No shortage of adulation and dedications.

No shortage of adulation and dedications.
No shortage of adulation and dedications.

– Harold Bauer – in recital from The Magic Key Program – May 24, 1936 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Going into the early 20th century this week for a rare broadcast recital by the legendary late 19th/early 20th century pianist Harold Bauer.

Probably not known much today, aside from being the namesake of the award given to promising students at the Manhattan School of Music where gave many master classes later in his life. Harold Bauer originally began his career as a violinist, but switched to Piano at the purported urging of his teacher Ignace Jan Paderewski because “he had such beautiful hair”.

I’m sure career changes have been based on less motivation. But still, it was a game-changer as it signaled a huge leap in his career. He was the recipient of numerous dedications, including some major piano works by Debussy and Ravel and he was much sought-after throughout the world as a soloist.

Sadly, he record comparatively little (this was during the era of the 78 and well before the lp came into being) and virtually none of his live performances were recorded, save for this one, since it was the famous RCA Magic Key Program sponsored by RCA Victor Records, whom Bauer was under contract to.

Lucky for us. And even at a little less than 15 minutes, it offers a fascinating glimpse into a school of piano playing from another century.

Here is that performance, as broadcast on May 26, 1936. Harold Bauer in recital on the NBC Radio program The Magic Key.

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