James Kwast

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James Kwast

James Kwast (23 November 1852 – 31 October 1927) was a Dutch-German pianist and renowned teacher of many other notable pianists. He was also a minor composer and editor.


Jacob James Kwast was born in Nijkerk, Netherlands, in 1852. After studies with his father and Ferdinand Böhme in his home country,[1] he became a student of Carl Reinecke at the Leipzig Conservatory, and had later studies in Berlin under Theodor Kullak, and Brussels under Louis Brassin and François-Auguste Gevaert. He settled in Germany in 1883, initially as a teacher at the Cologne Conservatory, and later at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt and the Klindworth-Scharwenka (1903–06) and Stern conservatories in Berlin.

He participated in the first performance in England of Brahms’s Piano Trio in C minor, with Carl Fuchs and Carl Deichmann.[2]

Clara Schumann played her last public concert in Frankfurt on 12 March 1891. The last work she played was Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn, in the piano-duet version, with Kwast as her partner.[3]

He died in Berlin in 1927, aged 74.


His reputation as a teacher reached far and wide. The list of his students includes:


He wrote a piano concerto and various piano pieces, as well as piano transcriptions of Bach organ works. He edited the keyboard works of Joseph Haydn.

Personal life[edit]

His first wife was Antonie (“Tony”), the daughter of Ferdinand Hiller. Their daughter Mimi Kwast married his pupil, the composer Hans Pfitzner.

He later married a pupil of his, Frida Hodapp (13 August 1880 - 14 September 1949). She was also a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, the soloist in the first performance of Busoni's Concertino, and the dedicatee of Max Reger's F minor Concerto, which she premiered in 1910. She also premiered Reger's Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Telemann, Op. 134, on 14 March 1915 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. The work was dedicated to her husband.[9]

His brother was the conductor Jan Albert Kwast (Quast).


  1. ^ Bach cantatas
  2. ^ Archives Hub
  3. ^ Peter Clive. Brahms and His World: A Biographical Dictionary, p. 403. Retrieved 23 October 2014
  4. ^ Orel Foundation
  5. ^ Otto Klemperer site
  6. ^ Burle Marx Musica Society
  7. ^ Jewish Women Encyclopedia
  8. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zilcher, Hermann". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians. (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1946. ISBN 0-02-870240-9. 
  9. ^ Liner notes to Oryx Romantic 1824, recording by Hugo Steurer


  • Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed (1954), ed. Eric Blom, Vol IV, p. 880