Bachauer, Gina

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1913-05-21
Death 1976-08-22
Greeks

Biographical notes:

Gina Bachauer (1913-1976) was a world renowned Greek pianist who performed many times with the Utah Symphony.

Gina Bachauer was born May 21, 1913, in Athens, Greece. She began piano lessons at age five after attending a concert of Emil Sauer. When she was nine years old, the Polish pianist Woldemar Freeman settled in Greece and after hearing her play took her on as a student. She worked seriously with him until she finished her studies at the Athens Conservatory when she was sixteen years old, winning the Gold Medal in 1929.

Woldemar Freeman wanted her to go to Paris to work with Cortot, and to learn the ways of French music. Her parents paid for her to attend the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where she studied for three years under Alfred Cortot. During her studies, she met Sergei Rachmaninoff, from whom she received virtually the only lessons he taught after his self-imposed exile from Russia.

When Bachauer's funds ran out, she returned to Greece to try to make a living as a pianist. Her debut in 1935 with the Athens Orchestra under Mitropoulos did not launch her performing career as she had hoped, so she taught at the Athens Conservatory until she had saved up enough money to embark on a concert tour of Europe. However, World War II broke out during her tour, and she was left stranded in Cairo for its duration. Bachauer became a "kind of pianist-in-ordinary" for the Allied troops in the area, playing roughly 630 recitals in camps and hospitals. While in Egypt, she also married John Christodoulo, who died suddenly in 1950.

After the war, Bachauer traveled to London where she was introduced to orchestra conductor Alec Sherman, who engaged her as a soloist. The two eventually married, and Sherman gave up part of his career to become her manager, saying there are many conductors, but only one Gina Bachauer.

Bachauer's London debut was at the Albert Hall in 1947, and her New York debut was at Carnegie Hall in 1950. She also gave the first solo recital, as Founding Artist, in Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center. She maintained a demanding concert schedule, playing 110 to 120 concerts a year on six-month tours alternating between the USA and the rest of the world.

Gina Bachauer was often regarded as the greatest female pianist of the twentieth century. A student of Cortot and Rachmaninoff, she enjoyed a long and successful performing career, and wooed the toughest of critics with her Romantic repertoire. She developed a close bond with the people of Utah and performed frequently with the Utah Symphony under Maurice Abravanel. On one occasion, Bachauer played with the Symphony accompanied by her pupil, Her Royal Highness Princess Irene of the Hellenes. She helped make their first international tour a reality in 1966 when the symphony traveled to Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, and England. Due to this bond, her legacy lives on in Utah in the form of the Gina Bachauer Archives and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation.

Gina Bachauer died in Athens on August 22, 1976. Brigham Young University was the first home of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition.

From the guide to the Gina Bachauer papers, 1898, 1928-1989, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

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Subjects:

  • Music
  • Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Occupations:

  • Performer

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