WEISSENBERG, ALEXIS (Sigismond ; 1929– ), pianist. Weissenberg was born in Sofia. He studied piano with his mother and then with Pancho Vladiguerov. During the German occupation he and his mother were briefly confined in a concentration camp. He was taken to Ereẓ Israel in 1945, where he gave his first performance with an orchestra. In 1946, he entered the Juilliard School of Music as a pupil of Olga Samaroff, and also studied with Arthur *Schnabel and Wanda *Landowska. Having won the Leventritt Award (1947), he made his New York debut with G. *Szell and the New York Philharmonic, and thereafter commenced his American, and later (1951) his European career. He settled in France and in the early 1950s retired from the concert hall in order to study and teach (at the Accademia Chigiana, Siena, where his pupils included Rafael Orozco); he returned only in 1966, with performances in Berlin. From that time he refashioned an important international career as a virtuoso pianist of great (if sometimes eccentric) prowess, noted for his interpretations of Romantic music.
Grove online; Baker's Biographical Dictionary (1997); J. Holcman, "The Tangled Talents of Sigi [Alexis] Weissenberg," in: Pianists, On and Off the Record: The Collected Essays of Jan Holcman (2000), 155–61.
[Max Loppert /
Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]