Volkmar Andreae, Conductor.
Picture taken from Masterseal LP MW 40 with Anton Bruckner's Symphony
Granados: Goyescas on R-199-116
Granados: Goyescas on another of Don Gabor's inventions - the Etude
of the concert of April 4, 1960 in Porto, Portugal, with Frieda Valenzi
performing with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Conservatorio de Musica
do Porto conducted by Maestro Silva Pereira.
"Fantasie" coupled with Brahms' "Schumann Variations" played by Frieda
Valenzi as released on Merit Records, reference number M200-28
cover of the early release of the 10" Remington with Frieda Valenzi's
interpretation of Ravel's "Le tombeau de Couperin".
Valenzi's Symphonic Variations on the Australian Festival label.
Valenzi made her debut in Vienna in the great and famous Musikvereinssaal
performing the Piano Concerto in A Op. 16 of Edward Grieg. That was
Throughout her career she made extensive concert tours in Germany,
Italy, Portugal, Canada, USA, and she even traveled to Mozambique.
Her vast repertory extends far beyond the great works of the classic
and romantic periods.
Brahms' 2nd Concerto with conductor Volkmar Andreae in the Grosse
Musikvereinssaal in Vienna
Valenzi was born on May 15, 1910 in Vienna. She studied at the "Viennese
State Academy for Music and Dramatic Art", theory with composer
Joseph Marx and cellist/composer Franz Schmidt, and piano with Walter
Kerschbaumer and Friedrich Wührer.
Already in the years before the 2nd World War she was a teacher
herself at that same academy and resumed teaching in 1950 (meanwhile
the institute's name had been changed to simply "Academy for Music
and Dramatic Art", currently 'Universität für Musik und
Valenzi early in her career. (Photo by Fayer, Vienna).
she taught in the conducting class next to Hans Swarowsky. In 1959
she received the title of professor and from 1970 on she taught concert
performing. This position she held until 1980 when she officially
became a pensioner. However she continued to work for another 2 years
but had to stop when she had a stroke which paralyzed her at one side
and made it impossible to continue teaching and performing.
summer, from 1964 until 1972, Mrs. Valenzi conducted courses in interpretation
in the "Centre Culturel du Luxembourg" in Saint Hubert en Ardennes
in Belgium. She judicated in many competitions like the "Concours
de Genève" and the "Leipziger Bachwettbewerb".
a pianist she always had a strong affinity for the works of the modern
composers and her list of performances of the contemporary piano literature
is enormous. Young students may find names and works which may rise
their curiosity and inspire them to explore more modern composers.
The real meaning of Frieda Valenzi's art does not solely stem from
her Remington recordings - though fortunately they are there to witness
her insights in the performance of important compositions from the
piano literature - but lies merely in the fact that she brought a
great variety of new music to the many audiences that came to listen
to her concerts and recitals, or listened to her many radio recordings
for ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Authority) in Vienna:
Piano concerto Op. 30;
Bela Bartok: Sonatine for piano on peasant themes;
Friedrich Bayer: Piano concerto;
Alban Berg: Chamber Concerto for Violin, Piano and
13 wind instruments, Piano sonata Op. 1;
Boris Blacher: Variations on a Theme of Muzio Clementi;
Arthur Bornschein: Arabesques for piano and orchestra;
Johannes Brahms: Piano sonata No. 3, Piano concerto
No. 2, Piano pieces Op. 118;
Thomas Christian David: Piano concerto;
Claude Debussy: 12 Etudes Book I, 12 Etudes Book II;
Antonin Dvorak: Six silhouettes for piano Op. 8 Book
Werner Egk: Piano sonata;
Lukas Foss: Concerto No. 2;
Jean Françaix: Cinq portraits de jeunes filles;
César Franck: Prélude, chorale et fugue;
Enrique Granados: Goyescas, Suite No. 1;
Hans Hagen: Concerto piccolo for piano, orchestra and
jazz band, Scherzo for piano and orchestra, Toccata ciocosa
for piano and orchestra;
Christobal Halffter: Portuguese Rhapsody for piano
Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Concerto for Wind Instruments,
Piano and Percussion;
Paul Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 2;
Wilhelm Hübner: Piano concerto No. 1;
Ernst Krenek: Piano Concerto No. 2;
Witold (Witold) Lutoslawski: 5 Dance-preludes;
Bruno Maderna: Concerto;
Frank Martin: Ballade (1939), Concerto (1933-4);
Marx: Castelli Romani;
Karl Franz Müller: Concerto en miniature No. 1;
Alois Pachernegg: Concertino for piano and strings,
Prologue for piano and orchestra;
Hans Pfitzner: Pieces Op. 47;
Sergei Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3; Five melodies;
Albert Roussel: Piano Concerto;
Arnold Schönberg: Piano Concerto Op. 42, Three
pieces Op. 11, Six small pieces Op. 19, Five pieces Op. 23,
Suite for piano Op. 25;
Robert Schumann: Fantasy;
Alexander Scriabin: Preludes Op. 11;
Dimitri Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and fugues;
Oscar Strauss: Piano concerto;
Igor Stravinksy: Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments;
Peter Tchaikovsky: Andante and finale for piano and
orchestra Op. 7, The Seasons Op. 37a;
Erich Urbanner: Piano Concerto;
Francesco Valdambrini: Dialogues for Piano and Sections
of the Orchestra;
Roger Vuatas: Piano concerto Op. 112; Wolf-Ferrari:
Sonatine in E, Sonatine in c;
Heinz Walberg: "Konzert für die Einzige" for piano
compositions from the new piano literature had their first performance
by Frieda Valenzi. Many composers dedicated compositions to her. And
her performance of the Complete Piano Compositions of the Viennese
School is considered stylistically as exemplary.
also recorded for radio broadcasts with RAI in Rome. Regrettably she
did not make many LP recordings. The recordings for the Remington
label were made in 1951 and 1952.
There is an LP recording of Müller's "Concerto en miniature
No.1" which dates from the nineteen seventies in which she is
the soloist. The conductor is Christoph Michael. (Preiser 9907).
Valenzi with her favorite conductor Joaquim da Silva Pereira from
Portugal. The photograph was taken in the artists' room of the Conservatory
in Porto and was given to Mrs. Valenzi in Vienna. It bears
the dedication: "Pour Frieda Valenzi - Grande artiste et chère
Amie - Silva Pereira - Wien 1968"
Mrs. Frieda Valenzi in 1960 with
Portuguese conductor Joaquim da Silva Pareira.
Valenzi was above all a soloist and loved to concertize. She performed
with international acclaimed conductors, but her favorite conductor
was Joaquim da Silva Pereira from Portugal.
she was asked she also accompanied other instrumentalists. The Sonata
for Violin and Piano of César Franck always was one of her
1968 Mrs. Valenzi was honored with the "Austrian Cross of Honor for
Science and Art" and in 1981 she received the "Gold Cross of Honor
for merits on behalf of the Republic of Austria".
had several outstanding students. Among those French pianist Alain
Balageas and Austrian Alexis Hauser now a conductor.
Alexis Hauser remembers Mrs. Frieda Valenzi:
"She is one of the
greatest teachers I have ever had, and the only one who significantly
helped me on the piano. If I only would have had her marvelous
instructions sooner in my musical upbringing. It is now more
than thirty years ago, but I remember her class as if it were
yesterday. She was definitely a born pedagogue because she
knew exactly how to bring the best out in her students!" -
one time, conductor Mrs. Roswitha Heintze, once also a pupil of Frieda
Valenzi, had the honor to conduct when Frieda Valenzi was the soloist
in Rachmaninoff's 2nd Concerto in C minor, Op. 18. Before the intermission
Bedrich Smetena's symphonic poem "The Moldau" (Vltava) was on the
program. Just before the concert was to start the triangle player
had been reported ill. Mrs. Valenzi volunteered and replaced him,
however with great problems because of the long silences in the score
for the triangle. So she just played it by ear! Mrs. Heintze said:
"We still laugh about this event today and were very happy when we
read in Richard Strauss's "Memories" about a similar happening when
in the "Academische Festouverture" Richard Strauss was to play
the drum and Hans von Bülow the cymbal all to the honor of Johannes
Brahms. But time after time both lost measure and had to ask the trumpet
player to redirect them in the score."
the occasion of Frieda Valenzi's 90th birthday on May 15, 2000, Richard
Strauss's Sonata, Brahms's Sonata in F and "Goyoh" ("Stillness") by
Hae-Sung Lee, in its first performance, were played at the "University
for Music and the Performing Arts" (as the institute is called nowadays).
Performers were cellist Alexander Baillie (a pupil of Jaqueline
du Pre) and Roswitha Heintze at the piano.
Despite her handicap, Frieda Valenzi is in close contact with music
and performance. She attends as often as possible classes and performances
at the University in Vienna.
Remington recordings of Frieda Valenzi:
Maurice Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin (released early 1951).
César Franck: Variations symphoniques (coupled with Debussy:
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faun) with conductor
Jean Moreau (released in March 1952). Recorded Saturday, January 26,
1952 in the Brahms-Saal.
Enrique Granados: Goyescas. Don Gabor released Frieda Valenzi's
'Goyescas' recording on his Etude label in 1952 with reference
E-701 before it was issued on Remington R-199-116 in 1953.
Four of the seven pieces from "Goyescas" played by Frieda Valenzi
on Remington R-199-116 were recorded in 1951. Her recording
was for a long time the only LP recording of the work available
in the USA until the Spring of 1954 when the recording of José
Falgarona (VOX PL 8580) was released.
following year the complete recording of the 7 pieces played
by Spanish pianist Leopoldo Querol (Leopold Querol) became
available in France on Ducretet-Tomson LPG 8681, in Spain, and
in Germany on Telefunken LE 6528, but not in the USA.
recording of Soriano Gonzales performing Goyescas had
been made around 1954 but was not available outside Spain and
France. Then there was the recording by Cuban pianist José
Echaniz (Westminster 5322). Around the same time Russian-Georgian
Nikita Magaloff made his early recording issued in the US
on London LL 954 in 1955. It had been released one year earlier
on English Decca LXT 2900. A recording by Amparo Iturbi
followed in 1956 (RCA LM1925).
Valenzi's edition suffered from inferior manufacturing of plates
and pressings, and during the recording there was generally
no time for making more than one take. The recording would only
be interrupted when a significant error occurred. So there was
practically no splicing facility. And then the recording, like
any recording, could have been done on any Monday afternoon,
and possibly was made in a hurry.)*
Boulez once said in an interview on television that, if you
have seen a painting, it is easier to paint yourself and you
may even emulate the original. But starting from scratch is
an entirely different enterprise. It is clear that Mrs. Valenzi
was pioneering the complexity of the score as was Leopoldo Querol
who recorded also in those early 1950s and also his recording
was hardly spliced.
the performance of Eduardo del Pueyo (himself from Spain
and of course a compatriot of Granados) was released much later
on the Philips label (1957) and received acclaim, it was Alicia
de Larrocha's first recording in 1956 for Hispavox (released
in the US on American Decca and on Brunswick in Great Britain)
that more or less set the standard. Of course talent is needed.
And since we all remember Alicia de Larrocha's second
recording on Erato/Hispavox from the nineteen sixties, followed
by her RCA and Decca recordings, and the recordings by Thomas
Rajna (CRD) and Rena Kyriakou (VOX/Turnabout), it
is easy to find faults in the recordings made in the very early
is true, in olden days many works had to be pioneered by performing
artists when there were - except for the works of Bach, Mozart,
Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann - practically no examples available
on record of compositions that did not belong to the so-called
'iron repertory'. 'Goyescas' is a perfect example of this fact
as most pianists had difficulty in finding the structure in
the complexity as indicated by the composer himself. Even today
where there are so many historic performances available, protagonists
of the younger generation do not always understand the nature
of, say the Grieg Concerto, which is so obvious if they would
have made a study of 'Grieg in his time' and taken his
Norwegian roots into account.- R.A.B.
was financially very attractive to make recordings in Europe right
after World War II and many artists were happy to earn a living right
after the war in devastated Europe. They sometimes did not care much
about the quality of a specific recording and irregularities were
tolerated at the time.
Hearing Valenzi's performance in this perspective, the nature of her
interpretation has more sense and although it leans at times slightly
towards the classics, there are some poetical and moving moments in
the Remington recording.
is also another aspect which is easily forgotten and that is the significance
of the equalization curve which was used by the cutting engineer.
In 1951 the RIAA curve was not the standard. Only equipment used at
the time or high quality playback equipment of today do reveal the
inner core of many an old recording. Those who have equipment with
adjustable equalization will experience the full impact of such old
recordings. Compared to both del Pueyo's and Valenzi's, the interpretation
of Jose Echaniz on Westminster (who recorded a complete set of pieces)
has somewhat less passion and fire, and it lacks structure.)*
is also a recording of Schumann's "Fantasie" coupled with "Schumann
Variations" by Brahms, played by Frieda Valenzi and released on Merit
Records, reference number M200-28. The back of the cover
says: Copyright 1952 and on the front cover mentions the performer
as being "v. frieda, pianist". An assistent wrote on the label of
the container with the tape "v. Frieda" to indicate "Valenzi
Frieda" meaning that the artist's name should not be confused
with any other Valenzi. Yet many collectors and dealers started to
phantasize about the artist's name and wrongly attributed these performances
Plymouth release of these same performances has reference number
exists no release of Frieda Valenzi's Schumann and Brahms performances
on Remington. Edward Kilenyi played the same works for the Remington
label, the recording by Frieda Valenzi was only released on Merit
and Plymouth. The same goes for the Ravel disc with 'Le tombeau de
Don Gabor mostly just bought the recorded performances, produced in
Vienna by Marcel Prawy, most artists never met him.
with the wonderful interpretation of César Franck's "Variations
symphoniques" by Frieda Valenzi with the Austrian Symphony Orchestra.
Australia Frieda Valenzi's performance was released on the Festival
label. It is probable that Festival had a license agreement with
Concerteum from France.
France the recording was released on the Concerteum label, reference
performance of 'Variations symphoniques' by pianist Alexander
Brailowsky and conductor Jean Paul Morel (coupled with Liszt's
'Danse macabre' with Fritz Reiner conducting) confirms that the
conductor in the Remington recording with Frieda Valenzi is indeed
Jean Paul Morel. At right the French VDSM FALP 172 release of
Brailowsky's Franck which is the equivalent of RCA LM 1195, released
in the Spring of 1952. Brailowsky got a good note from Warren
DeMotte while the Remington disc was not mentioned.
France there was a release on the Odeon label of Symphony in D
of César Franck coupled with "Variations symphoniques"
with conductor Hans Swarowsky. The name of the pianist is named
Eva Vollma. Listening to this performance and the performance
of Frieda Valenzi on Remington, there are similarities in style
that suggest that Eva Vollma is in fact Frieda Valenzi, although
the Swarowsky recording misses the high intensity of the Remington/Concerteum
As so many music listners I have
been an admirer of César Franck's Symphonic Variations,
his Violin Sonata, and the Symphony in D. And my interest was
heightened when Dutch organist Sjoerd Mook (from Doetinchem)
explained the works of César Franck to me many years
ago. Of the Symphonic Variations I have owned the recording
by Leon Fleisher and George Szell. There is also the exquisite
performance by Walter Gieseking with Sir Henry Wood on 78 RPM
Columbia, the passionate performance by Maria Grinberg, the
clean Alexis Weissenberg, and the idiomatic French Jean Doyen,
and many more pianists.
when I heard the Remington recording of Frieda Valenzi with
conductor Jean Moreau, I sat at the edge of my chair and was
completely absorbed by the performance. For the first time in
my life I heard that "Variations symphoniques" are really variations
for piano and orchestra. The interpretation on Remington R-149-51
(in France Concerteum TCR 273) shows clearly the different variations
and the groups of variations in the score. Frieda Valenzi has
the perfect phrasing and conductor Jean Moreau is a worthy accompanist
who has the same excellent timing; he reminded me of Wilhelm
Furtwängler at certain instances.
talent is typically evident in Debussy's "Prélude à
l'après-midi d'un faun" on Side Two. Debussy is telling,
moving, inspiring. Despite a few mistakes in Franck's Variations,
made by the pianist on the spur of the moment - bear in mind
that the recording was done in one take and there was no splicing!
- both performances never fail to compell. It is a recording
that should be high on the want-list of every collector. Frieda
Valenzi plays with passion and compassion. Conductor Jean Moreau
is without doubt Jean (Paul) Morel who, in the nineteen forties
and early fifties was a colleague of Laszlo Halasz at the New
York City Opera Company, and Halasz and Gabor most likely asked
him to perform when he was on a visit in Vienna. He was an excellent
accompanist and interpreter. - R.A.B.
Written by Rudolf
A. Bruil. Page first published in February, 2001
On February 5,
2002, Mrs. Frieda Valenzi died in Vienna at the age of 91. She will
be remembered as an artist who dedicated her life to the promotion
of works of modern composers. And she will be remembered by her many
pupils as an influential teacher.
reading in this respect can be found in the July/August 2004 issue
of "International Piano" (Orpheus Publications, London),
in which author-pianist Charles Hopkins gives an analysis of the history
and nature of "Goyescas" and the earliest interpretations
by various pianists.