Gerald Moore, probably one of the key figures in the role of piano accompaniment in the world of Classical music for much of the 20th century. He redefined the role of the accompanist from that of the indifferent provider of musical background to that of equal partner in performance for both vocalists and instrumentalists. He was famously known for his collaborations with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schumann, Hans Hotter, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Ángeles and Pablo Casals.
Moore is credited with doing much to raise the status of accompanist from a subservient role to that of an equal artistic partner. It is debatable whether he succeeded in convincing the British Establishment of his time, of the uplifted status of his art. Whereas prominent conductors and singers, for example, in the British musical theatre were awarded knighthoods, he received a CBE, a lower ranked award. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau wrote in his introduction to the German edition of The Unashamed Accompanist, “There is no more of that pale shadow at the keyboard; he is always an equal with his partner”. Moore jealously protected this status of his art, complaining when accompanists he admired were not given billing in concert. He quoted with disapproval the remark made by a singer to Coenraad V Bos, an accompanist of an earlier generation, “You must have played well today, for I did not notice you.”
Moore retired from public performances in 1967, with a farewell concert in which he accompanied three of the singers with whom he was long associated: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Victoria de los Ángeles and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. This famed concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall – recorded by EMI and reissued in 1987 as CDC 749238 – concluded with Moore playing alone—an arrangement for solo piano of Schubert’s An die Musik . He made his last studio recording in 1975.
Moore was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1954.
In his memoirs Moore wrote that his services were not needed at Benjamin Britten’s Aldeburgh Festival, “as the presiding genius there is the greatest accompanist in the world.” In 1967, the chief music critic of The Times, William Mann held that the preeminence was Moore’s: “the greatest accompanist of his day, and perhaps of all time.” In 2006 Gramophone magazine invited eminent present-day accompanists to name their “professional’s professional”, the joint winners were Britten and Moore.
He died at home in the village of Penn, Buckinghamshire in 1987.
As a collector, here is a reminder of what a remarkable artist Moore was. If you’re just getting familiar with all the facets of Classical Music performance for a pianist, here is a voice you need to know about.