Text Box: PIANIST autographs
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Price: $600.00

FINE CONDITION

CONSTANTIN STERNBERG - PIANIST

Verso autographed Rentz and Schrader of St. Petersburg cabinet photograph.  The cabinet card is signed, For Sternberg from Sternberg, November 19, 1902.

Sternberg (1852 - 1924) is an interesting and complex character in the piano world.  Born in St. Petersburg to a Russian/Estonian/Austrian noble family that claimed roots back to Ghenghis Khan.  With the exception of his first few years, his entire musical education was in Germany.  The young boy was taken to Liszt at the age of eleven in Weimar.  Liszt did not like to take on wunderkinds, so he was sent to Leipzig where he was accepted and enrolled at the Conservatory.  His teachers there were Hauptmann, Moscheles, Reinecke and Richter.  He was hired by a light opera company in Leipzig at the age of fifteen, whilst still a student as their conductor. Having toured with the company as a conductor, he realized he missed the piano he went to Dresden to study with Friedrich Wieck, Clara Schumann’s father.  We it became apparent he was too old to teach Sternberg, he went to Berlin to study with Theodore Kullak at his academy of music. Apparently Kullack saw major potential in Sternberg and worked him very hard and he came to a near breakdown at one point.  Shortly thereafter Kullak sent the young pianist to go see Liszt in Weimar.  Liszt was heading to Rome for one of his frequent visits and took the young pianist with him.  There he received advice and lessons, though the specific amount of time is unknown.  Sternberg left Kullak in 1875 to go on his first tour as a concert pianist through the German speaking world.  The tour led to his appointment as the Court Pianist to the Duke of Mecklenberg.  He retained the position for two years and then left on a world tour throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.  He returned in 1880 to Germany and a command performance before Kaiser Wilhelm I.  In 1880 he received a contract for an American tour and played 152 concerts.  He returned to Germany and was married, though he did not stay there for long, as he was asked by soprano Minnie Hauk to return to America and accompany her on a tour, which he agreed to do.  Sternberg and his wife decided to remain in America and he accepted the directorship of the music school at The Atlanta Female Institute and Musical School replacing Adelina Patti’s pianist nephew Alfredo Barili who had opened his own school in that city.  Atlanta was a growing community which had rebuilt after the Civil War, but until Barili arrived had been devoid of musical culture save Gilroy’s Band and various travelling opera companies.  Sternberg became one of Atlanta’s most famous citizens and regularly performed concerts and played at large salons.  Living in Atlanta gave him time to compose as he was not on the road as much and his wife also taught at the school as well.  He also wrote a book on piano pedagogy and edited a two volume set of books on Russian piano music.  He left Atlanta in 1890 and founded The Sternberg School of Music in Philadelphia.  “Musical America” shortly thereafter labelled him the “greatest pianist” in the city.  Among Sternberg’s pupil’s in Philadelphia was the composer George Antheil, composer Robert Armbruster, harpist Mary Warfel and pianist John Thompson. He taught there for the remainder of his life.

Sternberg and Josef Hofmann were great friends and the pianist dedicated his Concert Etude #2 to Hofmann.  There is a spectacular recording of the 3rd Concert Etude by Hofmann on records. Many of his other solo piano pieces can be found on Youtube.

One of the early great European pianists to settle in America!  What is interesting about this photograph is he obviously made a return trip to Russia later on in his life. We could not find any accounts of said trip.