Theodor Leschetizky was born in 1830 in Lan¨ut, Poland, on the estate of the Potocki family. His father, music teacher to the household, gave Theodor his first piano lessons and then took him to Vienna to study with Czerny. By the age of eighteen he was a well-known virtuoso. At the invitation of Anton Rubinstein he went to St. Petersburg to teach in the court of the Grand Duchess Helen. Remaining there from 1852 to 1877, he was one of the founders of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music in 1862. While in Russia he married one of his most famous pupils, Annette Essipova (the second of his four wives), and had two children with her. His descendants live in Vienna and Bad Ischl, the summer resort where he often vacationed with his friend Brahms.

 

Leschetizky returned to Vienna in 1878 and began teaching there, creating one of the most important private piano studios in history. He taught literally thousands of students, who came from all over the world, many from America. Among his celebrated Vorbereiter (assistants who prepared students to play for him) were Katherine Goodson, Annette Hullah, Marie Prentner, and Malwine Brˇe, author of The Leschetizky Method (a title which he approved, while stating that there "was no method!"). The list of virtuoso concert artists he trained includes Essipova, Paderewski, Schnabel, Hambourg, Brailowsky, Moiseivitch, Friedman, Bloomfield-Zeisler, Gabrilowitsch, and Horszowski. Perhaps the secret of his successful teaching was that he worked with each student's personality and technical abilities in an individual way. His famous weekly classes provided his students the opportunity to try out their pieces, prior to public performances, before a discerning audience of their fellow students and invited guests. Until his death in 1915, Leschetizky espoused a philosophy of music-making and enjoying life to the fullest, captured in one of his most famous sayings (translated from the German), "No art without life, no life without art."

 

In addition to his gift for teaching Theodor Leschetizky possessed a distinct talent for composition. He wrote over seventy piano pieces, two operas, a number of songs, and a one-movement piano concerto. Although his piano pieces are primarily smaller works in the genre of salon music, they display an expressive lyric gift while exploiting the piano's capabilities to great effect. Most of Leschetizky's music has been out of print since the early twentieth century, with the exception of the Andante Finale di Lucia di Lammermoor, Op. 13, a transcription for the left hand of the famous sextet from Donizetti's opera, and Les deux alouettes, Op. 2, No. 1.  The Leschetizky Association has undertaken to reprint several piano pieces in a new Leschetizky Album.  In this volume we have included some of his less well-known but also very effective works, ranging from intermediate to advanced in technical difficulty, and of varying moods and styles.  The eleven pieces chosen for this volume, the first of a series the Association plans to publish, show the development of Leschetizky's harmonic language from early romantic simplicity to late romantic chromaticism.

 

The Leschetizky Association of New York was founded in 1942 by Edith Sullivan Golde and other Leschetizky pupils to perpetuate his principles of teaching and piano playing. The Association presents concerts and informal performance opportunities for pianists of all ages and levels, in venues ranging from private studios to piano showrooms to concert halls throughout the metropolitan area.  Thanks to the generous bequest of a Steinway piano from the estate of Hilde Wittgenstein, widow of Paul Wittgenstein, who was a founding member, the Association has inaugurated a concert series in the gallery of the Tenri Cultural Institute.  This series features concert artist members in recital, guest recitalists, and special events of the Association. 

 

In 2003 we held our first Gifted Young Pianists Concerto Competition (replacing the former Debut Competition). Open to pianists up to age 17, the competition is held every two years, in New York. The winner performs a full concerto with orchestra. Theodor Leschetizky continues to assert a seminal influence on the modern concert stage through the musical descendants of his many students. The Association is dedicated to furthering the high standard of piano playing and teaching he epitomized.