Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gilels was born in Odessa in 1916 to a musical family; both his parents were musicians. He began studying the piano at 6, making his first public debut at the age of 13 in 1929. In 1930 Gilels entered the Odessa Conservatory where he was coached by Berta Reingbald, whom Gilels credited as his first formulative influence.
In 1933 Gilels won the newly-founded All Soviet Union Piano Competition at age 17. 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 22, he won the Ysa˙e 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 First Piano Concerto in Philadelphia. He taught as a professor for the Moscow Conservatoire after 1952. In his late days he remained in his native Russia and rarely ventured abroad.
Gilels was the dedicatee of Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No 8 and he also premiered its first performance on December 29, 1944.
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 in 1985 in Moscow.
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, Op. 30 (cond. Cluytens)*
1958 - Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat, Op. 83 (cond. Reiner)
1954 - Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 2 in g, Op. 22 (cond. Cluytens)*
1957 - Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 (cond. Ludwig)
1957 - Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp, Op. 30*
1968 - Medner: Piano Sonata No. 10 in a, Op. 38/1
1972 - Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G, Op. 44 (cond. Maazel)
1973 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in f, Op. 57 "Appassionata"
1973 - Debussy: Images, Book 1*
1973 - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat, k595 (cond. Boehm)
1974 - Grieg: Lyric Pieces
1974 - Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B-flat, Op. 84
1978 - Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in b, Op. 58
1982 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat, Op. 106 "Hammerklavier"
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