C1484. WILLIAM STEINBERG Cond. Pittsburgh S.O.: Symphony #2 in B-flat (Schubert); Scherzo capriccioso, Op.66 (Dvorák); Mazeppa; w.ANDRE WATTS (Pf.): Totentanz (both Liszt). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-406, Live Performance, 1 Nov., 1972, Carnegie Hall. [Obviously recorded from the right side of Carnegie Hall, this recording uniquely captures the Carnegie Hall acoustic from an unusual perspective!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“André Watts has successfully extended an initial burst of publicity into decades of popular success and critical acclaim. He brings a marked lyrical quality to the standard piano repertory. Born on a United States Army base in Nuremberg, part of the U.S. Occupied Zone of Germany in the years following World War II, he was the son of an American soldier who had married a Hungarian woman. His mother gave André his first piano lessons. When the family returned to the U.S. they settled in Philadelphia, and Watts continued his piano studies. At the age of nine he made his public début in a children's concert, playing Haydn's D major Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He continued studies at the Philadelphia Music Academy, where his teachers were Doris Bawden and Clement Petrillo.
Watts was 14 when he made his official Philadelphia Orchestra début, in César Franck's ‘Symphonic Variations’. His real breakthrough came two years later when Leonard Bernstein asked him to appear on a New York Philharmonic Young People's Concert that was broadcast nationwide. Watts became a national sensation in the Liszt E flat Concerto, which he played with complete technical mastery and self-assurance. Two weeks later, Glenn Gould was forced to cancel a regular subscription concert due to illness. Bernstein called on Watts as a last-minute replacement, and he reprised the Liszt concerto to the approval of New York's tough critics and audiences. Watts then settled on the great teacher and pianist Leon Fleisher as his mentor, emerging as a complete pianist and artist. Watts began to build an international reputation with appearances in London and at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, all the while completing a degree at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.
After making his Carnegie Hall solo début in New York at the age of 20, Watts celebrated his 21st birthday by playing Brahms' Piano Concerto #2 with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to Nuremberg for a recital in 1970 and was hailed as a returning native son. Watts has often been selected to perform at important commemorative events, playing for example at a concert in honor of Richard Nixon's first inauguration as president in 1969. In 1976 a Watts recital was featured on the U.S. PBS network's ‘Live from Lincoln Center’ program; it was the first full-length piano recital ever broadcast on television, and, with his telegenic looks, he remained a favorite of broadcast audiences. In 2000 he appeared internationally on television in a program celebrating the Philadelphia Orchestra's centennial.
Watts specializes in the standard repertory from Beethoven through Rachmaninov, often performing Mozart and Scarlatti as well. He has been an unusually frequent recipient of prestigious prizes, becoming (at 26) the youngest person ever to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University and winning the Avery Fisher Prize in 1988. Watts remains active as a performer, recording artist, and teacher; beginning in 2000 he served as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland. He has recorded in recent years primarily for the Telarc and Angel/EMI labels, and a double-CD release in the Philips ‘Great Pianists of the 20th Century’ series, featuring music by composers ranging from Beethoven to Gershwin, serves as a good introduction to his work and retrospective appreciation of his stature.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“William Steinberg (born Wilhelm Hans Steinberg) was a conductor and an exceptional orchestra builder and interpreter of the Romantic to early-twentieth century repertory. He studied at Cologne Conservatory with Franz Bölsche in music theory, Lazzaro Uzielli in piano, and Hermann Abendroth in conducting. He won the Wüllner prize in conducting in his graduation year of 1920.
He obtained a position conducting at Cologne Opera, where he was assistant to Otto Klemperer. When Klemperer left in 1924, Steinberg received the appointment as Principal Conductor. In 1925 he accepted the post of conductor of the German Theater in Prague. In 1929 he became musical director of the Frankfurt Opera. His tenure there was marked by an interest in modern opera, and his productions included Berg's WOZZECK, Schoenberg's VON HEUTE AUF MORGEN, Antheil's TRANSATLANTIC, and Weill's AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY.
The advent of Nazi rule in 1933 effectively ended his German career. He was restricted to conducting concerts for the Jewish Culture League in Frankfurt and Berlin. This was an insidious creation of the Nazis that both furthered its institutionalized anti-Semitism by creating a segregated organization for a segregated orchestra, while preserving the illusion that the Nazis goals went no further than ethnic separation. Steinberg left Germany in 1936 for Palestine, where he conducted the new orchestra there that eventually became the Israel Philharmonic. The Palestine Philharmonic's first concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. After working with Steinberg, Toscanini invited him to go to the United States as associate conductor of his NBC Symphony Orchestra. Steinberg took up that position in 1938.
Toscanini and Klemperer were Steinberg's two mentors. He adopted their clear, faithful approach to the classic scores and, like Klemperer, lost much of his early interest in modern music. Steinberg guest conducted regularly during his tenure with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In 1945 he became Music Director of the Buffalo (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1952 he obtained the major appointment of his career, as music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He restored that orchestra to an artistic high point. Concurrently, he was musical director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1958 - 1960).
In 1960 he scored a great success guest conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was the preferred choice of its board for their next music director, as Charles Münch was stepping down from the position. However, RCA, the orchestra's record company, successfully pressured them to appoint Erich Leinsdorf, already on their roster of conductors. After Leinsdorf's tenure, one of mixed success, ended, they did appoint Steinberg to the post effective 1969. This was also only a partial success, because then health problems interfered with his abilities and caused frequent substitutions. He left the position in 1972 and restricted his activities.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com