excellent recording of Liszt's Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz (archaic
Todtentanz), Variations on Dies Irae, played by Edward Kilenyi.
Hungarian Fantasia and Mozarts K488
and Felix Prohaska on Remington R-199-44.
cover of the first issue of R-199-44.
around 1957 on the cover of the re-release of the Remington recording
of Chopin's 1st Concerto with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra and
Felix Prohaska on Masterseal MS77.
popularity is reflected in a testimonial advertisement of Carlson-Stromberg
promoting their reproduction 400 system. In the ad he is in the company
of Ernst von Dohnanyi, Antal Dorati, Leopold Stokowsky, Alexander
Hilsberg and Ellen Ballon. (High Fidelity Magazine, December 1953.)
reconstructed by RAB.)
Chopin's Waltzes on R-199-82.
Kilenyi's Recordings on the APR label.
Kilenyi was a gifted pianist and above all an admired teacher. He
was the son of violinist-composer Edward Kilenyi Sr. who came from
Hungary (1884, Békés, Hungary - 1968, Tallahassee, Florida)
and who appeared in several movies, mostly uncredited (See the Internet
Movie Data Base - IMDb - web site). From 1919 till around 1923 George
Gershwin studied composition with him.
Edward jr., born
on May 7, 1910, in Philadelphia, showed, already at the age of three,
an exceptional talent for playing musical compositions by ear.
"His father gave him a thorough musical training, but without
depriving him of the joys of a normal boyhood through premature exploitation
as a child prodigy", according to the liner notes of R-199-166.
von Dohnanyi, teacher of pianist Edward Kilenyi
At the age of
11, young Kilenyi played for
Ernst von Dohnányi when von
Dohnányi visited New York in 1921. The maestro proposed to
take the boy's musical education in hand. So Edward Kilenyi traveled
to his father's native land, Hungary in 1925, and started his studies
in Budapest. A few years later Kilenyi already concertized with his
his diplome at the Ferenc Liszt Academy in 1930, he started
to perform in Europe. When Thomas Beecham heard Kilenyi play
he remarked: "That's the way to play the piano!" and booked young
Edward on a concert tour to introduce him to the entire English music
loving nation. That was in 1935. Beecham called him "The true
successor of the great Romantics, an artist in the grand manner of
Liszt and Rubinstein." And after having performed with Willem
Mengelberg and the (Royal) Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam,
Mengelberg said: "There is but one young artist whom one may
compare musically with Kilenyi - that is Menuhin." This not only
showed Mengelberg's esteem for Menuhin's artistry, but indicated that
Edward Kilenyi, a young pianist in his twenties, was a remarkable
with other great European conductors of that time as well: Karl Muck
(the opposite of Mengelberg), Sir Henry Wood, John Barbirolli, Paul
Paray, Philippe Gaubert, Charles Munch, and also with George Szell.
His artistry grew in popularity, enough reason for the French record
label Pathé to contract him to record works by Liszt: "Hungarian
Fantasia" (Pathé PAT 119/20) and "Todtentanz"
(Totentanz; Danse macabre, Pathé PAT 102/3) with conductor
Selmar Meyrowitz . The Todtentanz recording won the Grand
Prix du Disque in 1939. The recordings of these works were
released in the US on the Columbia label (78 RPM). At the time he
also recorded with conductor Meyrowitz Liszt's Fantasia "The
PAT 136/8), plus a series of solo works like Mephisto Waltz
and Au bord d'une source (Pathé PAT PG104/5) when living
In 1940 he made
his debut in New York's Town Hall and consequently appeared with such
personalities as Otto Klemperer, Dimitri Mitropoulos and Eugene Ormandy.
Ormandy said: "It is not easy to rouse my enthusiasm, but he
(Kilenyi) did, the minute he touched the piano."
For Columbia he recorded with the Minneapolis Symphony and conductor
Kilenyi's recording of Chopin's Concerto No. 1 with the Minneapolis
Symphony Orchestra under Dimitri Mitrropoulos on Columbia's
budget label ENTRE, ref, RL 3028. Recorded in the 78 rpm era:
Columbia CM-515 (4 x 12").
Kilenyi's orchestral repertoire included:
Beethoven: Concertos Nos. 1, 3 and 5
Concerto No. 2
Frederic Chopin: Concertos in E Minor and in F Minor
Frederick Delius: Concerto in C Minor
Ernst von Dohnanyi: Variations on a Nursery Theme
Franz Liszt: Concerto No 1, Hungarian Fantasia, and Todtentanz
(Dance of Death)
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi: Concerto in G Minor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concertos K488 and K 467
Franz Schubert-Franz Liszt: Wanderer Fantasia
Robert Schumann: Concerto in A Minor
Peter Iljitch Tchaikovsky: Concerto in B Flat Minor.
Kilenyi and his teacher Ernst von Dohnányi around 1955.
Together they had made a recording for Columbia playing on two
pianos 'Suite en valse' coupled with Kilenyi playing Dohnányi's
'Waltz Settings', on a 12 inch Columbia disc (ML-54256).
courtesy of The Ernst von Dohnányi Collection at The Florida State
was interrupted by World War II. He became a US citizen by enlisting
in the US Army and served for four years as a welfare officer. In
1945 he became Music Control Officer for Bavaria (Germany) in the
US Military Government. His task was to reorganize and stimulate the
cultural life in that region after the war. Germany was morally bankrupt.
It was important that life should get back to normal. As music control
officer he was able to testify and help clearing the accusations made
against pianist/conductor Georg Solti - also a pupil of Dohnanyi.
Kilenyi's intervention became more or less the basis for Solti's carreer.
In those years
Kilenyi got to know the German way of life and made contacts with
artists and orchestras. His stay in Europe and subsequent travels
led eventually to his recordings for the Remington label. In 1950
he recorded Chopin's Concerto No. 1, Debussy's Preludes, Chopin's
Etudes Op. 10, and Liszt Hungarian Fantasy. As Remington's Music
Director he traveled to Europe once again in March 1951 and visited
Vienna, Salzburg, Paris and Milan. Kilenyi's early recordings for
the Remington label were produced by Marcel Prawy, possibly together
with Don Gabor and/or Laszlo Halasz who traveled to Europe at that
time. Laszlo Halasz recorded the Suite from Zoltan Kodaly's
'Hary Janos' in Vienna, released on R-149-44. Halasz
was not yet Recording Director for Remington.
In 1953 Edward
Kilenyi took up the post of professor at the Florida State University
of Music in Tallahassee and joined his former teacher Ernst von Dohnanyi,
who had joined the FSU faculty four years earlier, in 1949. Kilenyi
taught there for nearly thirty years until 1982.
Kilenyi at the beginning of his carreer
taken from the booklet of the Appian double-CD of the Pathé
His famous prewar Pathé recordings of Liszt's Todtentanz
(Danse macabre), Hungarian Fantasia for piano and orchestra
and other works by Liszt and Chopin, recorded in the
78 RPM era, have been transferred to CD thanks to the devoted work
of former Kilenyi students Jane Perry-Camp and her husband, the composer
Harold Schiffman. This according to the booklet accompanying the CDs.
It is also mentioned that original matrixes did not exist anymore,
hence it took a lot of effort and time to collect the shellac records
and prepare them for re-recording.
Many people have contributed
to the project, amongst those Edward Kilenyi himself, who had several
records in his personal collection. The transfers were done by Bryan
Crimp who was already known for his transfers in the nineteen
seventies (e.g. the Felix Weingartner recordings in the HMV Treasury
Series - RLS 717). For the Kilenyi recordings he succeeded in achieving
a distortion free and distinctive sound which is especially remarkable
because in most cases the quality of the original discs was far from
pristine. The recordings are released on APR (Appian Publications
and Recordings), the label from England that specializes in great
performers of the past.
In 1954 Kilenyi
recorded Todtentanz once again, coupled with the Concerto
No. 1, but then for the Remington label with the RIAS
Symphony Orchestra and Rumanian conductor Jonel Perlea.
These are structured and balanced performances. They show Kilenyi's
virtuosity and above all his sense for timing, drama and sensitive
poetry and the ability to create the right atmosphere for the individual
movements and variations. These are excellent performances which are
in the same vein as the recordings made in France before the war,
but now technically very well recorded. This disc not only ranked
high on the list of recordings of these works available in the early
nineteen fifties, they also can withstand fierce competition of today's
pianists. The collaboration of Jonel Perlea is exemplary.
cover for Kilenyi's 1954 recording of the Liszt Concerto and
Todtentanz with Jonel Perlea.
A few years earlier
Kilenyi had recorded the Hungarian Fantasia with the Austrian
Symphony Orchestra under Felix Prohaska. This is a very articulate
performance which shows Kilenyi's skill to the full. His playing is
precise and intense. Kilenyi again shows that he is in command of
the keyboard and masters the Hungarian Fantasia the same way as he
mastered the work some fifteen years earlier in the 78 RPM era with
conductor Selmar Meyrowitz (Pathé 119/120, Columbia CX 120
later renamed MX-120). The same is true for Chopin's Etudes Op.
10 which are performed with an emphasis more on the pianistic
qualities of the compositions, however there are studies with a deeper,
imaginative interpretation. On modern equipment the recordings do
reveal sensitive playing.
the Remington albums of Edward Kilenyi:
Concerto No. 1 with Felix Prohaska conducting the Austrian Symphony
R-199-50 Debussy: Preludes Book 1 (1951)
cover of an early edition of Twelve Préludes (Debussy)
played by Edward Kilenyi on RLP-199-50:
Delphic Dancers, Soils, Wind in the Plains, The Sounds and Perfumes
turn in the Evening Air, The Hils of Anacapri, Footsteps on Snow,
What the West Wind Saw, The Maiden with the Flexen Hair, The Interrupted
Serenade, The Sunken Cathedral, The Dance of Puck, Minstrels.
A very personal interpretation, yet an impressive performance.
Etudes Op. 10 (released in the Fall of 1951)
R-199-61 Liszt: Hungarian Fantasia, with Felix Prohaska and
the Austrian Symphony Orchestra - Mozart: Concerto K 488 with
Paul Walter conducting (released in the Fall of 1951)
early, pre-Steinweiss cover of RLP-199-61 with Liszt's
Hungarian Fantasia with a relatively slow pace, and Mozart's
Concerto No. 23, K 488.
in the Spring of 1952)
R-199-83 Beethoven: Sonata No. 21 (Waldstein) and Sonata 26
(Lebewohl) (released in the Spring of 1952)
R-199-90 Chopin: Sonatas Nos. 2 & 3. (Released
in November 1952)
R-199-91 Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Brahms: Variations
on a theme of Handel (released
in the Fall of 1952)
R-199-164 Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 with Jonel Perlea conducting
the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (released
Schumann: Carnaval, Chopin: Prelude Op. 28, No.16, Berceuse,
Etude in F minor (Op.posth.), Barcarolle (Released in December
Liszt: Piano concerto No. 1 and Todtentanz, with the RIAS Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Jonel Perlea. (Released in December
A recording in a slightly different tonal balance and in fake-stereo
appeared on Palace PST-610 and is attributed to the Viennese Symphonic
Orchestra and conductor Kurt Baumann. No mention is made of the pianist.
It is not entirely clear if this is an original recording or a dubbing
of the Kilenyi performance.
taken from the November 1942 issue of ETUDE magazine. Edited
by R.A.B. (From the SoundFountain Archive)
and personality, both as a teacher and as a performer, are profusely
illustrated in an article written by Rose Heylbut for The
Etude Magazine, published in November 1942, entitled "Profitable
Piano Practice". Studying scales and practicing the score, and working
on the interpretation from the score, is not enough, the maestro says.
Speaking about studying a composition and the interpretation, one has
to know more about the composer and the composition. Kilenyi takes Robert
Schumann as an example:
must be approached in the world in which he lived; must be
reconstructed and brought to life through his music. Only
then can the student hope to offer an adequate interpretation
of Schumann's work. To achieve this, he must live with Schumann!
He must realize that Schumann was a great intellect; and not
only that his music was 'romantic', but also that it was made
so by the great florescence of romantic literature in Germany
at the time. If the student reads that Schumann was enormously
influenced by Jean-Paul Richter and E.T.A. Hoffmann, he should
be inspired (by enthusiasm as well as by a desire for self-improvement)
to search out the works of those writers and discover for
himself what they had to say. It is quite impossible to play
the "Kreisleriana", for instance, without steeping one's self
in the spirit of Hoffmann's mad Kapelmeister, Johannes Kreisler.
Every composer must be approached, not as an isolated phenomenon,
but as the reflection of the life, the movements, the tastes,
even the fads of the epoch that bred him." - Edward Kilenyi
On January 6,
2000 Edward Kilenyi died at the age of 89 in Tallahassee.
Pianist Deborah Yardley Beers, one of Kilenyi's pupils, described
the qualities of Edward Kilenyi as a teacher:
"At the heart of the piano lessons I took from Kilenyi were
his wonderful demonstrations at the piano of sections of pieces
on which I was working. With the exception of pieces by Messiaen,
Schoenberg, and Haydn, he could demonstrate by heart from
any point in any piece that I ever studied with him. (...)
Of course he expected me to play correctly (...) and he expected
me to play with some understanding of the historical context
of the pieces (...). Above all, though, I believe his real
goal was for me to find my own voice as a musician, and to
learn to speak with it from the keyboard." - Deborah Yardley
Rudolf A. Bruil,
Page created and published in November 2000
On January 14,
2001, a "Edward Kilenyi Memorial Concert" was given at the
Florida State University, Tallahassee. The noted composer David Ward
Steinman, a former student of Edward Kilenyi, performed a new work
he had composed in Kilenyi's memory, and fourteen of Mr. Kilenyi's
former students came from across the United States to take part and
perform in this program.