Richard and John Contiguglia
The Contiguglia brothers are identical twins. They were born in Auburn, New York, of Italian immigrant parents, who already had five children including another set of twins. They were playing duets by the age of 5. At age 12, in the midst of a solo piano recital by Percy Grainger, they performed some piano-duo pieces. After that concert, Grainger presented them with signed copies of some of his two-piano scores. They have since championed Grainger's music in concert and on record.
They gained academic degrees from Yale University, studying piano with Bruce Simonds, followed by four years of study in London with Dame Myra Hess, who asked them to devote their lives to making the Franz Schubert piano duets better known. Their debut was at the Wigmore Hall in London in 1962 and they were immediately noticed by critics. Since then they have carved out an impressive international touring and recording schedule. They have performed with many orchestras both in the United States and overseas, and have appeared in recital and concert in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
The brothers Contiguglia have rediscovered, performed and recorded a number of unusual and forgotten works from the duo-piano repertoire, including all the Schubert duets and duos. They gave the New York premiere of Max Bruch's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in A flat minor. Other modern-day premiere performance or world premiere recordings include Bartók's Suite for Two Pianos, Op. 4b, and Liszt's two-piano or piano duo versions of his operatic fantasies on Norma, Don Giovanni and La sonnambula. There was also Liszt's unpublished Grosses Konzertstück über Mendelssohns "Lieder ohne Worte", premiered in the Netherlands. Other unusual repertoire includes Mozart's Concerto for Three Pianos and Orchestra in Mozart's own arrangement for two pianos and orchestra; and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana for two pianos, percussion, chorus and soloists. They are possibly the first duo ever to devote an entire program to Bartók's complete works for two pianos.
They have a special fondness for the music of Percy Grainger and have given many performances of his original works and arrangements, including the two-piano Fantasy on George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. In 1993 they commissioned Tom Kochan to arrange the work as a Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, which was premiered in 1995.
They originally recorded on the Connoisseur record label. Later they created their own record company, Gemini CD Classics, and have released their own recordings of Schubert, Liszt and Gershwin-Grainger on this label. They have re-recorded the Beethoven-Liszt 9th Symphony for Gemini.