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#421180 - 08/21/06 05:04 PM Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
I found this list while surfing. Quite amazing considering only about 1 out 500 people are Jewish. Any thoughts why there is such preponderence of great pianists who were Jewish? I think it is a cultural phenomenon.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
JEWISH PIANISTS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Charles Alkan
Vladimir Ashkenazy 1
Emanuel Ax
Victor Babin
Gina Bachauer 11
Dmitri Bashkirov 13
Daniel Barenboim
Simon Barere
Boris Berman

Lazar Berman
Victor Borge
Alexander Borovsky
Alexander Brailowsky
Yefim Bronfman
Ignaz Bruell
Shura Cherkassky
Harriet Cohen
Bella Davidovich
Misha Dichter
Samuil Feinberg
Vladimir Feltsman
Annie Fischer 2
Leon Fleisher
Yakov Flier
Claude Frank
Ignaz Friedman
Emil Gilels
Grigory Ginsburg
Leopold Godowsky
Alexander Goldenweiser 8
Richard Goode
Gary Graffman
Mark Hambourg
Clara Haskil
Myra Hess
Vladimir Horovitz
Eugene Istomin 9
Byron Janis
Joseph Kalichstein
William Kapell
Julius Katchen
Mindru Katz

Louis Kentner
Evgeny Kissin
Vladimir Krainev 14
Lili Kraus 10
Wanda Landowska
Ruth Laredo
Josef Lhévinne
Rosina Lhévinne
Radu Lupu 3
Hephzibah Menuhin
Benno Moiseiwitsch
Ignaz Moscheles
Murray Perahia
Menahem Pressler
André Previn
Michael Roll
Moritz Rosenthal
Anton Rubinstein
Artur Rubinstein
Nikolai Rubinstein
Harold Samuel
András Schiff 4
Artur Schnabel
Peter Serkin 5
Rudolf Serkin
Abbey Simon

Solomon (Cutner)
Wladyslaw Szpilman
Mark Taimanov
Carl Tausig
Sigismund Thalberg
Rosalyn Tureck
Isabella Vengerova 12
Alexis Weissenberg
Paul Wittgenstein 6
Maria Yudina 7

NOTES
1. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
2. See Jewish Budapest by Kinga Frojimovics et al. (Central European University Press, Budapest and New York, 1999, p. 366.)
3. Information confirmed by sources in the Romanian émigré community in Israel.
4. See http://www.jewhoo.com.
5. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
6. Like his brother the philosopher, Paul Wittgenstein was three-quarters Jewish.
7. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_y.htm.
8. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
9. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11016-2003Oct10.html. Tim Page's obituary article in the Washington Post stated that Istomin's parents were "of Russian-Jewish ancestry." Based on name analysis, Istomin's mother (née Asya Chavin) was almost certainly Jewish. This, however, is less likely to have been the case for his father, George Istomin.
10. See Lili Kraus: Hungarian Pianist, Texas Teacher, and Personality Extraordinaire, by Steven Henry Roberson (Texas A&M, 2000, p. 1).
11. See http://www.bachauer.com/archive-1.asp.
12. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_v.htm.
13. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_b.htm.
14. Jewish mother, non-Jewish father.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SEND QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS TO: jinfo@jinfo.org
JEWS IN MUSIC
JINFO HOME

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#421181 - 08/21/06 05:07 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Max W Offline
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Registered: 10/05/02
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Loc: RHUL
I'd say it is more by coincedence due to the countries that they are born in, rather than the religion...

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#421182 - 08/21/06 05:35 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Silent Thoughts Offline
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Registered: 07/30/05
Posts: 314
It has to do with the culture in which we were brought up (and I believe it's a very different culture now, which is why there are far fewer well-known Jewish musicians, proportionally speakign). Back in the good ol' days, with quotas for how many Jews could attend a university and lots of anti-semetism all over, Jewish children were taught to study hard and work hard to pull themselves out of their generally deplorable situations.

Nowadays, lots of (American) Jewish kids (Americans are really all I can speak for) grow up in middle-class, safe environments. Parents probably don't push as hard, and the kids care much less to work hard and succeed.

That's all just my opinion, of course. You can make of it what you wish. \:\)

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#421183 - 08/21/06 05:37 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Have a look at a list of gentile pianists. I'm sure you'll find that we're still a very small minority.

Although there are some very big names in that list you found... (look at the same website for a list of famous Jewish conductors, violinists, and songwriters/composers).
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#421184 - 08/21/06 05:41 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Max W:
I'd say it is more by coincedence due to the countries that they are born in, rather than the religion... [/b]
But I can't imagine that the percentage of Jewish
people in countries in Europe/USA was/is anywhere nearly high enough to expect such an amazing result based only on country of birth.

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#421185 - 08/21/06 05:45 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
reonat Offline
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Registered: 07/25/06
Posts: 99
The real question is why do they all come from eastern europe countries ? What's so special about those people ? Is it the way they teach ? or is it just that those countries have the biggest musical heritage (classical music) in the world ?

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#421186 - 08/21/06 05:50 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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It would be interesting to compare the list I posted with the list that Philips used in their Great Pianists(around 100 CD)issue. I think around 40 of the pianists on my list made the cut for Great pianists of the 20th century(which had around 100 pianists I believe).

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#421187 - 08/21/06 06:04 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Contrapunctus Offline
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You forgot Daniel Pollack, Rosina Lhevinne's student. He's Jewish. Also, I think that RL was Dutch, not Jewish.
www.danielpollack.com
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#421188 - 08/21/06 06:06 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by reonat:
The real question is why do they all come from eastern europe countries ? What's so special about those people ? Is it the way they teach ? or is it just that those countries have the biggest musical heritage (classical music) in the world ? [/b]
Well, our 'classical' music is European 'classical' music. One wouldn't expect a ton of Asian, Australian, African, or American (North/South) musicians in our list of greats. During the 20th century, this changed a little bit, but the heritage for hundreds of years remained in Europe.


Other countries/cultures do have their own musical heritages; ours is not the only one. But in terms of our own heritage, it is from Europe.


And why so many Jews from Eastern Europe? That's where they all lived before the Holocaust. They used to all be in the Middle East thousands of years ago, and then when they were all finally exiled, they mostly settled to Eastern Europe.
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#421189 - 08/21/06 06:07 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Contrapunctus:
Also, I think that RL was Dutch, not Jewish.
[/b]
Are there no Dutch Jews? \:\)
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#421190 - 08/21/06 06:47 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Jewish culture has long placed a high degree of importance on culture. It's one of the reasons they were able to survive so long without a country of their own to live in.

And yes, they're probably from Europe because Europe invented classical music and the piano.

Noticing that European Jews play a lot of classical piano is a lot like noticing that a lot of Christians in Texas listen to country music. \:D
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#421191 - 08/21/06 06:49 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
reonat Offline
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Registered: 07/25/06
Posts: 99
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Noticing that European Jews play a lot of classical piano is a lot like noticing that a lot of Christians in Texas listen to country music. \:D [/b]
hahaha when you put it like that, the answer is pretty obvious indeed \:D

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#421192 - 08/21/06 07:21 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
It would be interesting to compare the list I posted with the list that Philips used in their Great Pianists(around 100 CD)issue. I think around 40 of the pianists on my list made the cut for Great pianists of the 20th century(which had around 100 pianists I believe). [/b]
I looked at the list that was used for Phllips Great Pianists of the 20th Century. Although there were around 100 CDs only 70 pianists were represented since some had multiple CDs. Of the 70 pianists on the list 31 were Jewish according to the list I posted at the top of the thread.

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#421193 - 08/21/06 07:43 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
oldcars Offline
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Registered: 05/11/06
Posts: 253
Loc: Philly burbs
An interesting tid bit regarding White Christmas. Arguably, one of the most recorded tunes in American history was written by Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant, whose father was a rabbi.
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#421194 - 08/21/06 07:49 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Piano*Dad Offline
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The problem with lists like that is that they are not an objective random sample of "the best." The concept of "the best" is itself not easily turned into a measurable concept. Clearly you can take a survey and use the results of the survey as data, but constructing a random sample of whatever population you're interested in surveying is not what these "great pianist" lists are all about.

I too suspect that jewish pianists (or musicians in general) would be overrepresented on any such objective list. I just haven't seen a list that I would identify as one based on a scientific sampling technique.
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#421195 - 08/22/06 02:00 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
gabytu Offline
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Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: Portland, Or.
It is not only a cultural phenonenon, but a surprise to me. I was aware of the number of Jewish violinists, but not so much aware of the pianists. I once commented to a Jewish friend, that so many of the greatest violinists were Jewish. She responded that the reason there were so many Jewish violinists, is that when they had to flee from persecution, it was easier to carry a violin with them than it was to carry a piano. She will be surprised when I show her the list of Jewish pianists.Gaby Tu

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#421196 - 08/22/06 02:10 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
C.V. Alkan Offline
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Registered: 04/06/05
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Loc: Denver, Colorado
Jews have historically excelled in intellectual and cultural persuits. There is a reason we have survived all these years of persectution. You'll also find that a disproportional number of Jews have attended top notch universities. We also tend to be very successful in business. Much of the anger Hitler roused was due to frustration at Jews controlling the economy. We are simply characterized as being hard working and, well, smart...
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#421197 - 08/22/06 09:03 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
oldcars Offline
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Registered: 05/11/06
Posts: 253
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 Quote:
Originally posted by C.V. Alkan:
Jews have historically excelled in intellectual and cultural persuits. There is a reason we have survived all these years of persectution. You'll also find that a disproportional number of Jews have attended top notch universities. We also tend to be very successful in business. Much of the anger Hitler roused was due to frustration at Jews controlling the economy. We are simply characterized as being hard working and, well, smart... [/b]
The Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Nobel Foundation of Sweden to men and women who have rendered the greatest service to humankind. Between 1901 and 2005, more than 750 Nobel Prizes were handed out. Of these, at least 157 are Jews.

Joel
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#421198 - 08/22/06 09:18 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
MAK Offline
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Registered: 08/14/04
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Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws.
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#421199 - 08/22/06 09:43 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws. [/b]
Or me.
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#421200 - 08/22/06 01:18 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Jawzz Offline
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Registered: 06/12/06
Posts: 115
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Wladyslaw Szpilman

You should see his movie, "The pianist"
Its about his life in the 2d world war, great piano pieces in it, it was the movie what made me play piano.

And by the way, who cares pianists are jewish or not? (im atheist)
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#421201 - 08/22/06 02:02 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Piano*Dad Offline
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Jawzz,

It is movies like The Pianist that remind us of what the world lost as a result of Europe's anti-semitism come to horrific fruition in Germany and Eastern Europe.

BTW, PW has had a number of threads on The Pianist in the past.

DF
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#421202 - 08/22/06 02:11 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Igor Stravinsky Offline
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Registered: 04/22/03
Posts: 231
What an interesting thread. I have been curious about this myself. I believe that in the following years we'll see much more Chinese pianists and then there will be a corresponding thread: "Why so many Chinese pianists?" Even as we are speaking, they are working on it.

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#421203 - 08/22/06 02:16 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 1047
Loc: United States
Chinese, Jewish, Black, Caucasian... Why does it matter so much? (And of all the forms of bigotry and discrimination, anti-Semitism is the one that I find truly impossible to understand.) Weird...
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#421204 - 08/22/06 03:24 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
193866 Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Hello... and ...I have a close Jewish friend, a piano teacher...His dad was one of the founders of the Portland Maine Symphony...A Russian Jewish Concert Master violinist...I asked him this question... He told me this "The Jewish people were not accepted in polite society for some years here in America...They learned that education and hard work was the answer to get ahead...The Jewish people were accepted in the American musical world.. Customs and heritage played a role too...Sandy B
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#421205 - 08/22/06 04:26 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
iconoclast Offline
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Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz

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#421206 - 08/22/06 05:09 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 1047
Loc: United States
 Quote:
Originally posted by iconoclast:
"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz [/b]
Which just goes to show that maybe he should have talked less and just played the piano. :rolleyes:
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#421207 - 08/22/06 06:51 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19351
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Frank_W:
 Quote:
Originally posted by iconoclast:
"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz [/b]
Which just goes to show that maybe he should have talked less and just played the piano. :rolleyes: [/b]
I think it's quite amusing and clever.

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#421208 - 08/22/06 07:03 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jawzz:
Wladyslaw Szpilman

You should see his movie, "The pianist"
Its about his life in the 2d world war, great piano pieces in it, it was the movie what made me play piano.

And by the way, who cares pianists are jewish or not? (im atheist) [/b]
Read his book, too.


Also read "The Inextinguishable Symphony." I don't remember the name of the author, but it's a great book (true story) about Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.
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#421209 - 08/22/06 07:58 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3914
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws. [/b]
(Ahem) And what do you suppose your in-laws think of you?

A very old, and very Jewish, joke:

Sam: So how's that new son-in-law of yours?

Harry: Not so good. He can't drink, and he can't play [i.e., play cards, not piano ;\) ].

Sam: And what's wrong with that? Lots of guys, they can't drink, and they can't play.

Harry: Yeah, but him - he can't drink, and he drinks, and he can't play, and he plays!
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