George Szell leads the Cleveland Orchestra this week, in a concert recorded on June 24, 1965 at the famed Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Joining Szell is the American pianist John Browning in the Piano Concerto of Samuel Barber. Opening the concert is the Overture to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and closing the concert is Schubert’s Symphony Number 9.
The Cleveland Orchestra concerts, which were regularly broadcast throughout the U.S. during the 1950s and 1960s were milestones, with some of the most celebrated performers joining Szell on the podium each season during his long tenure with the orchestra. Fortunately, those concerts have been preserved, and have been occasionally rebroadcast over the decades since George Szell’s death. This concert features the celebrated American Pianist John Browning performing the Piano Concerto of Samuel Barber, a work Browning premiered in 1962.
Browning was a legend in his own right, part of that generation of pianists which included Van Cliburn, Leon Fleischer, Byron Janis and Gary Graffman. Although he was somewhat overshadowed by Van Cliburn, as the result of Cliburn’s winning the Tchaikovsky competition in 1958 and the tremendous publicity which surrounded that competition during the Cold War era, Browning was an active and highly respected pianist, performing some 100 concerts a year until the 1970s when he eased his hectic schedule, but in the 1990s his career resumed to even more popularity. Sadly, Browning died in 2003 from a fatal heart attack at the age of 69.
In case you’ve missed out on hearing some of these classic and legendary concerts, featuring some of the outstanding artists of the day, here is an excellent place to start – and a grateful thanks to Radio France Musique for keeping this all very vital and important.
And since it’s Wednesday . . . .a nice slice of Anti-Road Rage while we’re all it.