Leopold Godowsky |

Leopold Godowsky |

Leopold Godowsky

Date of birth
Date of death
composer, pianist

Leopold Godowsky |

Polish pianist, piano teacher, transcriptor and composer. He studied with V. Bargil and E. Rudorf at the Higher School of Music in Berlin (1884) and with C. Saint-Saens (1887-1890) in Paris. He has been giving concerts since childhood (first as a violinist); repeatedly toured Russia (since 1905). In 1890-1900 he taught at the conservatories in Philadelphia and Chicago, then in Berlin; in 1909-1914 the head of the class of higher pianistic skill at the Academy of Music in Vienna (among his students was G. G. Neuhaus). From 1914 he lived in New York. Since 1930, due to illness, he stopped concert activity.

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Godowsky is one of the greatest pianists and masters of transcription art after F. Liszt. His playing was famous for his exceptional technical skill (in particular, the development of left-hand technique), subtlety and clarity in the transfer of structures that are most complex in texture, and rare legato perfection. Godowsky’s transcriptions are very popular among pianists, especially pieces by French harpsichordists J. B. Lully, J. B. Leyet, J. F. Rameau, waltzes by J. Strauss, and also etudes by F. Chopin; they are notable for their sophisticated texture and contrapuntal inventiveness (interlacing of several themes, etc.). Godowsky’s playing and transcriptions had a great influence on the development of piano performance and presentation techniques. He wrote an article on the technique of playing the piano for the left hand – “Piano music for the left hand …” (“Piano music for the left hand …”, “MQ”, 1935, No 3).


for violin and piano – Impressions (Impressions, 12 plays); for piano – sonata e-moll (1911), Java suite (Java-suite), suite for the left hand, Waltz Masks (Walzermasken; 24 pieces in 3/4-measure), Triacontameron (30 pieces, including No 11 – Old Vienna, 1920), Perpetual motion and other plays, incl. for 4 hands (Miniatures, 1918); cadenzas to concertos by Mozart and Beethoven; transcriptions – Sat. Renaissance (16 samples of harpsichord works by J. F. Rameau, J. V. Lully, J. B. Leie, D. Scarlatti and other ancient composers); arr. – 3 violinists. sonatas and 3 suites for cello by J. S. Bach, Op. K. M. Weber Momento Capriccioso, Perpetual Motion, Invitation to Dance, 12 songs, etc. Op. F. Schubert, etudes by F. Chopin (53 arrangements, including 22 for one left hand and 3 “combined” – combining 2 and 3 etudes each), 2 waltzes by Chopin, 3 waltzes by I. Strauss-son (The Life of an Artist , Bat, Wine, Woman and Song), prod. R. Schuman, J. Bizet, C. Saint-Saens, B. Godard, R. Strauss, I. Albeniz and others; ed.: collection of plays fp. pedagogical repertoire in order of increasing difficulty (The progressive series of piano lessons, St. Louis, 1912). Notation: Saxe L. Sp., Published music of L. Godowsky, “Notes”, 1957, No 3, March, p. 1-61.

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