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Emil Gilels

Emil Gilels Emil Grigoryevich Gilels (Ukrainian: Емі́ль Григо́рович Гі́лельс, Russian: Эмиль Гилельс; October 19, 1916 – October 14, 1985) was a ukrainian soviet pianist.

Gilels was born in Odessa to a musical family; both his parents were musicians. He began studying the piano at six under Yakov Tkach, making his first public debut at the age of 12 in June 1929. In 1930 Gilels entered the Odessa Conservatory where he was coached by Berta Reingbald, whom Gilels credited as his first formative influence.

In 1933 Gilels won the newly-founded All Soviet Union Piano Competition at age 16. After graduating from the Odessa Conservatory in 1935, he moved to Moscow, where he studied under the famous piano teacher Heinrich Neuhaus until 1937. A year later, at age 21, he won the Ysaÿe International Festival in Brussels, beating such competitors as Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Moura Lympany.

Gilels was the first Soviet artist to be allowed to travel extensively in the West. After the war, he toured Europe starting from 1947 as a concert pianist, and made his American debut in 1955 playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Philadelphia. He taught as a professor for the Moscow Conservatory after 1952. In his later years he remained in Russia and rarely ventured abroad.

He was the winner of the prestigious Stalin Prize in 1946, the Order of Lenin in 1961 and 1966 and the Lenin Prize in 1962.

Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 8 was dedicated to Mira Mendelssohn and Gilels premiered it first on December 30, 1944, in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

Gilels was universally admired for his superb technical control and burnished tone. His interpretations of the central German-Austria classics formed the core of his repertoire, in particular Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, but he was equally illuminative in Scarlatti, Bach as well as twentieth-century music like Debussy, Bartók and Prokofiev.

He was in the midst of completing a complete survey of Beethoven's piano sonatas for the German record company Deutsche Grammophon when he died after a medical check-up in 1985 in Moscow. Sviatoslav Richter who knew Gilels quite well reported that he was killed accidentally by the Russian doctor responsible for the check-up.

Recording highlights

* 1935 - Liszt: Fantasia on Themes from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.
* 1951 - Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9.
* 1955 - Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (cond. Cluytens)*.
* 1958 - Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 (cond. Reiner).
* 1954 - Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22 (cond. Cluytens)*.
* 1957 - Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 (cond. Ludwig).
* 1957 - Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 4 in F sharp major, Op. 30*.
* 1968 - Medtner: Piano Sonata No. 10 in A minor, Op. 38 No. 1. ("Sonata Reminiscenza")
* 1972 - Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44 (cond. Maazel).
* 1972 - Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 and Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 (cond. Jochum).
* 1973 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 Appassionata.
* 1973 - Debussy: Images, Book 1*.
* 1973 - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat major, K595 (cond. Boehm).
* 1974 - Grieg: Lyric Pieces.
* 1974 - Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84.
* 1977 - Rachmaninoff, Prelude in C-sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2* (Moscow)
* 1978 - Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58.
* 1982 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 Hammerklavier (Berlin)
* 1984 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106 Hammerklavier* (Moscow)
* 1984 - Scriabin, Third Sonata* (Moscow)

* live.
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