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‘Crossed the Ocean to See Him.’ American Pianists Studying with Theodor Leschetizky

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

During the latter decades of the 19th century, innumerous young American pianists travelled overseas to attend one of the newly founded music conservatories in Stuttgart, Leipzig, Berlin, and Vienna or to study with renowned teachers like the Weimar based pianist Franz Liszt or the Viennese piano pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky. Indeed, Leschetizky had more than 400 Americans students some of who he taught himself while others were sent over to assistant teachers. In my talk, I will present first findings on the question of why studying with Leschetizky seemed to have appealed to the requirements of American pianists specifically, and in doing this, I will discuss biographical notes, concert programs, and newspaper articles. These documents, many of them newly discovered and digitized, testify not only to Theodor Leschetizky’s lasting impact on the global music scene but also to the expectations and experiences that young American musicians had while on their grand tour to the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

This research is part of a larger project on the issue of how American pianists fared in Berlin, Weimar, and how exactly Anti-American stereotypes that they met with related to German speaking debates on the relationship between past and present, music and business, virtuosity and inwardness, and institutional and private education.