Reisenberg, Nadia

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REISENBERG, NADIA (1904–1983), U.S. concert pianist and piano teacher. Born in Vilna, Lithuania, Reisenberg moved with her family to St. Petersburg in 1915, where she studied piano at the Conservatory under Leonid Nikolaiev. After the Russian revolution, the family moved, eventually arriving in America in 1922. Under the helpful largesse of Isaac Sherman, Nadia gave private recitals and began to build a reputation. She gave her American debut concert to strong reviews in late 1922 and in 1924 began touring.

Reisenberg possessed a brilliant technique and her audiences were won over by the depth of her musicianship, diverse repertoire, strength and agility, and convincing and serious interpretations.

She married Isaac Sherman, an economist, in 1924, and they had two sons; Reisenberg credited the successful balancing of her concert career and raising a family to having "complete cooperation and understanding" from her husband. In 1930, she began studies with Josef Hoffman at the Curtis Institute, receiving a diploma in 1935 and teaching there from 1934 to 1938. She also taught at Mannes College, Queens College, cuny, and the Juilliard School; in the 1960s she gave master classes at the Rubin Academy in Israel. Reisenberg focused significant attention on chamber music, which she considered "her first and real love in this world." She often concertized with the Budapest Quartet, or soloists such as cellist Joseph Schuster and violinists William Kroll and Erick Friedman.

In 1939–40, Reisenberg amazed radio listeners by performing the complete Mozart Piano Concertos in a cycle of weekly broadcasts, which she called "the most rewarding experience of my career, my private year with Mozart." Arthur Rubinstein said of this series, "She played brilliantly and I admired her very greatly."

Reisenberg toured with orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic under John Barbirolli, and was the first soloist to play twice in one season with that orchestra, in 1941. Nadia often played premieres of Russian composers, and frequently included newer compositions on her programs, although she did not like "ultra-modern" 20th century music. She also recorded for commercial labels. Reisenberg's last solo recital was at Carnegie Hall on November 21, 1947, though she still gave some concerts, such as a benefit for Israeli children at Carnegie Hall in 1948. In general, after 1950, she focused on teaching, becoming a beloved, sympathetic instructor with deep personal interest in all her students.

[Judith S. Pinnolis (2nd ed.)]