Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Walter Wilhelm Gieseking (November 5, 1895 – October 26, 1956) was a German pianist and composer. Gieseking is said to have been a natural and intuitive pianist. According to legend, he never practiced except in his own mind. He apparently would study the score, imagine playing it, and then perform it flawlessly. His habit of spending hours in total silence as he pored over scores is said to have frustrated his wife to no end.
Born in Lyons in France, Gieseking was largely self-taught as a pianist until he studied at the conservatory in Hanover. He remained in Germany during World War II which led to accusations of collaboration with the Nazi Party. A number of his concerts had to be cancelled because of this before he was cleared of any wrong-doing by an Allied court. He died in London.
Gieseking had a very wide repertoire, ranging from the core works by Ludwig van Beethoven through to more modern works by the likes of Ferruccio Busoni and Arnold Schoenberg. He gave the premiere of the Piano Concerto by Hans Pfitzner in 1923. He is primarily remembered today, however, as his day's foremost interpreter of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
Gieseking was also an amateur lepidopterist. His autobiography, So wurde ich Pianist, was published in 1963.
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