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SARI BIRO
Hungarian-American pianist (1912 - 1990)



Sari Biro is reported to have said "I believe that a performer must be a clear channel for the composer's message and not allow his or her own personality to interfere with the composer's intentions... A performer should extend, not absorb."

She came to the United States in 1939 and embarked on a very succesful concert career, performing often on the radio and on television.  After her New York debut in May of 1940, the New York Times wrote: "Sari Biro must be reckoned among the foremost women exponents of the keyboard of the time."  Her repertoire consisted of numerous contemporary works by composers such as Bartók, Menotti, and Milhaud.  When she obtained her American citizenship in 1949, the State Department named her the most distinguished new citizen of the year.

Some of the recordings below are not of very good quality,  Nonetheless, her art shines through.  We have a marvelous performance of the Kabalevsky 3rd piano sonata, an important mid-century work all too rarely heard in recital.  And for the pure enjoyment of her technical prowess, feast your ears on the "Danse d'Olaf" by Pick-Mangiagalli.

Sari Biro had played for Bartók as a child.  Later he heard her play the Hungarian Peasant Dances, some of which can be heard below, and was delighted with her performance, singling out her lovely singing tone. 

It is interesting to note, and I have raised this specter before in comments about the Chopin dance forms and Gershwin's 3 Preludes, that while Sari Biro is a stunning pianist and plays the piece by Albéniz beautifully, she does not fully capture the authentic Spanish rhythm of this piece.  I continues to make me wonder if a pianist who did grow up hearing the indigenous music of his country can ever really do justice to a type of music in which the authentic rhythm depends on subtle perversions of the rhythm as it is notated in the score. 

Finally, there are two recordings of concerto movements with orchestra, slim pickings when one considers she once played nine concerti in three days at Carnegie Hall, but enough, I think, to give us a good idea of Sari Boro's capabilities as a soloist.



Rameau  Gavotte and Variations from Suite 4 in A minor

recorded in 1957




Bach  Partita 2 in C minor, BWV 826

1 Sinfonia
05:12  2 Allemande
09:32  3 Courante
11:42  4 Sarabande
15:44  5 Rondeau
17:10  6 Capriccio

recorded in 1952




Scarlatti  Keyboard Sonatas


in G major, K 146 / L 349)
video taped in 1978



Presto in D major, K 492 / L 14
recorded in 1944




Haydn  Piano Sonata 59 in E major, Hob XVI/49

i Allegro
06:59ii Adagio cantabile
13:56iii Tempo di Menuet

recorded live in 1972




Mozart  Piano Concerto 24 in C minor, K 491
i Allegretto [cadenza by Hummel]
Wilhelm Loibner conducting the Austrian Symphony Orchestra




Schubert  Sonata-Fantasie 18 in G major, Op 78 (D 894)

i Molto moderato e cantabile
ii Andante
iii Menuetto - Allegro moderato
iv Allegretto

recorded live in 1972




Mendelssohn  Prelude in E minor, Op 35~1

recorded live in 1954


 


Chopin  Berceuse in D major, Op 57

broadcast live in 1949



Chopin  Étude in C minor, Op 25~7

broadcast live in 1949




Chopin  Piano Concerto 1 in E minor, Op 11
ii Romance - Larghetto
unidentified Conductor and orchestra




Albeniz  Malagueña, Op 165~3
from España, seis hojas de álbum




Emil von Sauer (1862-1942)  "Music Box"

recorded live in 1944




Bartók  Nine Old Dance Tunes
from 15 Hungarian Peasant Dances




Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli (1882-1949)  "Danse d'Olaf"

broadcast live ca1944




Prokofiev  Prelude in C minor, Op 12~7




Kabalevsky  Sonata 3 in F major, Op 46 (1946)

i Allegro con moto
ii Andante cantabile
iii Allegro giocoso










For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



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