Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
Who was he?
A Polish pianist who left Europe after WWI, settling in the US.
What makes him great?
His interpretations of the music of Chopin, to which he brought a glowing tone and endless variety of phrasing. Roger Woodward on sharing the legacy of Rubinstein “When I was studying at the Chopin National Academy in Warsaw, our class sometimes met Professor Drzewiecki’s illustrious friends, one of whom was Arthur Rubinstein. He played for us and some students had the privilege of playing for him. Everybody in the class knew his recordings, as they were the classical Chopin interpretations that Drzewiecki had taught us. Grace, poise and thorough research were the hallmarks of his art, one that showed mastery but also enormous modesty and, contrary to what some ‘authorities’ had to say, a flawless technique. "Rubinstein’s critics, and there were many, tended to forget how thorough he was in researching the repertoire he played. Where others posed and only pretended they had researched their subject, Rubinstein’s performances reeked of integrity. "The earliest of Rubinstein’s three complete Mazurka recordings provided a high point for us in our study of Chopin, although for me it was his performances of the Nocturnes that provided the key to all other Chopin. I remain eternally grateful to Rubinstein for his recordings and what he had to say about them. "Rubinstein was not blessed with the sheer virtuosity of Rachmaninov or Horowitz, but he developed a mastery of legato cantabile and tempo rubato second to none. This is evident in such miraculous pre-war ‘live’ performances as his historic recording of the Chopin Piano Concertos with Sir John Barbirolli, although his performances of the same with Witold Rowicki were even more beautiful – completely unforgettable. "I will never forget his kindness and generosity to our class, and his charm, modesty and scrupulous research. Although I remain a student all my life and continue to