P0099. ELLY NEY: Sonata #27 in e; Sonata #32 in c – both recorded 26 Feb., 1952; Waldstein Sonata #21 in C –recorded 1951 (all Beethoven). (Germany) Bayer DaCapo BR 200 048, Rehearsals for Dortmund performances. Very long out-of-print, Final copy! - 4011563200482
“At 16 Ney won the Mendelssohn prize (1900)—in a contest of which the famous Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, was one of the judges. In 1903 she went to Vienna to study with Theodor Leschetizky and Liszt pupil Emil von Sauer, and at nineteen she began the series of concert tours that carried her all over Europe and convinced musical experts there that she was an extraordinary artist. Leschetizky believed that those with slender hands needed to bring more pressure to their touch in order to achieve a sensuous tone. Without any doubt, this issue was addressed in his work with the young German pianist and the results became an integral part of Ney's sound. Even in moments of bold display, however, the lessons learned from Leschetizky remained with her and the tone kept a rounded quality. The evidence of this may be found in her recordings.
Her first concert tour was in Holland, which became her home country for some years, as she married Willem Van Hoogstraaten, a well-known Dutch conductor, in 1911. Ney’s first marriage was ending in 1920, and later, for a short time, she was married to Paul F. Allais (1895–1990) of Chicago. In 1921 Ney and Hoogstraaten travelled to the United States where made her American début on 15 October 1921 in a recital of Beethoven’s works at Carnegie Hall.
Ney enjoyed great success in the United States and her reception was most enthusiastic. Later known for her anti-Semitic views, she had performed with the Jewish violinists Bronislaw Huberman and Carl Flesch in 1924, again at Carnegie Hall. The distinguished trio that she headed, along with cellist Ludwig Hoelscher and violinist Wilhelm Stross (later Max Strub), was founded in the final phase of the Weimar Republic. Even before 1933 Elly Ney had developed a personal idealism that was not without its eccentricities. Ney went with the times and adopted the Nazi ideology, becoming a heroic figure for a regime she wished to fully represent. In 1937, on her birthday, Adolf Hitler conferred on Elly Ney the honorary title of professor. Two years later she became director of the piano classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Ney voluntarily joined the Nazi party (#6088559) on 1 May, 1937. According to a report of the German newspaper Hamburg Abendblatt, Ney started her concerts with the Nazi salute.
Because of her omnipresence on Germany’s concert stages during the Nazi period, because of her unconcealed if totally naïve admiration for Hitler, and because she was quite old even then, Elly Ney had been nick-named ’Reichsklaviergrossmutter’ (official piano grandmother of the Reich). Hitler admired Elly Ney as she inaugurated a Hitler Youth Beethoven Festival in 1938.
Ney’s post-war career was haunted by her Nazi past. Because of Ney’s celebrity as ‘the Nazi pianist’, the city of Bonn imposed an official ban on her performing there. Her career, which had flourished in the earlier years of the century, never recovered outside of Germany. She died on 30 March 1968 at her home at Tutzing in South Germany at the age of 85.”
- Michael Waiblinger
“Indeed, within the Third Reich [Ney] was altruistic to the point of self-sacrifice, performing virtually free of charge for young German audiences; but they tended to be members of the Hitler Youth. On those occasions when she played for blue-collar audiences, it was for workers in the German Labor Front of Robert Ley; and when she entertained soldiers, they frequently included the Waffen SS. Her chosen medium was Beethoven, whose compositions she interpreted impressively, and after whom she styled herself physically, displaying that same heroic facial expression and that well-known untamed mane. Beethoven, of course, was in vogue in the Third Reich; he stood for the heroic spirit with which Hitler himself identified.”
- Michael H. Kater, THE TWISTED MUSE, MUSICIANS AND THEIR MUSIC IN THE THIRD REICH, p.31