Death of a major Busoni pianist, 86

Death of a major Busoni pianist, 86


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2021

The outstanding American pianist Daniell Revenaugh died last Friday. A student of Egon Petri, who was Busoni’s pupil, he devoted much of his life to preserving the legacy of the most phenomenal pianist that ever breathed. He was the conductor of John Ogdon’s ground- and bank- breaking recording of the Busoni piano concerto on EMI, a release that brought Busoni back into circulation after a long quietus.

Among other activities, Revenaugh invented a Lower Lid for the grand piano to improve sound projection. It has been used in concert by Martha Argerich, Peter Serkin, André Watts, Radu Lupu and Alexander Toradze. He also patented a muting device for grand pianos to improve neighbourly relations in tower blocks.

Lawrence Perelman, his close friend, writes:

In many ways Revenaugh was a Panglossian figure who might not have achieved the full potential of his musical and artistic gifts. However, what he left us, especially those who knew him well, was an understanding that bringing an idea to fruition could take a lifetime especially if it did not fit the narrative of the establishment. Why did a piano need a second lid? Why did an orchestra need to be amplified? Why match a cabaret with classical music? Why spend a lifetime preserving and promoting the legacy of Busoni?

Read Lawrence’s full appreciation of Revenaugh here.


  • Rogerio says:

    Looks like Mr. Revenaugh is being rediscovered after his death.
    One of his major achievements was rediscovering Busoni after he died.
    Maybe it would be useful if someone were to actively search out some promising, innovative young people and discover them before they die. And give them the opportunity to refresh classical music instead of refreshing it by paying fortunes in salaries to random “genius” conductors and spending billions on opulent concert halls.
    Before classical music dies.

  • Save the MET says:

    The most phenomenal pianist who ever breathed award still goes to Franz Liszt. Busoni is well up there, but there will always be arguments about who comes after Liszt. Chopin, Clementi, Horowitz, Risler, Moscheles, Thalberg immediately come to mind of pianists who are in the running with Busoni.

  • David J Hyslop says:

    Sad news indeed. I have known Danny since 1966 when he was a conducting fellow at a clinic led by Dr. Richard Lert. We kept the friendship up over the years and a few years ago , while I was working in the San Francisco East Bay, area, I met him at his home and spent some quality time with him . He had a brilliant mind and was a character and then some . His home had pianos everywhere, a letter of Beethoven’s and a huge amount of material on Busoni .

  • Alexander T says:

    Without a doubt, Busoni would wipe the floor with most of today’s pianists.