Heinrich Neuhaus

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Heinrich Neuhaus 1962

Heinrich Gustavovich Neuhaus (Russian: Ге́нрих Густа́вович Нейга́уз, Genrikh Gustavovič Nejgauz; 12 April [O.S. 31 March] 1888 – October 10, 1964) was a Soviet pianist and pedagogue of German extraction. He taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1922 to 1964. He was made a People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1956. His pedagogic book The Art of Piano Playing (1958) is regarded as one of the most authoritative and most widely used treatments on the subject. He died in Moscow in 1964.

The house where Heinrich Neuhaus was born. Kirovohrad

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Elisavetgrad (known since 2016 as Kropyvnytskyi), in present-day Ukraine. Although both his parents were piano teachers, he was largely self-taught. The biggest influences on his early artistic development came from his second cousin Karol Szymanowski (tutored by Heinrich's father, Gustav Neuhaus) and especially his uncle Felix Blumenfeld on his visits to his sisters' home. He also received some lessons from Aleksander Michałowski.[1] In 1902 he gave a recital in Elisavetgrad with the 11-year-old Mischa Elman and in 1904 gave concerts in Dortmund, Bonn, Cologne and Berlin. Subsequently he studied with Leopold Godowsky in Berlin and from 1909 until the outbreak of World War I at his master classes in Vienna Academy of Music.

In 1912, Neuhaus attempted suicide by cutting a wrist. He had attended a concert in Berlin in which Arthur Rubinstein premiered his good friend Karol Szymanowski's piano sonata, and he left a suicide note saying that the concert had made clear to him that he would never be successful as a composer or a pianist and that he could not go on living, and was going to Florence, Italy to die. Szymanowski and Rubinstein hastily followed Neuhaus to Florence and tracked him down to a hospital, where he was recovering.[2]

In 1914 Neuhaus started teaching in Elisavetgrad and later Tbilisi (Tiflis) and Kiev (where he befriended Vladimir Horowitz). After having been temporarily paralyzed, Neuhaus was forced to halt his concert career in the interests of his pedagogical activities. In 1922 he began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory where he was also director between 1935 and 1937. When the Germans approached Moscow in 1941, he was imprisoned on suspicion of being a German spy, but released eight months later under pressure from Dmitri Shostakovich, Emil Gilels and others. His pupils there included Yakov Zak, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Anatoly Vedernikov, Tikhon Khrennikov, Galina Melikhova, Yevgeny Malinin, Lev Naumov, Tamara Guseva, Ryszard Bakst, Teodor Gutman, Vera Gornostayeva, Alexander Slobodyanik, Leonid Brumberg, Igor Zhukov, Oleg Boshniakovich, Anton Ginsburg, Valery Kastelsky, Gérard Frémy, Zdeněk Hnát, Eliso Virsaladze, Alexei Lubimov, Aleksey Nasedkin, Vladimir Krainev, Berta Maranz, Evgeny Mogilevsky, Amalya Baiburtyan, Radu Lupu, Valentina Kameníková, Victor Derevianko, Vera Razumovskaya and Nina Svetlanova.


Neuhaus was renowned for the poetic magnetism of his playing and for his artistic refinement. He was a lifelong friend of Boris Pasternak, and Osip Mandelshtam expressed his admiration for Neuhaus's playing in a poem. Stanislav Neuhaus, Heinrich's son by his first wife Zinaida (who married Pasternak in 1931), was also a noted pianist; Stanislav Bunin is his grandson.


  1. ^ J. Methuen-Campbell, Chopin Playing from the Composer to the Present Day (Gollancz, London 1981), 73.
  2. ^ Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years (Knopf, 1973), 372.

Further reading[edit]

  • Neuhaus, Heinrich (1998). The Art of Piano Playing. London: Kahn & Averill. ISBN 1-871-08245-5. 
  • Barnes, Christopher (2007). The Russian Piano School. London: Kahn & Averill. ISBN 1-871-08288-9. 

External links[edit]