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Published on May 4, 2008
Rare. Rene Leibowitz conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Pennario, piano
Leonard Pennario, America's Greatest Pianist.
Rene Leibowitz (1913-1972) was born in Warsaw but moved to Paris in his teens and there began a long, illustrious conducting career. Particularly interested in contemporary music, he studied with Webern and Schoenberg and wrote a detailed analysis of twelve-tone music. A keen ear for instrumental coloration (Ravel was his orchestration teacher) was evident in his kaleidoscopic transcriptions of such works as Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C (for double orchestra!). But he is best known for his often highly personal renditions of many staples of the Classical and Romantic repertoire.
Leonard Pennario (July 9, 1924 - June 27, 2008) was an American classical pianist.
He was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in Los Angeles, remaining there for his entire career. He first came to notice when he performed Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto at age 12, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The scheduled performer had fallen ill, Pennario's piano playing had come to the attention of the conductor Eugene Goossens, who recommended him as the soloist after being assured by Pennario that he knew the work. In fact, he had never seen the music or even heard it, but he learned it in a week.
He studied with Isabelle Vengerova and Olga Steeb and attended the University of Southern California, where he studied composition with Ernst Toch. World War II interrupted his career, and he served in the U.S. Army Air Force in China, Burma and India, where his piano skills were soon realized and served well entertaining troops. He occasionally had to play around keys missing from the keyboards of the pianos at a couple of the more remote bases. He was discharged in 1946 as a staff sergeant and was awarded three Battle Stars. He had, however, made his debut, in uniform, with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall on November 17, 1943, with Artur Rodziński, playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.
Thanks to Mary Kunz Goldman who is the music critic of The Buffalo News and the authorized biographer of Leonard Pennario. Mary blogs daily about the adventure of chronicling a great pianist's life on her Web site, http://www.marykunzgoldman.com
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