Andor Foldes, Piano – L.A. Philharmonic, Alfred Wallenstein, cond – The Standard Hour – NBC Radio – January 30, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Another rarity this week, but a frustrating one. A performance by Hungarian/American pianist Andor Foldes in the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Alfred Wallenstein. It was part of a broadcast of The Standard Hour from NBC Radio on January 30, 1949 sponsored by the Standard Oil Company of California. Frustrating in that it’s only the First movement; all that was broadcast. Oh well. Tantalizing tidbits is all we have, but that’s something to be grateful for in any situation.
Andor Foldes (1913-1992), was a Hungarian-born American pianist closely associated with the music of Bela Bartok. He was also a respected interpreter of Viennese Classical composers.
Mr. Foldes began his studies privately with his mother, Valerie Ipolye, and with Tibor Szatmari. He made his public debut performing a Mozart concerto with the Budapest Philharmonic when he was 8 years old. The next year he entered the Budapest Academy of Music to study the piano, composition and conducting, but still continuing to perform publicly.
During his student years, Mr. Foldes worked with several important Hungarian composers, among them Ernst von Dohnanyi, with whom he studied until 1932, and Bartok, who he met in 1929. Bartok’s music became a central part of his repertory. He gave the New York premiere of Bartok’s Second Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall in 1947. His 1948 recording of the work, prized by collectors, was later reissued on compact disk, as was a set of Bartok works he recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, which won the Grand Prix du Disques and other prizes.
Mr. Foldes made his American orchestral debut in a radio concert in 1940 and his recital debut at Town Hall in 1941. He met his wife, a Hungarian journalist, in New York. In the 1950’s, when Mr. Foldes’s European concert engagements were more plentiful than his American ones, he and his wife moved to Europe, settling in Switzerland in 1961.
Besides a large discography, which includes not only the Bartok recordings but also works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Falla, Debussy, Poulenc, Liszt, Schubert and Rachmaninoff, Mr. Foldes was the author of “Keys to the Keyboard” (1948).
Among his awards are the Grand Cross of Merit (in 1959), given by Germany for helping raise money to have the Beethoven Halle in Bonn rebuilt, and the Silver Medal of the City of Paris (in 1969).
Just before his untimely death in 1992, his wife told interviewers that her husband had been preparing for a performance and an eight-day master class at the Beethoven house in Bonn, Germany. Mr. Foldes died at his home in Herrliberg, Switzerland, on February 9, 1992, after falling down a flight of stairs.
Aside from a large commercial discography there are many broadcast concerts available, so this broadcast may not be all that essential or unusual to any degree. But I doubt, because of it’s truncated length, that it’s been available. So completists, take note.
Until next week . . .
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