Russian-British pianist (1879 - 1960)

Mark Hambourg Was born in Russia but moved with his family to England in 1889 to escape the Tsarist regime.  He studied with his father Michael, an eminent piano teacher who had himself studied with Nicholas Rubinstein and Taneiev.  Hambourg recalled: "My father never drove me, though I had great natural facility and learnt in four days at the age of seven The Lark by (Glinka-Balakireff), a work too difficult for me." Hambourg's brothers became accomplished string players.

When Mark Hambourg went in Vienna to audition for Leschetizky, Annette Essipova, the absent master's current wife, heard him play Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. She accepted him on the spot.  Leschetizky prepared Hambourg for his Vienna debut in 1894.  He performed Chopin's E minor Concerto with Hans Richter conducting the Vienna Philharmonic to considerable acclaim. The following year he performed Anton Rubinstein's D minor concerto with Nikisch and the Berlin Philharmonic. Once during a Brahms Festival in Vienna he performed that composer's first concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under Felix Weingartner.  Hambourg learned that Brahms had been in the audience and had sent his compliments.  Anton Rubinstein heard the young Hambourg and recommended him to the noted Berlin impresario Wolff.

He also performed Tchaikovsky's First Concerto under Artur Nikisch and subsequently recorded it with Landon Ronald. Hambourg credited Nikisch and Ronald as the greatest conductors with whom he had performed. And he often spoke of having performed the Beethoven C minor concerto conducted by the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye.

Mark Hambourg was strongly influenced by Paderewski whom he considered "the hero of his earliest youth".  Of others he wrote "I do not suppose that any pianist today could play faster or louder than Moriz Rosenthal, or with more power than Eugen D'Albert, more impressively than Busoni or with greater elegance than Emil Sauer."  Rosenthal, Busoni and Nikisch became his close friends.

Mark Hambourg performed and premiered numerous works by contemporary composers including Debussy, Ravel (Jeux D'eau and Gaspard de la Nuit), Albeniz, Granados, Malipiero, and Villa Lobos.

Hambourg's Chopin is magnificent, a bit eccentric at times, as we might find his playing in general today, but touches of pure genius abound.  The music comes to life in his hands in a very special way.  The nocturnes, in particular, are not the all too often overly sweet night music but rather the somewhat fantastical utterings of the troubled soul of which Chopin was possessed.

The comparison of Hambourg's and Debussy's own performance (albeit a piano roll) of "La plaus que lente" is fascinating.  In this piece, the former's somewhat eccentric tendencies just doesn't work as well for me.

And do not miss the Dvořák Slavonic Dance, beautifully played by Mark Hambourg in a version for solo piano.

Händel  "The Harmonius Blacksmith"

recorded in 1926

Mark Hambourg plays Bach, Chopin, & Schubert-Liszt

from Bach  Toccata in D minor, BWV 565 (rec 1929)
07:37 ➢ Chopin  Berceuse in D major, Op 57 (rec 1928)
11:13 ➢ Schubert-Liszt  "Ständchen" (Hark, hark the Lark) (rec 1928)

Scarlatti  Keyboard Sonata in G minor, L 499 "The Cat's Fugue"

recorded in 1913

Scarlatti-Tausig  Pastorale & Capriccio

Gluck-Sgambati  "Melodie" from Orfeo

recorded in 1929

Beethoven  Piano Sonata 3 in C major, Op 2~3
Finale- Allegro assai

recorded in 1926

Beethoven  Piano Sonata 8 in C minor, Op 13 "Sonata Pathétique"

i Grave. Allegro di molto e con brio
06:06ii Adagio cantabile
09:47iii Rondo - Allegro

recorded in 1930

Beethoven  Piano Concerto 3 in C minor, Op 37
Malcolm Sargent conducting an unidentified Symphony Orchestra

iii Rondo - Allegro

recorded in 1929

Schubert  Impromptus, Op 90

2 in E major (rec 1931)

4 in A major

Schumann  "Aufschwung" from Fantasiestucke, Op 12~2

recorded in 1928

Schumann  Andante and Variations for two pianos in B major, Op 46
with daughter Michal Hambourg, piano

recorded in 1934

Leschetizky  Etude, Op 36~4 "La Source"

piano roll

Tchaikovsky  Piano Concerto 1 in B minor, Op 23
Landaon Ronald conducting an unidentified orchestra

ia Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso. Allegro con spirito (beginning)

ib Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso. Allegro con spirito (conclusion)

ii Andantino semplice

iii Allegro con fuoco

Dvořák  Slavonic Dance 10 in E minor

recorded in 1930

Moszkowski  Etude in G major, Op 24~1 (abridged)

recorded in 1909

Eduard Schütt (1856-1933)  Concert Paraphrase 2 on J. Strauss Waltz Motifs - Kuss-Walzer

recorded in 1913

Debussy  Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
[Transcribed for piano by Leonard Borwick]

recorded in 1922

Debussy  3 "Clair de lune" from Suite bergamasque

Debussy  10 "La Cathédrale engloutie" from Préludes, Livre I

recorded in 1926

Debussy  Waltz "La plus que lente" (1910)

Claude Debussy, piano roll
03:37Mark Hambourg

Ede Poldini (1869-1957)  Etude in A major

recorded in 1915

Scriabin  Etude in C♯ major, Op 8~1

recorded in 1917

Rachmaninoff  Polichinelle, Op 3~4

de Falla  excerpt from "Fantasia Baetica" (1919)
[commissioned by and dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein]

recorded in 1923

Percy Grainger  "The Handkerchief Dance" ("English Country Gardens")

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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