Lyons, Nov. 5, 1895; d. London, Oct. 26, 1956. He studied with Karl Leimer at the Hannover Cons., graduating in 1916. In 1912 he made his debut in Hannover, and from 1921 he made tours of Europe. In 1923 he made his British debut in London. He made his American debut at Aeolian Hall in N.Y. on Feb. 22, 1926, and after that appeared regularly in the U.S. and Europe with orchs. and in solo recitals. He became the center of a political controversy when he arrived in the U.S. in 1949 for a concert tour; he was accused of cultural collaboration with the Nazi regime, and public protests forced the cancellation of his scheduled performances at Carnegie Hall in N.Y. However, he was later cleared by an Allied court in Germany and was able to resume his career in America. He appeared again at a Carnegie Hall recital on April 22, 1953, and until his death continued to give numerous performances in both hemispheres. He was one of the most extraordinary pianists of his time. A superb musician capable of profound interpretations of both Classical and modern scores, his dual German-French background enabled him to project with the utmost authenticity the masterpieces of both cultures. He particularly excelled in the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms; his playing of Debussy and Ravel was also remarkable; he was also an excellent performer of works by Prokofiev and other modernists. He composed some chamber music and made piano transcriptions of songs by Richard Strauss. His autobiography, So Wurde ich Pianist, was publ. posth. in Wiesbaden (1963).


B. Gavoty, G. (Geneva, 1955).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Walter Gieseking (väl´tər gē´zəkĬng), 1895–1956, German pianist, b. Lyons, France, grad. Hanover Municipal Conservatory, 1916. He began touring Europe in 1920 and made his American debut in 1926. A brilliant pianist with a wide repertoire, he especially excelled in performing the music of Debussy. In 1939 he returned to Germany, eventually being cleared of the charge of Nazi collaboration.

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Gieseking, Walter (Wilhelm) (b Lyons, 1895; d London, 1956). Ger. pianist. Début 1912 followed by int. tours. London début 1923. NY 1926, Paris 1928. Salzburg Fest. 1939. Renowned for playing of Debussy and Ravel, but also for Beethoven and Brahms. Comp. pf. pieces and songs.