Tagliaferro, Magda (1893–1986)

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Tagliaferro, Magda (1893–1986)

Brazilian-French pianist, especially known for her performances of Fauré, who concertized into her 90s. Name variations: Magda Tagliafero. Born in Petropolis, Brazil, on January 19, 1893; died in Rio de Janeiro on September 9, 1986; her father was a French pianist of note.

Magda Tagliaferro was born in 1893 in Petropolis, Brazil, where her father, later a pianist of note, had been sent to as an engineer on a French government mission. She began her studies in Brazil and moved to Paris in 1906. In 1907, she won a first prize in the class of her teacher Antonin Marmontel. Another teacher, Alfred Cortot, helped the young pianist technically and artistically, and her Paris recital debut in 1908 was a success. In 1910, she accompanied the composer Gabriel Fauré on a tour, playing his Ballade with him at a second piano. Tagliaferro had one of the longest musical careers in history—over 75 years—and was still able to delight audiences when she was in her 90s. Her devotion to the delicate and fastidious music of Fauré never waned. In 1929, she made the first recording of his Ballade for Piano and Orchestra. In 1981, she made her last recording, in digital sound, of the same Ballade in its two-piano version (with Daniel Varsano). In 1939, the French government sponsored her on an extended tour of the Americas; she remained in the United States during World War II, resuming her career in Paris in 1949. Critics agreed that her performances of Fauré's aristocratic music were permeated with elegance and warmth. Her 1983 Carnegie Hall recital captivated listeners and critics with superbly clear articulation and phrasing. She also championed the works of living composers. In 1929, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos dedicated his Momoprecoce for Piano and Orchestra to her, and she gave the premiere performance. She often included the music of the Venezuelan-born French composer Reynaldo Hahn in her programs and made a recording of his Piano Concerto in the 1930s. Throughout her career, she performed Hahn's charming Sonatina. Her students included Wladyslaw Kedra and Cristina Ortiz .


Dubal, David. The Art of the Piano. NY: Summit, 1989.

Slonimsky, Nicolas, ed. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. 8th ed. NY: Schirmer, 1992.

Tagliaferro, Magda. Quase tudo. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1979.

Timbrell, Charles. French Pianism: An Historical Perspective. White Plains, NY: Pro/Am Music Resources, 1992.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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