LIVIA REV (b 1916)
Hungarian Pianist

I have chosen not to rewrite what follows because I want you to know what you are missing due to the short sighted stupidity and misplaced greed of Hyperion Records Ltd who own the tights to some of Livia rev's finest recordings. When you consider how much companies like this spend on advertising, it is inanely foolish of them not to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to introduce one of the great women pianists, one is virtually unknown in this country, and encourage sales of her CDs. Perhaps we should all cut off our noses to spite our faces.

Livia Rev is one of the pianistic marvels of our age. She was born nearly one hundred years ago in Budapest, Hungary. A child prodigy, she attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, the Leipzig Conservatory, and the Vienna Conservatory. She has performed the world over as a soloist with conductors of the stature of Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind, a veritable who's who of the great conductors of the 20th Century. She teaches, gives master classes, and as far as I know she may still, at the age of ninety-eight, be playing the piano.

In her prime, Livia Rev was one of the world's greatest interpreters of the music of Chopin. The recordings below of the 24 Preludes Opus 28 are among the finest I have ever heard, and as I write these words I am sorely tempted to place them at the top of my list. They were recorded in 1988 when she was in her 70s, but in these performances she is clearly still at the peak of her technical and interpretative powers. Listen to the third prelude, the one over which I have shed tears of frustration all my life. Her way with the left hand of this prelude is to die for. Her playing is gentle, not at all sentimental, as dramatic as is called for by the music and not a queenly iota more than is absolutely necessary.

Every Prelude is perfect and the entire collection comes across not as 24 individual pieces but as a lovely whole, a poetic discourse, if you will, on the art of the piano.

Another real treat is the recording of the complete Songs Without Words by Felix Mendelsson, though how many of these might have been composed by his sister Fanny is, sadly, something we will never know. This is a two-hour long video of tenderly gorgeous playing of lovely, and all to infrequently heard, music.

Some of these recordings are from a 90th birthday celebration in 2006. They suffer from an abominable piano and her playing is certainly not what it once was. But the beauty of her conception is still very much there to be heard and had the piano not been such a beast .... There is a recording from September of 2009, a better quality recording on a better piano, a Chopin Nocturne that is beautifully played.

Livia Rev recorded the Debussy "Clair de Lune" in 2004 at the age of 88. It is a charming performance, lovingly played and had I not known of her advanced age, I might never have suspected.

I have heard a few short examples from recordings Livia Rev made when she was quite a bit younger. It was piano playing the likes of which one hears only in dreams. Every note sang with the most gorgeous tone imaginable. The sheer perfection of her playing for those few moments has made me want to scour the globe for her records, of which only four seem still to be readily available. But somewhere in a dusty bin I will find her old European LPs, and I will be complete.

Chopin Préludes, Op 28~23 and 28~24
Prélude in C♯ minor, Op 45
recorded in 1988


Préludes 1-22 have been removed by Hyperion Records Ltd due to copyright infringement

Chopin Etudes
recorded in 1973

Op 10~3 in E major - Op 10~4 in C sharp minor (04:06) - Op 10~5 in G♭ major (06:30)
Op 25~1 in A♭ major (08:20) - Op 25~7 in C♯ minor (11:00) - Op 10~12 in C minor (16:25)

Chopin Nocturne 1 in B♭ minor, Op 9~1
recorded live in 2009

br>Five additional Nocturnes have been removed by Hyperion Records Ltd due to copyright infringement

Chopin Nocturne 13 in C minor, Op 48~1


Chopin Scherzo 3 in C♯ minor, Op 39
recorded in 1960

Chopin Impromptus
recorded live in 2006 at a 90th Birthday Concert in Szeged

1 in A♭ major, Op 29


2 in F♯ major, Op 36


3 in G♭ major Op 51


4 in C♯ minor, Op 66 "Fantasie-Impromptu"


Beethoven Piano Sonata 30 in E major, Op 109
recorded live in 2006 at a 90th Birthday Concert in Szeged

i Vivace ma non troppo
ii Prestissimo


iiia Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (brginning)


iiib Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (conclusion)


the complete recording of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words has been removed by Hyperion Records Ltd due to copyright infringement

Mendelssohn from Songs Without Words
Allegro leggiero in F♯ minor, Op 67~2
02:43 ➢ Moderato in B minor, Op 67~5
04:48 ➢ Allegro non troppo in E major, Op 67~6
07:00 ➢ Andante espressivo in F major, Op 85~1
09:36 ➢ Adagio in D major, Op 102


Schumann Papillons Op 2
recorded in 1962

Liszt "Un sospiro")
recorded live in 2006 at a 90th Birthday Concert in Szeged

In this next example, Livia Rev plays three children's pieces, "The Happy Farmer" and "The Wild Horseman" by Schumann, and "O Polichinelo" from Prole do Bebê, series 1 by Villa-Lobos. These are pieces we all have heard butchered ad infinitum all our lives, and some of us have probably done some of the butchering ourselves as youngsters. In these performances, the music is brought to life in all its simplicity and delicacy.

Schumann "The Happy Farmer" and "The Wild Horseman" from the Album for the Young, Op 68
Villa-Lobos "O Polichinelo" from Prole do Bebê, series 1
video recorded in 1959

Debussy "Clair de Lune"
Recorded live in 2004

Debussy "Les collines d'Anacapri" and "La sérénade interrompue" from Préludes Book 1
recorded in the early 1970s

Debussy "Feux d'artifice" n12 from Préludes Book II
recorded in 1991

Debussy Images Book I

1 "Reflets dans l'eau"

2 "Hommage à Rameau"

Debussy Etude 7 "Pour les degrés chromatiques" (4:05)
recorded in 1980
preceded by performances of the same work by Clara Haskil and Monique Haas (2:06)

Bartok "Evening in Transylvania" from 10 Easy Pieces, Sz 39/5)
recorded in 1985 have been removed by Hyperion Records Ltd due to copyright infringement

Poulenc from Trois Pièces, 3 Toccata
recorded ca1947

Mozart Piano Sonata in D major, K 576
recorded live in 2006 at a 90th Birthday Concert in Szeged

i Allegro


ii Adagio
iii Allegretto


Here is my new book, a murder mystery with a musical polemic

and the audiobook version

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