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Curzon studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the prestigious Macfarren Gold Medal in 1924, at the age of 17, Curzon was the youngest pupil ever to have been accepted into the senior school. In the same year he was made one of seven sub-professors, and completed his studies in 1926.
His public debut was at a Prom in 1923, when he played a Bach triple concerto under Henry J. Wood. Between 1928 and 1930 he took further instruction from Artur Schnabel in Berlin. He then studied under Wanda Landowska and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He toured throughout Europe and the United States.
Curzon was particularly well known for his interpretations of Mozart and Schubert. Even though he left a considerable recording legacy, his distaste for recordings was well known, and he very often prohibited the release to the public of records which he felt were not up to his best standard. In his earlier years he had been noted for his championing of modern music; Lennox Berkeley's Piano Sonata is dedicated to him. Later, he tended to stay with the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Austro-German repertoire.
In 1940 Edward Clark offered him the British premiere of Khachaturian's Piano Concerto in D-flat, with only a month's notice, but he was very busy and said he would not be able to learn it in time; he suggested Moura Lympany in his place.
Family and personal life
Little Clifford was supposed to be in bed but he never was, he was out sitting on the landing, listening to my uncle playing through the well of the stairway of my father's old house, and so the first [pieces of] music I really heard were these immortal melodies of Ketèlbey.
In 1931 Curzon married the American harpsichordist and pianist, Lucille Wallace. The Curzons had no children of their own, but when the great soprano Maria Cebotari died (aged 39) in Vienna in 1949, they adopted her two orphaned sons.
Curzon died in September 1982, aged 75. He is buried next to his wife in the churchyard of St Patrick's, Patterdale, near their house in the Lake District. On his gravestone are inscribed the opening words of Schubert's "An die Musik": "Du holde Kunst" (O fairest art).
- Recordings and discography (Youngrok Lee's Classical Music page)
- Sir Clifford Curzon at Find a Grave