The history of classical music spans a thousand years. For 900 of those years we did not have the luxury of hearing composers play their own music and we have no real understanding of how the music really sounded or was meant to sound.
Thanks to Edison and a few others around the turn of the last century, we have been able to record sound for posterity. The first pianists to avail themselves of this new technology were born in the middle of the 19th Century while many of the great 19th Century composers were still alive. These pianists had studied with some of them and had heard others play. And as a result of this exposure to and influence of that generation of composers, the pianists who were the first to record were able to give us a window to the style and manner of the playing of those composers.
But since the advent of recording, composers have been able to preserve their own performances. Composers like Saint-Saens, Grieg, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Bartók, Prokofiev, and countless others made recordings that leave no doubt as to what they had in mind and how they wanted their music played.
The following links will take you to the personal legacy of the great pianist composers of the late 19th and the 20th Centuries. These recordings offer profound insights, surprising revelations, and, in a few cases, the best performances of favorite works you will ever hear.
Albéniz, Isaac (1860 - 1909)
Faure, Gabriel (1845 - 1924)
Françaix, Jean (1912 - 1997)
Gershwin, George (1898 - 1937)
Grainger, Percy (1882 - 1961)
Mompou, Federico (1893 - 1987)
Scharwenka, Xaver (1850 - 1924)
Scriabin, Alexander (1872 - 1915)
Taneyev, Sergei (1856 - 1915)
Vladigerov, Pancho (1899 - 1978)
Williams, Alberto (1862 - 1952)
For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background
which is also available as an audiobook.
And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:
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