Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Ignacy Friedman

Ignacy Friedman

Ignacy Friedman

*14 II 1882 Kraków, †26 I 1948 Sydney

Ignacy Friedman - was the son of the violinist and clarinettist of the Cracow theatre orchestra. His first piano teacher was Flora Grzywińska. From 1900, he studied composition with Hugo Riemann at the Conversatoire in Leipzig. In 1901-4, he took piano lessons with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, where he also attended Guido Adler's musicology lectures at the University of Vienna. He made his debut in this city in 1904, playing Brahms' D minor, Liszt's E flat major and Tchaikovsky's B flat minor concertos on one evening. The roaring success of this debut launched Friedman as one of the leading virtuosos of his time. In 1905, he settled in Berlin, and taught piano playing in Lviv from 1907. In 1918 he moved to Denmark. In 1927, he participated in Beethoven's 100th anniversary festivities, playing his complete violin and cello sonatas and piano trios with Pablos Casals and Bronisław Huberman. In 1941 he settled in Australia. He retired from the concert stage in 1943 following a partial paralysis to his left hand.

Friedman was also active as a composer, leaving around 100 piano and chamber works, songs to texts by Polish poets, and piano transcriptions. He distinguished himself as editor of the works of Schumann, Liszt and Chopin (complete works in 3 and 13 vols., ed. Breitkopf & Härtel 1913), representing the type of critical edition: he included variants borrowed not only from Chopin's pupils but also from the leading pianists of his time. He occasionally worked as a teacher; among his pupils were Victor Schioler, Bruce Hungerford, Ignacy Tiegerman and Janina Illasiewicz-Stojałowska.

Friedman was one of the most active concert pianists of the first half of the 20th century; he gave an estimated 3,000 public concerts throughout his career. His repertoire was very wide, including the majority of 19th-century piano concertos (a collection of nearly 800 concert programmes is available here). At the beginning of his career, he often performed contemporary works, such as the piano concertos of Władysław Żeleński, Henryk Melcer, Ludomir Różycki, Selim Palgren and others.

Friedman's piano style was shaped by his studies with Leschetizky; he combined a Romantic expression with great technical freedom, fluency of phrasing, a singing, crystalline tone, and a great elegance that was particularly evident in his unequalled passagework and trills. For his contemporaries, he was one of the great piano virtuosos, despite his disdain for purely physical, forceful play. It is regretful that his recordings (he started recording for Columbia in 1923) include mostly miniatures and give a limited insight into his style. From larger works he recorded Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and 14, Beethoven's Sonata in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 and the Violin Sonata Op. 47, Grieg's Concerto, Mozart's Sonata in A major KV331, Mendelssohn's Scherzo a capriccio; among smaller works, especially noteworthy are works by Hummel, Weber, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, and Friedman's own miniatures.

He recorded Chopin's Ballade in A flat major and F minor, Sonata in B flat minor, Polonaises Op. 53 and 71 No. 1 and 2, Etudes Op. 10 No. 5, 7 and 12, and Op. 25 No. 6 and 9, Preludes No. 15 and 19, Impromptu in F sharp major. Friedman's Chopin discography is crowned by a series of 13 mazurkas that give the artist a leading place in recording history. These mazurkas strike by their bold contrasts and colours and Friedman's individual interpretation of rhythm, driven by strong popular dance accents, poles apart from the drawing room convention of playing the mazurkas that dominated in Friedman's generation.

Wojciech Bońkowski

August 2006

Stanisław Dybowski, Słownik pianistów polskich [Dictionary of Polish Pianists], Selene, Warsaw 2003
Allan Evans, Friedman's biography, in preparation, see details here.
Friedman's recordings are not very numerous, and have not been gathered in a complete edition. They are to be found on several labels specialising in historical recordings. 5 CDs have been publihed by Naxos (including the 13 Chopin Mazurkas and Grieg's Concerto), while Pearl has published a 4-CD set titled Complete Solo Recordings (which is everything but complete). Isolated CDs have been also published by The Piano Library, Nimbus and APR. The most easily available recording is a 2-CD set by Philips (in the Great Pianists of the 20th Century series).


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