Abbey Simon

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Abbey Simon
Abbey Simon.jpg
Background information
Born (1922-01-08) January 8, 1922 (age 93)
Genres Classical
Instruments Piano
Years active 1940 - Present

Abbey Simon (born January 8, 1922, New York) is an American classical pianist. He was a pupil of Josef Hofmann at the Curtis Institute and a winner of the Naumberg Competition in 1940. He has been called a "supervirtuoso" by the New York Times.


Simon began lessons with David Saperton at the age of five. At the age of eight, Simon was accepted by Josef Hofmann as a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he trained with classmates Jorge Bolet and Sidney Foster. Simon also took lessons from Leopold Godowsky[1] and Harold Bauer. Shortly after graduation, he debuted at the Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He was the winner of the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1940.

Professional career[edit]

The New York Times[2] has hailed Simon as a "supervirtuoso" who thrives on the "harder" piano literature while being less successful with "deeper and more intense" music. Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer wrote[citation needed], "Simon's recital offered more than a glimpse into the fabled golden age of piano playing... His virtuosity is marked not only by speed, power, lightness and accuracy but also by intricate interplay of voices and lambent colors."

Simon has toured in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Trenton Symphony Orchestra.

Simon has given masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and the Geneva Conservatory. He has served on the faculties of Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. His students include pianists Frederic Chiu, Karen Shaw, John Kamitsuka, Erika Nickrenz, Richard Dowling, Roger Wright, Andrew Cooperstock, David Korevaar, Terence Yung and Martha Argerich.[3]

Simon is a long-standing jury member of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the Geneva International Piano Competition, the Leeds International Piano Competition, the Sydney International Piano Competition, and the South Africa International Piano Competition.

Simon currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and Houston, Texas where he is currently Distinguished Cullen Professor of Piano at the Moores School of Music.

Abbey Simon is a Yamaha Artist.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Walter Naumburg Prize, (1940)
  • National Orchestral Award
  • Federation of Music Prize
  • Harriet Cohen Medal
  • Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Medal
  • Ford Foundation Award
  • Distinguished Teacher Award at the Moores School of Music


  • Albeniz-Godowsky:
    • Triana from "Iberia" (DANACORD DACOCD 379)
  • Beethoven:
    • Quintet for piano and winds (VOX-Turnabout TVC 37004)
  • Brahms:
    • Concerto No. 1 in D-minor (Prize Winning Recording of a live performance, Buenos-Aires, dir. Juan-Jose Castro)
    • Variations on a theme by Paganini, Op. 35 (VOX VU 9004)
    • Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 & Variations on a theme by Paganini (PHILIPS A 00195 L)
    • Three pieces for piano solo (HMV)
    • F minor Sonata, Op. 5 (HMV)
    • Intermezzi, Capriccios, Fantasies and Rhapsodies (PHILIPS)
  • Chopin:
    • The Four Scherzi (VOX VU 9030)
    • The Four Ballades, Impromptus, and Berceuse (VOX VU 9031)
    • The Sonatas and Barcarolle (VOX VU 9032)
    • Etudes, Op.10 & 25 (VOX VU 9033)
    • The Complete Waltzes, Fantasie & Variations Brillantes (VOX VU 9034)
    • Nocturnes (complete) (VOX CDX 5146)
    • Preludes (VOX)
    • The Piano Concertos (HMV, EMI D 13175Z) (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, dir. Sir Eugene Goossens)
    • The Complete Orchestral Works (VOX 5002) (Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, dir. Heribert Beissel)
  • Dohnanyi:
    • Variations on a Nursery Song (UNESCO classics DCL707202)
  • Franck:
    • Prélude, Chorale and Fugue (HMV)
  • Grieg:
    • Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 (Philips)
  • Liszt:
    • Six Grandes Etudes de Paganini (VOX VU 9004)
    • Etude in D-flat major (Un Sospiro) (HMV)
  • Mendelssohn:
    • 17 Variations Sérieuses (VOX TVS 34460)
  • Rachmaninoff:
    • The Complete Works for Piano & Orchestra (VOX CDX 5008) (St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, dir. Leonard Slatkin)
    • Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (To be released) (Japan Philharm. Orchestra, dir. Akeo Watanabe)
  • Ravel:
    • Piano Concerto in G (VOX CDX 5031)
    • Piano Concerto in D for the Left Hand (VOX CDX 5032) (Orchestre de Radio-Luxembourg, Dir. Louis de Froment)
    • Complete Works for Piano Solo (VOX CDX 5012)
  • Saint-Saëns:
    • Le Carnaval des Animaux (EMI Classics DCL 707202) (With Hephzibah Menuhin and the Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Efrem Kurz)
  • Schumann:
    • Variations on the name ABEGG, Kreisleriana, Arabesque, Kinderscenen (DANTE PSG 6949)
    • Carnaval, Op. 9 & Fantasy in C, Op. 17 (VOX ACD 8192)
  • Transcriptions:
    • by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Godowsky, Chasins (VOX 8204)


  1. ^ Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Seventh Edition, Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky, Schimer Books, New York, 1984
  2. ^ Schonberg, Harold C. "Simon Shapes Pianistic Elements; The Program", The New York Times, May 4, 1978
  3. ^ Minaldi, Donald Musician of the Year 2001 Martha Argerich, "Musical America", 2001

External links[edit]