Sony Releases Gary Grafman's Complete Album Collection Today
Sony Classical celebrates the 85th birthday of Gary Graffman - American pianist, music administrator and piano teacher - with the first ever release of Mr. Graffman's complete recordings in a limited original jacket collection available today, September 24, 2013. Gary Graffman - The Complete Album Collection, 24 CDs in a clamshell box with booklet, will be offered at budget price. When RCA Red Seal released the first Graffman recordings in 1956 - Schubert's WandererFantasy and Prokofiev's Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 & 3 - the pianist was 28 years old. Now, after more than 50 years this debut recording is being released for the first time on CD, together with 23 more LPs-worth of music, all newly remastered from the original analogue tapes and many also debuting on CD.
Included in Gary Graffman - The Complete Album Collection are notable performances of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1964 with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic), Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto (1966 with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra), Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Prokofiev piano sonatas and one of the first recordings in the West of Tchaikovsky's Second and Third Piano Concertos (with Eugene Ormandy). His solo recital repertoire is represented by a generous selection of Brahms (including the Paganini and Handel Variations), Chopin, Liszt and Schumann (Carnaval and theSymphonic Etudes). There is also a reissue of what may be Graffman's most widely heard recorded performance - George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue from the soundtrack of the 1979 Woody Allen movie Manhattan.
Mr. Graffman was born in New York City on October 14, 1928. Having started piano studies at age four, Mr. Graffman entered The Curtis Institute of Music in 1936 when he was seven as a piano student of Isabelle Vengerova. After graduating from Curtis in 1946, he made his debut with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1949, Mr. Graffman won the prestigious Leventritt Competition. He went on to further his piano studies with Vladimir Horowitz and, at the Marlboro Music Festival, informally with Rudolf Serkin. Over the next three decades, Mr. Graffman toured extensively, performing solo recitals and with orchestras around the globe. His recordings have often focused on the Russian repertoire which is part of his family background.
In 1980 an injury forced Mr. Graffman to stop using his right hand to play but this encouraged him to pursue other interests such as writing, photography, and the study of Oriental art. In 1980 he joined the faculty at the Curtis Institute and took over as the school's director in 1986 and served as President from 1995-2006. He continues on the Curtis piano faculty. For his service to music Mr. Graffman has received numerous doctoral degrees, was honoured by the cities of Philadelphia and New York, and received the Governor's Arts Award from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Graffman remains active as a teacher and coach of piano and chamber music. His notable students include the piano virtuosos Lang Lang, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Yuja Wang, and Haochen Zhang. His 1982 memoir is entitled I Really Should be Practicing.
Seven left-hand works have been commissioned especially for Mr. Graffman. Among them are Ned Rorem's Piano Concerto No. 4, Daron Hagen's concerto, Seven Last Words, and William Bolcom's Gaea, a concerto for two pianos and two left hands, written for Mr. Graffman and his colleague Leon Fleisher, as well as a piano quintet by Jennifer Higdon.