P1028. GUIOMAR NOVAËS, w.Szell Cond. NYPO: Concerto #2 in f (Chopin), Live Performance, 7 Jan., 1951; Concerto #4 in G (Beethoven), Live Performance, 21 Dec., 1952. (E.U.) Archipel 0558. [Two extraordinarily sensitive and glorious performances . . . in the glory of the Carnegie Hall acoustic!] - 4035122405583
“Guiomar Novaës and Claudio Arrau were the most celebrated pianists born in South America immediately before and after 1900 -- she in Brazil in 1895, he in Chile, in 1903. They were first to win international acclaim since Venezuelan-born Teresa Carreño (1853-1917), who had studied with Gottschalk. In São Paulo, where the family had moved from a provincial village soon after her birth, she revealed precocity at age four, and began studying at age seven with Luigi Chiafarelli, a Busoni pupil. He helped her developed the basics of tonal nuance, legato, and pedaling that won her a grant from the Brazilian government to study in Paris. At the Conservatoire in 1909 she placed first among 388 candidates for admission. The jurors were Fauré, Moritz Moszkowski, and Debussy, who wrote to his friend and amanuensis André Caplet that ‘the most artistic...was a young Brazilian girl of 13. She's not beautiful, but her eyes are 'drunk with music' and she has the ability to cut herself off from her surroundings, which is the rare but characteristic mark of the artist’. She was assigned to the class of Isidor Philipp (1863-1958), formerly a pupil of Saint-Saëns, and graduated two years later with a First Prize. Novaës made her formal début that same year with the Châtelet Orchestra conducted by Gabriel Pierné, then toured throughout Western Europe until the outbreak of WWI. Hardly had she returned to São Paulo when an invitation came from the U.S. She made her North American début in Aeolian Hall, New York, on 11 November, 1915, and returned often during the next 57 years. Novaës played her U.S. farewell at Hunter College in 1972. To the end, her tone remained mellifluous, her touch varied, her pedaling a wonder, and her legato special, even after sheer strength had ebbed.
In 1922, she married the Brazilian architect and composer Octavio Pinto (1890-1950), who had also studied with Philipp. Novaës appeared with every major U.S. orchestra as well as abroad. In England, Queen Elizabeth invited her to play the opening recital in the new London hall bearing her name on 30 April, 1967 -- a program that featured Novaës' beloved Mozart and Chopin, Beethoven, and Debussy.
Her recorded repertoire was astonishing, starting with the Victor Company in 1919 through 1927, Duo-Art piano rolls in the 1920's, then Columbia until 1948. In Vienna and Bamberg after WWII, she recorded 11 concerti for Vox (two each of the Beethoven Fourth and the Schumann a minor, first with Klemperer, then with Hans Swarowsky). They ranged from Mozart to Falla's NIGHTS IN THE GARDENS OF SPAIN, plus dozens of solo works including the complete waltzes, études, nocturnes, and préludes of Chopin, several of Schumann's major solo works, Book I of Debussy's Préludes, five Beethoven sonatas, and her husband's Scenas Infantis. She also recorded Liszt, Chopin and Debussy for London; Chopin and Beethoven (Op. 111 for the first time) on Vanguard, and several Brazilian composers on Fermata. International Piano Archives issued a live recording of Gottschalk's ‘Grand Fantasy on the Brazilian National Anthem’ from a Hunter College concert in 1970, one year after Vox/Turnabout released the same music from a Pan-American Union concert marking the centennial of Gottschalk's death. Novaës died in her native Brazil at age 84, just seven years after her retirement.”
- Roger Dettmer, allmusic.com
"I have often expressed the opinion that the two most musical nations on the American continent are Brazil and Mexico….in Brazil I met a few young promising composers and two brilliant pianists, Antonietta Rudge and Guiomar Novaës; Miss Novaës later made a name for herself in Paris and New York….Luigi Schiafarelli [Luigi Chiafarelli], a great piano teacher whose fame attracted even pupils from abroad, was considered the equal of Isidor Philipp or Busoni. Both Novaës and Rudge were his pupils….these were good days in São Paulo!”
- Arthur Rubinstein, MY MANY YEARS, p.31
"Novaës’ playing was never cut and dried….she seldom played the same piece of music twice the same way. Each time, she brought to it a slightly different point of view, and each time the new approach seemed perfectly natural and inevitable….Part of her appeal was in her natural approach to the keyboard. She was one of the new pianists about whom one felt that the instrument was a welded extension of her arms and fingers. A more natural, relaxed, effortless style could not be found anywhere. Her tone, in its color and subtlety, recalled the magic note-spinning of the great romantic pianists three generations [before her], in which Novaës [had been] trained.”