also Allan Evans Catalog on Arbiter Records.
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
excellent 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.
Freund 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.
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 early 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.
R-199-109 Etelka Freund plays music of Johannes Brahms: Sonata
in f minor Op. 5. and Intermezzi Op. 117, No. 2, and Op. 116,
John W. Freeman wrote the
liner notes for this release:
Few women 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
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."
to Etelka Freund playing Brahms one can hear how close Brahms could
be to Schumann's idiom especially in these 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
a few 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, Pierre Luboshutz and Genia
Freund also recorded the Waltzes of Frederic Chopin which were
released on Gabor's Plymouth label, 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.
Pearl CD has the Remington recording of the Sonata in F minor
Op. 5 and Intermezzi Op. 116 No. 2 and Op. 117 No. 2 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.
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); Béla Bartók
(Bagatelle, Sketch, from For Children, from Folk Songs, Ten Easy Pieces,
and Evening in Transylvania). Worth investigating.
Jonathan Woolf's review on Music Web
for a Sound Clip of a Intermezzo by Brahms.
recording of Schumann's 'Fantasy' coupled with Brahms's
'Schumann Variations' on Gabor's Merit Records Label, 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 or even by producer
Marcel Prawy himself, 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 Gabor for that matter) did not always know about
every artist, let alone that they did meet everyone in person. The
pianist however is not Etelka Freund but the Austrian Frieda Valenzi.
some people still maintain that on this recording these works were
played by Etelka Freund,
Mrs. Frieda Valenzi
told that these are her recordings of the 'Fantasie' and the 'Schumann
Rudolf A. Bruil.
Page first published February, 2001