Charles Rosen - pianist

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Charles Rosen was born in New York in 1927 and left The Juilliard School of Music at the age of eleven to study piano with Moritz Rosenthal, a pupil of Liszt.

His New York debut in 1957 was followed in the same year by one of the first complete recordings of Debussy’s Etudes, which attracted high praise. Since then his career as a piano virtuoso has included many tours of the United States and Europe, playing with leading orchestras and giving recitals. He has made frequent appearances with the BBC and various European and American radio stations, and his television appearances include the presentation of two programmes on Beethoven’s last years for BBC TV. In September 1999 he broadcast ‘Rosen on Chopin’ a series of programmes to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death for BBC Radio 3. His performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra have included the BBC Promenade Concert premiere of Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto, and the first performance of Boulez’s Elats/Mutiples conducted by the composer.

Some of the most renowned composers have invited Charles Rosen to record their works: for Stravinsky he recorded Movements for Piano and Orchestra, for Elliott Carter the Double Concerto, and for Pierre Boulez all his piano works (of which the first album won the Edison Prize in Holland). Sony Classical has reissued his recording of the late Beethoven Sonatas, and Carlton Classics the Diabelli Variations: both original recordings received Grammy Award nominations. He has also recorded Elliott Carter’s piano works, the original editions of various piano works by Schumann, and two discs of Chopin.

Charles Rosen is also a distinguished writer on music. His publications include ‘The Classical Style’ (1971), which was published in five languages and won the USA National Book Award for Arts and Letters in 1972, and ‘The Romantic Generation’ (1995). An expanded edition of ‘the Classical Style’ with an additional chapter and CD insert containing Beethoven’s Op 106 and Op 110 was published in 1997. Recent publications include a collection of essays under the title ‘Critical Entertainments’ published by Harvard University Press, ‘Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas – A Short Companion’ published by Yale University Press (2001), and ‘Piano Notes, The Hidden World of the Pianist’ published by Allen Lane (2003).

The holder of a doctorate in French Literature from Princeton University, Charles Rosen holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Cambridge and Durham. He was appointed to the Charles Eliot Norton Chair at Harvard for 1980/81; this Chair, established in 1925, is offered every year to an outstanding individual in one the arts, alternating between literature and music. In 1988 he was the George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University, and he was Professor of Music and Social Thought at the University of Chicago between 1991 and 1996. He was recently appointed to the International Chair in Performance and Musicology at the Royal Northern College of Music for a period of three years.

last updated Feb 10, 2014