German-Hungarian pianist (1914 - 1993)

Julian von Karolyi was an amazing pianist.  He studied with Josef Pembaur, Max von Pauer, Alfred Cortot and Ernő Dohnányi, and it shows.  He specialized in the performance of Chopin and Liszt

Just listen to his performances of the Chopin Études. They will make you want to practice harder . . . or quit. I'm not saying I want to play them the way he does, but I certainly would give anything to be able to.

Julian von Karolyi, a contemporary of Richter and Gilels, is simultaneously a throwback to an even earlier generation in which interpretive excesses were the expected order of the day, and a supreme example of our own generation in which more notes are played accurately per minute than anyone has ever had the audacity to expect or hope for.

I am at the same time overwhelmed by his gifts and shocked by some of the things he does. Are his interpretations the ones I would choose for my desert island collection? Mostly not. But do I want to hear ever more after listening to him play? Absolutely. And as is the case with Gould's performances of music other than Bach, no matter how bizarre he might be at any given moment, he is unquestionably a supreme genius.

My one area of disappointment is Julian von Karolyi's playing of the Mazurkas which I find entirely unsatisfying.  There is no lilt.  They do not dance.  And playing them fast just seems to miss the point of these precious utterances.  The one example of a waltz, however, the Op 64~2 in C♯ minor, is performed very much to my taste.

Why is Julian von Karolyi virtually unknown today? Easy, he's much too interesting for the contemporary ear.

Click on this link to hear Julian von Karolyi play piano music and concerti by the likes of Haydn, Liszt, Schumann, Debussy and Rachmaninoff, as well as the F minor concerto of Chopin.

Chopin  4 Ballades

1 in G minor, Op 23 
07:58 2 in F major, Op 38 
14:36 3 in A major, Op 47
21:15 4 in F minor, Op 52

recorded in 1951

Chopin  4 Scherzi

1 in B minor, Op 20
08:40  2 in B♭ minor, Op 31
17:26  3 in C♯ minor, Op 39
24:30  4 in E major, Op 54

recorded in 1960

Chopin Études

from Op 10
12 in C minor "Revolutionary"

from Op 25
1 in A♭ major "Aeolian Harp"
2 in F minor
4 in A minor
6 in G♯ minor
7 in C♯ minor


from Op 10
1 Allegro in C major

2 Allegro in A minor

3 Lento ma non troppo in E major

4 Presto in C♯ minor

5 Vivace in G major

6 Andante in E minor

7 Vivace in C major

8 Allegro in F major

9 Allegro molto agitato in F minor

10 Vivace assai in A major

11 Allegretto in E major

from Op 25
3 Allegro in F major

5 Vivace in E minor

8 Vivace in D major

9 Allegro vivace in G major "Butterfly"

10 Allegro con fuoco in B minor

11 Lento in A minor "Winter Wind"

12 Allegro molto con fuoco in C minor

Chopin  Mazurkas

in F minor, Op 6~1

in B minor Op 24~4

in C♯ minor, Op 50~3

Chopin  Préludes, Op 28

complete set recorded in 1957

and live in 1960

Préludes 1 - 13

Préludes 14 - 19

Préludes 20 - 24

Chopin  Nocturnes

1 in B♭ minor, Op 9~1
05:14  2 in E♭ major, Op 9~2
09:25  9 in B major, Op 32~1
13:20  12 in G major, Op 37~2
18:54  13 in C minor, Op 48~1
  7 in C♯ minor, Op 27~1
29:11  15 in F minor, Op 55~1
35:17  16 in E♭ major, Op 55~2
39:28  17 in B major, Op 62~1
44:35  19 in E minor, Op 72~1

recorded in 1962

Chopin  Impromptus

recorded in 1956

1 in A major, Op 29
03:12  2 in F♯ major, Op 36

3 in G major, Op 51
03:32  4 Fantaisie-Impromptu in C♯ minor, Op 66

Chopin  Fantaisie in F minor, Op 49

recorded in 1950

Chopin  Barcarolle in F♯ major, Op 60

recorded live in 1954

Chopin  Polonaise-Fantaisie in A major, Op 61

recorded ca1960

Chopin  Waltz 7 in C♯ minor, Op 64~2

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

Follow these links to our main subject categories

Or return to the Great Pianists Play page

[?]Subscribe To This Site
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Add to My MSN
  • Subscribe with Bloglines