Arthur Rubinstein KBE (January 28, 1887 – December 20, 1982) was a Polish-American pianist and the greatest pianists of the twenthieth
century. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music of a variety of composers.
Rubinstein was born in Łódź, Poland on January 28, 1887, to a Jewish family, the youngest of 8 children. His father was a wealthy factory owner.
At the age of two, he was fascinated with the piano, watching his older sister during her piano lessons. He had demonstrated perfect pitch and
by the age of four, he was recognised as a child prodigy.
The great Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim was greatly impressed upon hearing the four year old play the piano, that he began to mentor
the young prodigy. Rubinstein first studied piano in Warsaw and by the age of ten moved to Berlin and continued his studies there. He gave
his debut performance at the age of 13, with the Berlin Philharmonic, and made appearances in Germany and Poland. His studies continued
under the direction of Karl Heinrich Barth, who was an associate of Franz Liszt, Hans von Bülow, Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms; Barth
also taught Wilhelm Kempff).
In 1904, Rubinstein moved to Paris and it was there that his career blossomed. He met the composers Maurice Ravel and Paul Dukas and the
violinist Jacques Thibaud and performed the Camille Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 in the presence of the composer. Through the family
of Juliusz Wertheim , Rubenstein formed friendships with the violinist Paul Kochanski and ocmposer Karol Szymanowski..
Rubinstein's made his American debut in 1906 at Carnegie Hall after which he toured the continental United States. The reception was
markedly less than desired, according to his own observations and that of his son. A year later he found himself destitute and desperate in a
Berlin hotel room, hounded by creditors and threatened with eviction. He attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself, which thankfully
failed. Subsequently, he said that he felt "reborn" and possessed unconditional love of life.
In 1910, Rubinstein recorded Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10 under the Polish Favorit label, however he was so displeased with the results
that he refused to record again until the advent of electrical recording. He said that the recording made his piano sound "like a banjo".
However, Rubinstein made numerous player piano music rolls for the Aeolian Duo-Art system and the American Piano Company (AMPICO) in
He made his London debut in 1912, and found a new home in Edith Grove,Chelsea musical salon of Paul and Muriel Draper, in company with
Kochanski, Igor Stravinsky, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo Casals, Pierre Monteux and others.
Rubinstein remained in London during World War I, giving recitals and accompanying the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. He embarked on tours of
Spain and South America in 1916 and 1917, and was wildly acclaimed. As a result of those tours, he developed an enthusiam for the music of
Enrique Granados, Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, and Heitor Villa-Lobos, that would last his whole life.. He was the dedicatee of Villa-Lobos's
Rudepoêma and Stravinsky's Trois mouvements de Petrouchka.
Rubenstein was so disgusted with Germany's conduct during the First World War that he refused to ever perform there again. His last
performance in Germany was in 1914.
In the fall of 1919 Rubinstein toured the English Provinces with soprano Emma Calvé and tenor Vladimir Rosing.
Rubenstein gave two American tours In 1921 collaborating with Paul Kochanski and Karol Szymanowski. They remained close friends until
Kochanski's death in 1934.two American tours, travelling to New York with Paul Kochanski (they remained close friends until Kochanski's death
By 1928, Rubinstein began to record extensively under the RCA Victor label, producing a vast number of solo, concerto and chamber music
recordings, and continued to do so until his retirement in 1976. Rubenstein re-recorded much of his repertoire in keeping with technological
improvements: from 78rpm discs, to LPs, and stereophonic recordings, As a result there are often three or more recordings of each of his
works. All of his RCA recordings have been recently been released on compact disc, the total of which amount to about 107 hours of music.
Rubinstein preferred to record in the studio, and during his lifetime only approved for release about three hours of live recordings. However,
since the pianist’s death, several labels have issued live recordings taken from radio broadcasts.
In 1932, the pianist withdrew from concert life for several months. He stated that he neglected his technique in his early years and spent this
period of time immersed in study and practice. In the same year he married a Polish ballerina, Nela Młynarska, who had studied with Mary
Wigman. Nela was the daughter of conductor Emil Młynarski. She had first fallen in love with Rubinstein when she was 18, but when Rubinstein
began dating an Italian princess, she married Mieczysław Munz. They were subsquently divorced and three years later she married Rubinstein.
They had four children, including daughter Eva, who married William Sloane Coffin.. Nela subsequently wrote a book of Polish cookery, Nela's
Cookbook. Rubenstein had many affairs with many other women, before, and during his marriage including Irene Curzon. At the age of 90, he
left his wife for the young Annabelle Whitestone while still married to Nela. They never divorced. Rubinstein also fathered a daughter with a
South American woman.
It was during the Second World War, that Rubenstein's career was centered in the United States. Impresario Sol Hurok urged Rubinstein to call
himself, "Artur" (his Polish birth name) for his American concerts, even though the pianist referred to himself as Arthur when in English-
speaking countries. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1946.
Rubenstein was best known as a recitalist and concerto soloist, but also had an outstanding career as a chamber musician, partnering with
such luminaries as Henryk Szeryng, Jascha Heifetz, Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky, and the Guarneri Quartet. Rubinstein recorded much of
the core piano repertoire, in particular, that of the Romantic composers. When Rubenstein died, the New York Times described him thus:
"Chopin was his specialty ... it was as a Chopinist that he was considered by many without peer."
With the exception of the Études, he recorded most of the works of Chopin. Rubenstein was among those who championed the Spanish and
South American composers, and of French composers, who were, in the early 20th century, still considered "modern", such as Ravel and
Debussy. Moreover, Rubenstein, was the first champion of music of his compatriot Karol Szymanowski. In conversation with Alexander
Scriabin, Rubenstein named Brahms as his favorite composer, a comment that enraged Scriabin.
Rubinstein was fluent in eight languages. Much of his repertoire was recalled from memory, formidable that it was! According to his memoirs,
he learned César Franck’s Symphonic Variations without a piano. At the time he was travelling on a train en route to the concert. Rubinstein
had a photographic memory so acute that he could visualize an errant coffee stain while recalling a score.
By the mid-1970s, Rubinstein's eyesight began to deteriorate and in May 1976, he retired from the stage at age 89. He gave his last concert at
London's Wigmore Hall, where he had first played nearly 70 years before.
Throughout his life, Rubinstein was deeply attached to his homeland Poland. At the inauguration of the United Nations in 1945, Rubinstein
expressed his Polish patriotism at a concert held for the delegates. He stated his deep disappointment that the conference did not have a
delegation from Poland. When he noticed the absence of the Polish flag, he became incensed with blind fury and angrily pointed out the
omission to the audience. He then sat at his piano and played the Polish national anthem loudly and slowly, repeating the final refrain in a great
thunderous forte. When he had finished, the audience rose to their feel giving him a great ovation.
Arthur Rubinstein was reluctant to teach in his earlier life, and had refused William Kapell's request for lessons. Finally in the late 1950s he
accepted his first pupil, Dubravka Tomšič Srebotnjak, and soon others such as François-René Duchâble, Avi Schönfeld, Eugen Indjic, Dean
Kramer, and Marc Laforêt. Rubinstein revealed that his main objective in teaching was to help his pupils to find themselves and for them to
develop real musical personalities. Toward the end of his life, Rubinstein also gave master classes.
"I have found that if you love life, life will love you back..."
"People are always setting conditions for happiness... I love life without condition."
— Arthur Rubinstein
Rubinstein died in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 20, 1982, at the age of 95. His body was cremated. According to his will, on the first
anniversary of his death, an urn holding his ashes was buried in Jerusalem in a dedicated plot. It is called the "Rubinstein Forest" as it
overlooks the Jerusalem Forest. (This was arranged with the consultation of the Rabbis so that the main forest wouldn't fall under religious laws
governing cemeteries.) The Arthur Rubinstein International Music Society was founded in Israel, and hold triennial Arthur Rubinstein
International Piano Master Competitions.
Though he considered himself an agnostic Rubinstein was nevertheless proud of his Jewish heritage. He was a great friend of Israel, having
visited it numerous times with his wife and children. He gave concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, recitals, and master classes at the
Jerusalem Music Centre.
In October 2007, his family donated an extensive collection of original manuscripts, manuscript copies and published editions to the Juilliard
School. These works had been seized by the Nazis during World War II from his Paris residence. Seventy-one items were returned to his four
children. It was the first time that Jewish property kept in the Berlin State Library was returned to the legal heirs.
Sonning Award (1971; Denmark)
On April 1, 1976, Arthur Rubinstein was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford.
In 1977, he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:
Pierre Fournier, Arthur Rubinstein & Henryk Szeryng for Schubert: Trios Nos. 1 in B-flat, Op. 99 and 2 in E-flat, Op. 100 (Piano Trios) (Grammy
Awards of 1976)
Pierre Fournier, Arthur Rubinstein & Henryk Szeryng for Brahms: Trios (Complete)/Schumann: Trio No. 1 in D Minor (Grammy Awards of 1975)
Arthur Rubinstein for Beethoven: Sonatas No. 21 in C (Waldstein) and No. 18 in E-flat (Grammy Awards of 1960)
Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra):
Arthur Rubinstein for 'Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat/Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 (Grammy Awards of 1978)
Arthur Rubinstein for Beethoven: Sonatas No. 21 in C (Waldstein) and No. 18 in E-flat (Grammy Awards of 1960)
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1994)
Chopin - Heroic Polonaise Op. 53 performed by Arthur Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein - Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60
Paganini Rhapsody (Rachmaninoff) - Arthur Rubinstein - (2/2)
Arthur Rubinstein plays "La campanella"