Schnabel, Artur

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Artur Schnabel was an Austrian pianist and teacher whose performances and recordings made him a legend in his own time and a model of scholarly musicianship to all later pianists. He lived in Berlin from 1900 and was a leading piano teacher at the State Academy of Music in Berlin from 1925 to 1933. Schnabel lived in the United States from 1939 until after World War II, when he returned to Switzerland. He specialized in the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Schubert. As a composer Schnabel was influenced by his contemporary Arnold Schoenberg. Schnabel's thoughts on music were published as REFLECTIONS ON MUSIC (1933) and MUSIC AND THE LINE OF MOST RESISTANCE (1942).

From the description of Music and the line of most resistance, by Artur Schnabel : manuscript, 1942. (Peking University Library). WorldCat record id: 156055912

Austrian pianist and composer, later naturalized American.

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : [Berlin] June 13 1929, to Herr [Hermann] Scherchen, 1929 June 13. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270668924

From the description of Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, 25 Dec. 1941, to Miss Behrens, 1941 Dec. 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270668920

Artur Schnabel (b. Apr. 17, 1882, in Lipnik; d. Aug. 15, 1951, in Axenstein, Switzerland) was an Austrian-born American pianist, pedogogue, and composer.

From the description of Artur Schnabel collection, 1899-1950. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 748292130

Biographical Note

Artur Schnabel was one of the greatest pianists and pedagogues in the history of musical performance. As a performer, Schnabel eschewed virtuosity in favor of musicianship – indeed, he considered himself a musician foremost, and the piano simply his creative medium – and his sound recordings consistently demonstrate interpretations of sensitivity, commitment, and distinction. He was one of the first pianists to champion new and unfamiliar repertoire (such as the piano sonatas of Franz Schubert), and the first pianist to record the complete sonatas and concerti of Ludwig van Beethoven. As a pedagogue, Schnabel is probably best known for his meticulously annotated performing edition of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, through which countless pianists were introduced to these foundations of the piano repertoire; this edition is in common use even today. Lesser known are Schnabel’s original musical compositions – his uncompromising atonal musical language continues to pose formidable challenges to performers, conductors and listeners – and his contribution to musical scholarship through his autobiography ( My Life and Music, 1961), his two books on the role of music in the twentieth century ( Reflections on Music, 1934 and Music and the Line of Most Resistance, 1942), and through the several articles he contributed to musical journals throughout his life.

Schnabel’s student and confidante, Mary Virginia Foreman Le Garrec (born 1908), donated her collection of correspondence, musical scores, writings, concert programs, press clippings, publications, photographs, and other memorabilia related to Schnabel, to the Library in 1997.

  • 1882, April 17: Artur Schnabel born, Lipnik, Carpathia, Austria
  • 1888: Began piano studies with Hans Schmitt
  • 1889 or 1890: Gave first public concert in Vienna
  • 1891: Began piano studies with Leschetitzky in Vienna
  • 1896: Won prizes for three of his works for solo piano in composition competition organized by Leschetitzky
  • 1897: Graduated from Leschetitzky’s class; received first prize
  • 1898: Moved to Berlin to begin his professional career Met contralto Therese Behr (b. 1876), a “lieder singer of repute”
  • 1905: Married Therese Behr (died 1959), they gave intermittent concerts together for the next twenty-five years, performing together primarily throughout Germany and Scandinavia
  • 1908, April 5: Mary Virginia Foreman born, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1921: Schnabel made first recital tour of United States
  • 1922: Schnabel made second recital tour of United States
  • 1925 - 1933 : Schnabel became professor, piano, Berlin Hochschule für Musik
  • circa 1925 - circa 1933 : Schnabel performed in recital series with violinist Carl Flesch
  • 1927: Schnabel performed Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas in one season in Berlin, in celebration of the centenary of the composer’s birth
  • 1932 - 1935 : Schnabel recorded Beethoven's thirty-two piano sonatas and five piano concerti for the British firm HMV
  • 1933, Nov. 2: Schnabel and Foreman met, Minneapolis (Schnabel was visiting studio of Foreman's piano teacher) Schnabel was guest soloist with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (Eugene Ormandy conducted)
  • 1933, Nov. 3: Schnabel performed Beethoven’s Concerto no. 3, op. 37, at the University of Minnesota’s Cyrus Northrup Memorial Hall Foreman attended concert with her mother (at Schnabel’s insistence, Foreman remained backstage with Schnabel for the concert’s second half, after having delivered sandwiches to him)
  • 1933: Schnabel left Germany and settled in Lake Como, Italy, where he lived for the remainder of his life
  • 1934 Sept.: Foreman moved to New York City after accepting parents' offer to study piano for one year with Edwin Hughes (she resided at the Three Arts Club at 340 West 85th Street)
  • 1934: Schnabel published Reflections on Music. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1935 Jan.: Schnabel performed at Carnegie Hall in New York Schnabel and Foreman were reacquainted after the concert; Schnabel recognized her from earlier meeting in Minneapolis
  • 1935, Jan. 16: Foreman began a correspondence with Schnabel which would last until his death in 1951
  • 1935: Schnabel published his edition of complete piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, in two volumes (over 800 pages). New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1936: Schnabel performed thirty-two sonatas of Beethoven on “7 Wednesday nights in Carnegie Hall”
  • 1940 - 1945 : Schnabel became professor, University of Michigan
  • 1942: Schnabel published Music and the Line of Most Resistance. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press (his thoughts on music and musical esthetics)
  • 1944: Schnabel became a naturalized American citizen
  • 1945: Schnabel returned to home in Lake Como, Italy
  • 1946, Dec. 13: Première performance of Symphony no. 1, by Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos (this difficult and atonal work would be the only one of Schnabel's four symphonies to be performed during his lifetime) Schnabel appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s Concerto no. 4 in the same concert
  • 1948, Dec. 11: Schnabel suffered near-fatal heart attack that left him bedridden for nearly four months
  • 1951, Jan. 20: Schnabel's last performance, at Hunter College, New York (of the occasion he wrote, “For the first time I succeeded today in playing the last line of Beethoven’s opus 90 [Sonata] so that I found it convincing”)
  • 1951, Aug. 15: Schnabel died, Grand Hotel in Axenstein, Switzerland
  • 1956 Aug.: Foreman met Yves Le Garrec (born 1890, La Rochelle, France) in Paris
  • 1965: Foreman married Yves Le Garrec (after a period of traveling throughout Europe, they settle in Biarritz, France)
  • 1979 Mar.: Yves Le Garrec died in Biarritz

From the guide to the Mary Virginia Foreman Le Garrec Collection of Artur Schnabel Materials, 1893-1996, (bulk circa 1920-circa 1950), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Biographical Note

Artur Schnabel was one of the greatest pianists and pedagogues in the history of musical performance. As a performer, Schnabel eschewed virtuosity in favor of musicianship – indeed, he considered himself a musician foremost, and the piano simply his creative medium – and his sound recordings consistently demonstrate interpretations of sensitivity, commitment, and distinction. He was one of the first pianists to champion new and unfamiliar repertoire (such as the piano sonatas of Franz Schubert), and the first pianist to record the complete sonatas and concerti of Ludwig van Beethoven. As a pedagogue, Schnabel is probably best known for his meticulously annotated performing edition of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, through which countless pianists were introduced to these foundations of the piano repertoire; this edition is in common use even today. Lesser known are Schnabel’s original musical compositions – his uncompromising atonal musical language continues to pose formidable challenges to performers, conductors and listeners – and his contribution to musical scholarship through his autobiography ( My Life and Music, 1961), his two books on the role of music in the twentieth century ( Reflections on Music, 1934 and Music and the Line of Most Resistance, 1942), and through the several articles he contributed to musical journals throughout his life.

  • 1882, April 17: Born, Lipnik, Carpathia, Austria
  • 1888: Began piano studies with Hans Schmitt
  • 1889 or 1890: Gave first public concert in Vienna
  • 1891: Began piano studies with Leschetitzky in Vienna
  • 1896: Won prizes for three of his works for solo piano in composition competition organized by Leschetitzky
  • 1897: Graduated from Leschetitzky’s class; received first prize
  • 1898: Moved to Berlin to begin his professional career Met contralto Therese Behr (b. 1876), a “lieder singer of repute”
  • 1905: Married Therese Behr (died 1959), they give intermittent concerts together for the next twenty-five years, performing together primarily throughout Germany and Scandinavia
  • 1921: Made first recital tour of United States
  • 1922: Made second recital tour of United States
  • 1925 - 1933 : Professor, piano, Berlin Hochschule für Musik
  • circa 1925 - circa 1933 : Performed in recital series with violinist Carl Flesch
  • 1927: Performed Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas in one season in Berlin, in celebration of the centenary of the composer’s birth
  • 1932 - 1935 : Recorded Beethoven's thirty-two piano sonatas and five piano concerti for the British firm HMV
  • 1933: Left Germany and settled in Lake Como, Italy, where he lived for the remainder of his life
  • 1934: Published Reflections on Music. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1935: Published his edition of complete piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven, in two volumes (over 800 pages). New York: Simon and Schuster
  • 1936: Performed thirty-two sonatas of Beethoven on “7 Wednesday nights in Carnegie Hall”
  • 1940 - 1945 : Professor, University of Michigan
  • 1942: Published Music and the Line of Most Resistance. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press (his thoughts on music and musical esthetics)
  • 1944: Became a naturalized American citizen
  • 1945: Returned to home in Lake Como, Italy
  • 1946, Dec. 13: Première performance of Symphony no. 1, by Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos (this difficult and atonal work would be the only one of Schnabel's four symphonies to be performed during his lifetime) Schnabel appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s Concerto no. 4 in the same concert
  • 1948, Dec. 11: Suffered near-fatal heart attack that left him bedridden for nearly four months
  • 1951, Jan. 20: Last performance, at Hunter College, New York (of the occasion he wrote, “For the first time I succeeded today in playing the last line of Beethoven’s opus 90 [Sonata] so that I found it convincing”)
  • 1951, Aug. 15: Died, Grand Hotel in Axenstein, Switzerland

From the guide to the Artur Schnabel Collection, 1899-1950, (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gérardy, Jean, 1877-1929. Autograph letter signed, dated : Bad Homburg, 26 April 1912, to [Emil] Gutmann, 1912 Apr. 26. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Letter, 1944 Sep. 12, Rociada, N.M., to General Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan
referencedIn The Karl Weigl Papers, 1894-1986 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827. Ludwig van Beethoven [Multimédia multisupport] / Ludwig van Beethoven, comp. ; Arthur Schnabel, Walter Gieseking, Roger Vignoles... [et al.], p. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Mary Van Nes: Correspondence from Germany, 1931-1933 Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Bodanzky, Artur, 1877-1939. Jakob Klein presentation album, 1926-1931. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827. Ludwig van Beethoven [Multimédia multisupport] / Ludwig van Beethoven, comp. ; Arthur Schnabel, Walter Gieseking, Roger Vignoles... [et al.], p. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Artur Schnabel Collection, 1899-1950 Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Rudolf Kolisch papers, 1886-1978. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Theater und Kunst : Vienna. Theater, opera, and concert programs, 1888-1937. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Autograph letter signed, dated : New York, 25 Dec. 1941, to Miss Behrens, 1941 Dec. 25. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Alumni Association (University of Michigan), Individual Photographs, ca. 1880-ca. 1960s Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Alfred Leonard and Joseph Leonard Collection, 1902-2001 University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
referencedIn Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976, (bulk 1924-1951) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Nef, John Ulric, Jr. Papers, 1840-2008 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Le Garrec, Mary Virginia Foreman. Mary Virginia Foreman Le Garrec collection of Artur Schnabel materials, 1893-1996 (bulk circa 1920-circa 1950). Library of Congress
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Artur Schnabel collection, 1899-1950. Library of Congress
creatorOf Szigeti, Joseph, 1892-1973. Joseph Szigeti collection of performance recordings [sound recording], 1941-1963. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Moldenhauer Archives at the Library of Congress, circa 1000-circa 1990 Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Mannes - Damrosch Collection, 1848-1986, (bulk 1900-1950) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Music and the line of most resistance, by Artur Schnabel : manuscript, 1942. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Nef, John U. (John Ulric), 1899-1988. Papers, 1909- [ca. 1970]. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Nef, Elinor Castle. Papers, 1891-1966 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Correspondence to Eugene Ormandy, 1937. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Wolff, Konrad, 1907-1989. Papers, 1879-1990. University of Maryland Libraries, UMD Libraries
creatorOf Leonard, Alfred. Collection of manuscript music, papers, recordings and documents, 1920-1980. University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Philadelphia Orchestra. Transcription of WFLN radio broadcast [sound recording], 1970 August 22. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Van Nes, Mary. Correspondence from Germany, 1931-1933 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn A.P. Schmidt Company. A.P. Schmidt Company archives, 1869-1958 (bulk 1895-1920). Library of Congress
creatorOf Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951. Letters from notable musicians, 1901-1950. University of Michigan
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Letters, to Arnold Schönberg, 1922-1949. University of Michigan
creatorOf Mary Virginia Foreman Le Garrec Collection of Artur Schnabel Materials, 1893-1996, (bulk circa 1920-circa 1950) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Van Nes, Mary. Correspondence from Germany, 1931-1933 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Nef, Elinor Castle, 1894 or 5-1953. Papers, 1865-1956. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Mannes, David, 1866-1959. Mannes - Damrosch collection, 1848-1986 (bulk 1900-1950). Library of Congress
referencedIn Weigl, Karl, 1881-1949. The Karl Weigl Papers. 1894-1986 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Hirschmann, Ira Arthur, 1901-. Papers, 1934-1956 (inclusive). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn National Orchestral Association collection of rehearsal and concert recordings [sound recording], 1938-1968 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Behr-Schnabel, Therese, 1876-1959. Autograph letter signed Therese Schnabel, dated : [London], to Frau [Oscar] Bie, 1929 Feb. 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Schnabel, Artur, 1882-1951. Autograph letter signed, dated : [Berlin] June 13 1929, to Herr [Hermann] Scherchen, 1929 June 13. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Ira Arthur Hirschmann papers, 1934-1956 (inclusive The New York Public Library. Music Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
correspondedWith A.P. Schmidt Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827. person
associatedWith Behrens, Miss, person
associatedWith Behr-Schnabel, Therese, 1876-1959. person
correspondedWith Curzon, Clifford, 1907-1982 person
correspondedWith Firkušný, Rudolf, 1912-1994 person
correspondedWith Fournier, Pierre, 1906-1986 person
associatedWith Gérardy, Jean, 1877-1929. person
associatedWith Hirschmann, Ira Arthur, 1901- person
associatedWith Kolisch, Rudolf, 1896-1978 person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Le Garrec, Mary Virginia Foreman person
associatedWith Le Garrec, Mary Virginia Foreman. person
associatedWith Leonard, Alfred person
associatedWith Leonard, Alfred. person
associatedWith Mannes, David, 1866-1959. person
correspondedWith Mannes, Leopold, 1899-1964 person
associatedWith Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection (Pierpont Morgan Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Mary Van Nes person
correspondedWith Mitropoulos, Dimitri, 1896-1960 person
associatedWith Moldenhauer, Hans. person
associatedWith National Orchestral Association (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Nef, Elinor Castle, 1894 or 5-1953. person
associatedWith Nef, John U. (John Ulric), 1899-1988. person
associatedWith Philadelphia Orchestra. corporateBody
associatedWith Scherchen, Hermann, 1891-1966, person
associatedWith Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951. person
associatedWith Simon. person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Szigeti, Joseph, 1892-1973. person
associatedWith University of Michigan. Alumni Association. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Nes, Mary. person
associatedWith Weigl, Karl, 1881-1949. person
associatedWith Wolff, Konrad, 1907-1989. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Sonatas (Piano)--Analysis, appreciation
Musical criticism
Piano music--Interpretation (Phrasing, dynamics, etc.)
Pianists--United States
Music--Philosophy and aesthetics
Music--Performance
Music--Manuscripts--20th century
Music--Manuscripts
Pianists--Correspondence
Occupation
Performer
Function

Person

Birth 1882-04-17

Death 1951-08-15

Americans

English,

German,

French

Information

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