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article imageClaudio Arrau, master Beethoven interpreter and passionate artist

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 9, 2010 in Entertainment
Santiago - Today is the 19th anniversary of the death of Claudio Arrau. The Chilean-American pianist, renowned throughout the world as one of the greatest keyboard masters of the XX century, died in Austria on this date in 1991.
Claudio Arrau has been considered a prodigy and a musical genius. He is regarded by many music critics as a master interpreter of Beethoven and impassioned artist.
Arrau was born in Chillán, Chile, in 1903. He had his debut as a pianist in Santiago at the age of five. By the time he was 10 years old it was clear that no piano teacher in Chile could surpass his technique. In 1912 Arrau was sent to study with Martin Krause at the Stern Konservatorie in Berlin at the expense of the Chilean government.
At the age of 11, he made his formal recital debut in Berlin, starting his career as a solo pianist. In 1922 he made his London debut. He taught in Berlin (1925-40) and later settled in New York. While his reflective interpretations of the Romantic repertory were much admired, his interpretations of Beethoven brought him most international acclaim.
In 1927 he won the International Prize for Pianists in Geneva. He became established as a Bach interpreter in 1935 when completed the entire cycle of Johann Sebastian Bach's keyboard works. Later on, he played a cycle of Beethoven's works in Mexico City in 1938, and did the same with compositions by Mozart and Franz Schubert.
Arrau married soprano Ruth Schneider in 1940 and shortly thereafter left Germany to live in New York City. He and his wife had children after moving to the United States. Although he lived there for years, he did not become a U.S. citizen until 1979.
In February 1941 Arrau played at Carnegie Hall. The New York Times and other papers, including Time Magazine, gave him rave reviews. The following season he played over 100 concerts across the United States and Canada. In 1942 he was invited twice in that same season to play with both the Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.
At the time of his death, at age 88, after undergoing intestinal surgery in Mürzzuschlag, Austria, Arrau was still busy with a tight European concert tour. He was also working on a recording of the complete works of Bach for the keyboard, and was preparing to record music by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Reger among others. His remains were brought back to Chile. He was buried in his native city of Chillán.
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