William Kapell’s widow opens up about the lost pianist

Allan Evans has been out again with his microphone.

William Kapell was married to the extraordinary Dr. Anna Lou DeHavenon. Here is an interview with her and how she faced a stress-fraught performance when her husband was ordered by a Draculesque conductor to swallow an unwanted work.

Listen here.

william kapell

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  • I remember this story. He passed too young. One of the finest pianists of the American school. Remember meeting Anna at the Kapell competition at the University of Maryland after it was renamed from the then annual University of Maryland International Piano Festival and Competition which Stewart Gordon presided over so brilliantly. He had a stellar jury every year, and they performed evening recitals. There were lectures, master classes, teachers and pianists attending from all over the US and Canada. The competition was on the highest level attracting prize winners from the Leeds and Rubinstein competitions.

    • Not one of “The American School”, and let’s not be so stupid. He is one of the finest musicians. Listen to the Mazurkas closely. Listen to the Rondo in A minor. He is so near to my heart.

  • William Kapell’s great performance on record of the Beethoven 2nd Piano Concerto was the first sound of a piano I ever heard when I was a baby. Hearing his beautiful, noble, and brilliant sound and sensitive and heroic performance made me decide that I had to play the piano. The second wonderful piano sound that I heard was Artur Schnabel playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. I was not quite two years old when I started touching the piano in our house after being so moved by Kapell and Schnabel. I am sure this influence from them affected many young, aspiring pianists in the early 1950’s. Kapell’s late wife, the wonderful Anna Lou Dehavenon related to Allan Evans and to me when I had the privilege of meeting her in person at her home in 2009, about how when Artur Schnabel heard William Kapell’s recording of Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto on the radio on WQXR, Schnabel didn’t hear the announcement of the piano soloist, so he thought it was his own recording until the announcer said Kapell was the soloist. Imagine Schnabel’s surprise and amazement. When Kapell went to Schnabel to take some lessons from him, Schnabel told him about how Kapell’s recording had fooled Schnabel into thinking it was him playing. Kapell took this as a great and most wonderful compliment.

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