Text Box: pianiST autographs


Price: $85.00


Autographed and inscribed 8” x 10” photograph of the African-American concert pianist, February, 1978. The photograph bears his publicist, Alix Williamson’s backstamp.  Watts dedicates the photograph to the late Larry Davis, manager of the Indiana University Music School’s auditorium which he now teaches.  The photograph taken in 1971 dates to his first solo recital at the Indiana University Auditorium, February 13, 1978.

Watts (1946 -     ) a military brat was the son of a Hungarian pianist mother and was born in Nuremburg, Germany right after the War.  He began his lessons with her at the age of six.  By seven he was so advanced that she bought him a violin and he learned to play both instruments. Six months later he had dropped the piano for the violin.  His Father was transferred back to the U.S. when he reached nine and was stationed in the Philadelphia area.  He made his debut as a pianist at Robin Hood Dell that Summer.  At the age of eleven he enrolled at the Philadelphia Musical Academy where he studied with Russian trained Genia Robinor, Doris Bawden and the school’s Dean, Clement Petrillo.  He made two other debuts in Philadelphia at the age of twelve, The Philadelphia Little Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra Children’s Concert where he played a Haydn Concerto.  At the age of sixteen in 1963, he played the Liszt Concerto No. 1 at a New York Philharmonic Young Person’s Concert which was broadcast nationally and Leonard Bernstein who conducted predicted “giant-hood” after the concert.  His teacher Genia Robinor said at the time she was glad she “pushed him a little”.  A second performance several weeks later with Bernstein and the Philharmonic of the Liszt Concerto, with Watts filling in for Glenn Gould at a subscription concert led to a spontaneous ovation by both the audience and orchestra.  That performance led to a recording of the concerto with Bernstein and the Philharmonic right afterwards.   He graduated this year from the Philadelphia Academy of Music and enrolled at Peabody to work with Leon Fleischer part time.  However, his career began to take over as he was in demand coast to coast with major orchestras.  In 1966, he made his European debut in London, with the Lodon Symphony Orchestra.  A year later, the State Department sent him on a world tour.  By 1969, he was fully booked for three years and in 1972, he received his bachelors from the Peabody Conservatory of Music.  The same year, he became the youngest person to be awarded a Yale Honorary Doctorate. 

As a pianist, Watts has gone from elegance to a larger sonorous sound as he has matured.  He has weathered multiple health issues including a recent one for nerve injury to his hand in 2013.  That said, he is now back to performing with two hands.  He is currently a tenured chair Professor at Indiana University where this photograph was signed.


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