also Allan Evans Catalog on Arbiter Records.
At the age
of 67, Hungarian born pianist Etelka Freund came to live with relatives
in the United States, in 1946, though she had tried to cross the Atlantic
already before World War II broke out. When she arrived her dear teacher
and friend Béla Bartók had already died.
European artists had fled Europe already before the war and populated
the music centers and all were trying to find work which, understandably,
was very difficult with such an abundance of migrated talent. No big
record company was interested in recording the art of Etelka Freund,
the legendary pupil of Johannes Brahms, Federico Busoni, Bela Bartók,
and of her brother - the great and neglected pianist and composer
- Robert Freund. Only insiders knew of Etelka Freund's existence,
talent and European fame.
had stopped performing when she married in 1910 at the age of 30,
but had started performing again in Europe's major cities at the age
of 57, a few years before World War 2 broke out.
There were many musicians who were really remarkable and were not
offered any sort of contract by a leading record company in Europe.
So it is understandable that "The Encyclopedia of Recorded Music"
of 1948, which lists all the 78 RPM recordings available at that time,
has no entry of any performance by Etelka Freund, nor has the 1942
Though her fame as a concertizing performer, who had started a second
career, must have been known in the United States, she only was invited
by a radio station to perform for live broadcasts; some of these have
been preserved and reissued on CD: Bach, Liszt, Brahms, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy,
Kodaly and Bartok.
And there was, of course, Don Gabor who released 2 LPs with
recordings made with her around 1952.
Etelka Freund plays music of Johannes Brahms: Sonata in f minor Op.
5. and Intermezzi Op. 117 No. 2 and Op. 116 No 2.
John W. Freeman wrote the
liner notes for this release:
are named in the history of great pianists, but those few have
earned a right to the highest places in their art and profession.
Etelka Freund, one of the truly legendary musicians of recent
times, links the tradition of Clara Schumann with that of today's
few great women pianists. Born in Vienna, where her talent was
recognized at an early age, Madame Freund actually knew Brahms
and learned from him the interpretation of his works. Later
she studied in Switzerland with her brother Robert, an outstanding
pianist of his time, and in Germany with Busoni, who always
considered her the greatest of his many pupils.
Etelka Freund made her first concert appearance in Berlin when,
with Busoni conducting the orchestra, she played three major
concertos on the same program - an astounding feat in terms
of physical endurance, especially for a young girl. Newspaper
critics of the time observed that she was "of the same
timber of which the greatest ones are carved," and for
many years she played successful concerts, growing all the while
in musicianship and reputation. Her home in Budapest, ruined
during World War II, was a meeting place for leading musicians
and composers of the past half century, since in addition to
her skill as a pianist Madame Freund was also highly esteemed
for her musical taste, knowledge and understanding. Among her
souvenirs of an illustrious musical life spanning one of music's
fullest epochs, Etelka Freund still has the original manuscript
of Brahms' Second Concerto and some letters. - Notes by John
Warren De Motte
wrote about this disc in
Long Playing Record Guide: "Etelka Freund actually
knew Brahms and although he probably did not coach her in this sonata,
she plays it with an understanding that indicates she must have profited
from the relationship."
Etelka Freund playing Brahms one can hear how close Brahms could be
to Schumann's idiom especially in the Intermezzi which are played
here with such a lightness and naturalness that one easily forgets
about the choleric Brahms and the more 'heavy' interpretations by
other pianists. "It is like floating on a peaceful, sunny day,
on a raft on the ocean towards an open destitny", as a reviewer
explained. And the Sonata in F receives an assertive, yet sensitive
reading. It is assumed that the sound recording was made in the Mastertone
Studios in New York City where other Remington artists made recordings:
Edward Kilenyi, Simon Barere, Ossy Renardy, a.o.
Freund also recorded the Waltzes of Frederic Chopin which were
released on Gabor's Plymouth label with reference number P-12-125
as to not to compete with Edward Kilenyi's set of the Waltzes on
R-199-82, Kilenyi being a major Remington artist.
Although the Plymouth release is considered by some not as worthwhile
as her Brahms, it is quite interesting to hear Etelka Freund's unaffected
performances of Chopin's pieces.
transferred the Remington recording of the Sonata in F minor Op. 5
and the Intermezzi Op. 116 No. 2 and Op. 117 No. 2 to the digital
format together with the Scherzo in E flat minor Op. 4, Variations
and Fugue on a theme of Handel Op. 35, Intermezzo in E flat minor
Op. 118 No. 6, and Capriccio in F sharp minor Op. 76 No. 1 which came
from other sources.
On a second CD other recordings can be found of works by Bach (from
The Well-Tempered Clavier), Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (Fantasia), Liszt
(Funérailles, Valse oubliée, St. Francis of Assisi's
Sermon to the Birds, Impromptu), Kodaly (from Nine Piano Pieces Op.
3) and Béla Bartók (Bagatelle, Sketch, from For Children,
from Folk Songs, Ten Easy Pieces, and Evening in Transylvania). Worth
for a Sound Clip of a Intermezzo by Brahms. When a better recording
is available I will upload it.
of Schumann's 'Fantasy' coupled with Brahms's 'Schumann
Variations' on Gabor's Merit Records, reference number
M200-28 has been attributed by various collectors and record
dealers to Etelka Freund. The cover mentions the performer as being
"v. frieda, pianist". This
prompted a record dealer and many music lovers whose brains fantasized
ad lib to suggest that the artist was Etelka Freund. The container
of the tape apparently was labeled "v. frieda" by someone
in Austria before the tape was shipped and Gabor or an assistant must
have thought that the artist was "v. frieda" and had this
copied onto cover and label. It is the custom to write first the family
name (or the initial of the family name) followed by the Christian
name, especially when indexing performers. It also shows that the
staff of Remington Records (and even Don Gabopr for that matter) did
not always know about every artis, let alone that they did meet them
The pianist however is not Etelka Freund but the Austrian
Valenzi. Although some people still maintain that
these were played by Etelka Freund on this recording, Mrs. Frieda
Valenzi told that these are her recordings of the 'Fantasie' and the
R.A.B. Page first
published February 2001