Text Box: PIANIST autographs


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One page autographed letter of recommendation for pianist Maria Grinberg, August, 1960.



Maria Israilevna Grinberg is so famous and so talented pianist, I think it doesn’t make sense to give my “opinion”. The perfection of her art, richness of her repertoire, incomparable style and other highest qualities, gives me assurance she is one of the best pianists of our country and our time. If she decided to devote herself to teaching, she should start her new career with a title Professor. Who she was a long time ago. And all formalities must be avoided and I hope this formal problem will be solved without any delay.


VIII -60  Peoples’ Artist of the RSFSR(Russian Federation)

H. Neuhaus


Neuhaus (1888-1964) came from a family of musicians and they all participated in his piano studies.  His father Gustav Neuhaus was his first teacher, followed by his uncle Felix Blumenfeld and his cousin, Karol Szymanowski.  He also consulted with Artur Rubinstein.  He was a wunderkind and made his first public appearance at the age of nine.  At 16 he made his first European tour in Germany.  He then spent time studying composition with Paul Juon in Berlin and in Vienna from 1912-1914 with Leopold Godowsky.  His lessons with Godowsky were curtailed due to the outbreak of World War I.  He returned to Russia in 1914 and taught in his hometown of Elizavetgrad. After the War he taught at the Kiev Conservatory (1918-1922). From 1922 until his death, he was the leading piano professor at the Moscow Conservatory, where he was the Director from 1934-1937.  His pupils included: Sviatoslav Richter, Gerard Fremi, Emil Gilels, Anton Ginzberg, Julian Gutman, Tamara Guseva, Tikhon Khrennikov, Vladimir Krajnev, Yevgeny Liberman, Radu Lupu, Yevgeny Malinin, Lev Naumov, Nina Svetlanova, Yakov Zak and Isaac Zetel among others.


As a performing artist, Neuhaus initially was not as sure of himself as he should have been.  In 1912, after hearing his friend Artur Rubinstein perform the 2nd Szymanowski Concerto, he became despondent as he did not have faith in his skills.  He actually fled to Florence where he attempted suicide with both Rubinstein and Szymanowski hot on his trail to stop him.  After his studies with Godowsky, that all changed and he was in regular demand as a concert artist in Russia.  Today there are several films of him performing both in concert and in master classes he led.  There are also numerous recordings, with quite a bit in the German romantic repertory, though he was also admired for his interpretations of, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Scriabin.


This is the only Neuhaus letter we have encountered in the past 20 years and it is outstanding.  Maria Grinberg (1908-1978) is considered by connoisseurs of Soviet period pianists to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th Century from any nation.  Her recordings bear this out.  A pupil of David Aisberg, Felix Blumenfeld and Konstantin Igumnov, she was one of the major pianists in the Soviet Union until her father and husband were executed by Stalin in 1937.  The antisemitic Stalin insured that during his lifetime she was considered an agitator and held back from public piano performance.  She was relegated to becoming an accompanist for a dance troupe and playing the timpani in orchestras.  After Stalin’s death she was brought back into the fold and began performing both as a soloist and with orchestra as a concert pianist.  She was constantly in demand in the Soviet Union as of 1953.  A decade later in 1963, she was awarded the title of Distinguished Artist of the Soviet Russian Federation. She made 12 tours of Soviet bloc countries and 2 tours of Holland where she was lauded and regularly sold out the house.  The only thing which eluded her was a Professorship at one of the premiere Soviet conservatories.  It took until 1969, even with the powerful Neuhaus recommendation for her to finally receive a professorship at the Gnessin Institute.  The Moscow Conservatory held the Stalin grudge and never hired her.  The same year, for her 50th year on the stage, she conceived of a 3 piano concerto concert with the Moscow Philharmonic and played the Bach F minor concerto, the Beethoven 3rd concerto and the Rachmaninov 3rd on one bill to a standing room audience.  Her records are treasured by pianist collectors.


The only letter we have ever seen by Neuhaus, it is fitting the content is absolutely extraordinary!