The Music Treasury for 15 September 2019 — Leonard Shure, Piano

by | Sep 14, 2019 | Streams and Podcasts | 0 comments

The Summer broadcast time of The Music Treasury on KZSU 90.1 FM remains Sunday, from 19:00 to 21:00 PDT.  You can also listen online at during the broadcast time.

This week’s show, hosted by Dr Gary Lemco, features the 20th century pianist Leonard Shure, performing solo works, chamber music, and a piano concerto.  The following notes adapted from Wikipedia.

Leonard Shure, piano

Leonard Shure (1910-1995) graduated from the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin in 1927, at which time he made his debut in Germany. He served as Schnabel’s first and only assistant until 1933.

Shure returned to the United States in 1933 and made his first concert appearance in New York City with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitsky conducting. He was a featured soloist with virtually every major symphony orchestra in the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, and on numerous occasions,  the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of George Szell.

In 1941 Shure became the first pianist to perform at the Berkshire Music Festival in Tanglewood, when he appeared there with Dr. Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1946 he performed the complete Beethoven sonata cycle with violinist Henri Temianka at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. He also performed with such eminent conductors as William Steinberg, Leonard Bernstein and Dimitri Mitropoulos. In 1979 Shure made a successful tour of the Soviet Union.

Shure taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Texas, Boston University, and the Mannes School of Music in New York. In the summers of 1966 and 1967, Shure gave the first applied music courses ever offered at Harvard University. He spent two summers at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem, and four summers in Aspen, Colorado. Late in life, Shure was a member of the faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Our featured guest on tonight’s program will be pianist Beth Levin (b. 1950). Debuting as a child prodigy with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age twelve, Levin was subsequently taught and guided by legendary pianists Leonard Shure, Rudolf Serkin, and Dorothy Taubman. Another of her teachers, Paul Badura-Skoda, praised her as “a pianist of rare qualities and the highest professional caliber.” Her deep well of experience allows an intuitive connection to the great pianistic traditions, to Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.

As a freshly minted performer, Levin undertook years of travel, both within the United States and abroad. Branching out into many performing roles, she appeared as a soloist, chamber music participant, and concerto soloist. As an artist in the “Music From Marlboro” program (an offshoot of the Marlboro Music School and Festival and the Curtis Institute), Levin worked with pianist Paul Badura-Skoda, violinist Sandor Vegh, founder of the renowned Vegh Quartet, and bassist Julius Levine,. She appeared in other chamber music venues, accompanying Raphael Hillyer of the Juilliard Quartet and flutist Paula Robison. Still in her early 20s, Levin appeared as piano concerto performer with the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by Arthur Fiedler, the Seattle Symphony led by American musician and conductor Milton Katims, and the Boston Philharmonic led by Benjamin Zander. European travel led Levin to Spain, Iceland, Serbia, and Turkey. In Iceland, where she continues to appear yearly as soloist, she founded and played for 10 years with Trio Borealis as well as with members of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. She traveled throughout Spain as a member of the trio. She gave master classes in Serbia and Turkey under the aegis of the U.S. State Department.

Among Levin’s recordings are A Single Breath: Beethoven’s Last Three Piano Sonatas (Navona Records, 2013), Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations (Centaur Records, 2011) and Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Centaur Records, 2008). “Revelatory”, commented Richard Brody in The New Yorker on Levin’s approach to the Beethoven sonatas, adding that the pianist had “conveyed the sense of being in the vicariously conjured presence of Beethoven himself.” [Adapted from Wikipedia and other sources]

Who remembers Leonard Shure? Certainly his students, who often quaked under his critical savagery. Your Music Treasury host, Gary Lemco, once attended a master class in Texas, and noted that the more gifted pianists were generally ignored in favor of a merciless assault on the less talented. As an artist and former Schnabel student and teaching assistant, Shure’s playing was of a rough-hewn force and a brutal intensity that made it clear that he had little time for easy glamour, theatricality or preening self-interest. He was essentially a musician first and a pianist second.

Chopin: 3 Preludes from Op. 28: Nos. 22-24
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101
Beethoven: Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 12, No. 2 (w/H. Temianka)
Schubert: Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958: Adagio
Schumann: Fantasia in C Major, Op. 17: Third Movement
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: Rondo (w/L. Bernstein)

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