BBC Music Magazine

Artur Schnabel

(1882 – 1951)

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The Austrian-born pianist always harboured a desire to compose, but his seemingly natural gift for the piano meant his family encouraged his performing.

His talent was such that he was teaching others in Vienna by the age of 16. A move to Berlin, where he scraped a living, eventually saw his star rise. WWII put pay to a life in Europe and Schnabel relocated to the United States in 1939. Though he had struggled to find a following, the complete recordings of Beethoven’s sonatas he made from 193539 preceded him and helped his reputation. In the US he performed, taught and composed. His own music, distinctly modernist, is in stark contrast to that for which he was known as a performer.

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