Arthur Friedheim

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Friedheim in 1912

Arthur Friedheim (Russian: Артур Фридхайм, 26 October 1859  – 19 October 1932) was a Russian-born pianist, conductor and composer who was one of Franz Liszt's foremost pupils. One of Friedheim's students was Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, the mother of 20th-century piano virtuoso Van Cliburn.


Friedheim was born in Saint Petersburg in 1859. He began serious study of music at age eight. He later studied for a year with noted pianist Anton Rubinstein but disapproved of Rubinstein's disorganized teaching methods and went instead to Liszt.[1]

At first Liszt did not like Friedheim's playing, though he admitted the individuality of Friedheim's style. Harold C. Schonberg asserts in his book The Great Pianists that another reason Liszt may have been hesitant was that Friedheim had studied with Rubinstein, of whom Liszt may not have been terribly fond. Friedheim had to play before Liszt several times before becoming accepted as a pupil in 1880. Liszt eventually became fond enough of Friedheim to make him his secretary. Friedheim became fond enough of Liszt to copy many of his mannerisms, many of which were noted by pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni after hearing him play in 1883.[2] Friedheim also gained orchestral experience conducting in theaters and opera houses in Germany.[1]

Between 1891 and 1895 Friedheim taught and played in the United States. After that he spent some time in London and until 1904 taught at the Manchester College of Music. He conducted in Munich from 1908 to 1911, settled in the United States in 1915 before going to Toronto, Canada, in 1921 to become a professor at the Canadian Academy of Music.[1] Before then, he was offered the conductorship of the New York Philharmonic in 1898 and 1911. He was a good conductor but turned down the offer both times, preferring to concentrate on the piano.[2] He died in New York City in 1932.

Musical works[edit]

Friedheim's pianism was considered awesome technically but he was most noted for the clarity and repose in his interpretations of Liszt's music. Unfortunately, the best qualities of his playing only survive in a fragmentary manner in the few gramophone recordings he made.[1] He made three recordings for Columbia around 1912. One of these is considered a curiosity—a rendition of the funeral march from Chopin's Second Piano Sonata in which Friedheim plays to the end of the trio and, having no more room on the record, simply stops. He was apparently content to record just two-thirds of the piece.[2]

Friedheim wrote a psychological study of Liszt and many reminiscences, which were collected by his pupil Theodore Bullock under the title Life and Liszt. Along with editing the works of Frédéric Chopin, Friedheim wrote a number of works, although few of them were published and many of the manuscripts are now lost. His operas include The Last Days of Pompeii (not performed), Alexander and Thais and Die Tanzerin; two others, The Christmas and Giulia Gonzaga, were left unfinished. He wrote two piano concertos, an orchestral overture A Hero of our Times and a march E pluribus unum.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Moore, 6:849.
  2. ^ a b c Schonberg, 323.


  • ed. Sadie, Stanley, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, First Edition (London, Macmillian, 1980). ISBN 0-333-23111-2
    • Moore, Jerrold Northrop, "Friedheim, Arthur"
  • Schonberg, Harold C., The Great Pianists (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987, 1963). ISBN 0-671-64200-6
  • Friedheim, Arthur, Life and Liszt in Remembering Franz Liszt (New York, Limelight Editions, 1987). ISBN 978-0-87910-113-8
  • Carter, Gerard and Adler, Martin, Liszt Piano Sonata Monographs - Arthur Friedheim's Recently Discovered Roll Recording (Sydney, Wensleydale Press, 2011). ISBN 978-3-86931-795-3
  • Carter, Gerard (ed.) and Adler, Martin (ed.), Facsimile of Arthur Friedheim's Edition of Franz Liszt's Sonata in B minor (Sydney, Wensleydale Press, 2011). ISBN 978-3-8442-0890-0

External links[edit]