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Published on Jan 11, 2010
-Franz Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody no. 17 in d-moll piano: Grigory Ginzburg (1903-1961) rec. Moscow 1958
Grigory Ginzburg 4th Prize winner, 1st International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1927). Grigori Ginzburg was born into a family with no musical traditions. However, his parents insisted that their three sons become acquainted with the basics of music and play piano at least on an amateur level. Grigory the youngest child displayed the greatest interest in music and could play a tune by ear when he was but four years old.
Tales of the remarkably talented boy reached Alexander Goldenweiser in Moscow. In 1910, the Ginzburgs introduced their son to Goldenweiser, who immediately decided to teach him music and piano playing. After the death of Grigori's father, Goldenweiser became almost a surrogate family to the boy.
Goldenweiser placed particular emphasis on the development of basic technique. He worked Ginzburg through Hanon's exercises, teaching how to transpose them to any chosen key, play complicated rhythms, tempos and contrasting dynamics.
Ginzburg was accepted to the Moscow Conservatoire at the age of thirteen, to the so-called lower course, but soon became a full-time student in Alexander Goldenweiser's class. Goldenweiser was Ginzburg's only teacher during the entire course of his musical education.
Ginzburg made his debut as a pianist in 1922, when he sensationally played Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major with the renowned Moscow 'Persimfans' orchestra.
In spring 1924 Ginzburg graduated from the Conservatoire earning a gold medal, which meant his name was engraved on a white marble plate that listed the best graduates of the Conservatoire. On 24th October Ginzburg gave a recital that included Schumann's Carnival and Liszt's infamously difficult Réminiscences de Don Juan.
During 19241928, Ginzburg undertook post-graduate studies at the Conservatoire under the supervision of Goldenweiser, and started his teaching career as an assistant.
1927 brought him great success when he took 4th place at the 1st International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He was among the favourites of the Warsaw audience who believed he should have been awarded 1st Prize.
At the time, Professor Stanisław Niewiadomski published an apt description of Ginzburg's competition performance:
"Everything comes from under his fingers not only completed in the most refined manner . Refinement alone would not suffice, were it not for the unequalled simplicity of his playing of the Mazurka in A minor or the excellent accents in the Polonaise. Ginzburg placed [himself] on equal footing with the best pianists of the competition."
Ginzburg was also among the competition favourites of Professor Piotr Rytel, a renowned Warsaw critic, pianist and composer, who wrote:
"The young pianist distinguished himself from his co-competitors through his precision and subtlety of phrasing as well as brilliant technique. Who knows whether it was not his Chopin that came closest to the ideal?"
Following his success in Warsaw, Ginzburg continued his concert career in Soviet Russia. In 1936 he was permitted to perform concerts in Poland (he gave a recital at the Warsaw Conservatoire in January) and Switzerland; in 1956 in Hungary (at the Liszt-Bartók Festival); in 1959 in Czechoslovakia; and in 1961 he made a triumphant tour of Yugoslavia. In autumn 1961 he was due to perform in Poland, including a recital recording for the Polish Radio of the complete Chopin Etudes to play them in Chopin's homeland. Unfortunately he was suddenly taken ill and hospitalized, and he died shortly afterwards.
Ginzburg was a professor at the Moscow Conservatoire from 1935 to 1959. His students included Gleb Axelrod, Sergei Dorensky, Alexei Skavronsky and Daniel Pollack.