A composer to dispel Covid gloom

A composer to dispel Covid gloom

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

December 11, 2021

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Gustav Mahler, who disliked flashy soloists, used to say that his mood picked up if he saw Busoni’s name on the program. The Italian-Austrian, half-Jewish piano virtuoso and ambitious opera composer was a voracious intellectual and bibliomane who could talk philosophy all night long, studding his conversation (like his music) with jokes…

More here.

And here.

En francais ici.

In Czech here.

In The Critic here.



  • RW2013 says:

    Sublime genius.

  • Terence says:

    According to Della Couling’s biography, Ferruccio Busoni’s maternal great, great grandfather was half Jewish — not FB himself.

    If correct (I have reason to doubt it) this is a remote connection. FB died in 1924 but even in Nazi German such a heritage was well outside the range for persecution.

    Perhaps you have better information Norman.

  • 88 says:

    I am always in awe of Busoni – in awe of him as a pianist, a composer, a writer and a teacher. He did it all and he has always served as an exemplar to me.

  • Herb says:

    Busoni the Magnificent.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Great that such CD is issued nowadays, one does not hear much Busoni in concert life. He was an experimentalist, more of a hit-and-miss type like Liszt than a rounded-off artist with a single vision. His Berceuse Elegiaque is great music, but his monstrous pianoconcerto a gigantic flop.


    • Enquirer says:

      “a rounded-off artist with a single vision”? Sounds like either a contradiction in terms or really boring. Any examples?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Well, most composers of some stature have a quite strong sense of their musical identity and a personal style, even the oldies who were much more embedded in a collective stilistic framework like Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart. Almost all composers from Beethoven onwards had a clear musical identity. I can only think of Liszt, Busoni and Stravinsky who changed their style so drastically and wrote such entirely different types of music and on such very different levels.

  • Una says:

    Funnily enough, just started to read your book Why Mahler? only this evening on the train home to Ilkley via to Leeds. I shall enjoy it – as well as actively dig out some recordings and have a listen over another quiet Omicron Christmas, albeit out of London!