The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical Music: German town restores post-Holocaust citizenship to its Jewish native son, Beaux Arts Trio pianist extraordinaire Menahem Pressler. | September 17, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Better late than never, as they say.

One of the news items in classical music is that a town in Germany, Magdeburg has restored  citizenship to its native son, pianist Menahem Pressler (below).

Pressler was a founding member and longtime pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio (below), which finally disbanded two years ago after several changes of personnel. Pressler, who is 87, stayed from beginning to end, and is still active as a performer and teacher.

Pressler, who is Jewish, had to flee Germany at 15 because of the Holocaust. He hid from the Nazis during Hitler’s war on the Jews after the infamous “Kristallnacht.” He ended up in Israel and then the United States where he toured extensively and taught at Indiana University.

Many consider the Beaux Arts Trio (below in an early photo) the best piano trio that ever existed, and also consider Pressler the finest chamber music pianist who ever played. He possessed an unsurpassed ability to both blend in and stand out whenever it was appropriate.

This week, the still active Pressler will perform twice as a soloist with the symphony orchestra in his native town of Magdeburg before serving on the jury of piano competition in Hamburg, Germany.

Here are two links;

The first link is to the story about Pressler’s citizenship, with Pressler gracious and forgiving reaction to the news:

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2012/09/exclusive-german-town-restores-citizenship-to-its-most-famous-musician.html

The second link is to an oral interview that famed British critic Norman Lebrecht (below) did with Pressler, whose voice you can hear:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01l0ly9

You can find out a lot more about Menahem Pressler as a chamber musician, a soloist and a teacher by Goggling his name and searching at YouTube.

And here — via one of The Ear’s all-time favorite pieces of chamber music, the slow movement from Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 1 in B-Flat Major — is a taste of Pressler’s great and subtle art:

To Menahem Pressler, The Ear toasts a hearty L’chaim! To life! To your life!

You can leave a congratulations of your own or a personal appreciation of the Beaux Arts Trio in the COMMENT section of this blog.

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