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Rosalyn Tureck (December 14, 1914 – July 17, 2003) was an American pianist and harpsichordist who was particularly associated with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, she had a wide-ranging repertoire that included works by composers including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Frédéric Chopin, as well as more modern composers such as David Diamond, Luigi Dallapiccola, and William Schuman. Diamond's Piano Sonata No. 1 was inspired by Tureck's playing.
Rosalyn Tureck was born in Chicago, Illinois. The first of her teachers to recognize her special gifts for playing the music of Bach was the Javanese-born Dutch pianist Jan Chiapusso, who gave her twice-weekly lessons in Chicago from 1929-31 and also introduced her to the sounds of exotic instruments and ensembles such as the Javanese gamelan.
She continued her musical studies in Chicago with pianist and harpsichordist Gavin Williamson. She later studied at the Juilliard School in New York City, where one of her teachers was Leon Theremin. She made her debut at Carnegie Hall playing the electronic instrument invented by Theremin, the eponymously named theremin. Later in her career, she joined the faculty at Juilliard as a teacher.
For a while she followed Wanda Landowska in playing Bach's keyboard music on a harpsichord but later returned to playing the piano. In 1970, Tureck performed in Boston for the Peabody Mason Concert series. She was an honorary fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford.
In a CBC radio special on Glenn Gould, the host told Tureck that Gould cited her as his "only" influence. She responded by saying she knew that she was an influence and that it was very kind of him to say so.
She died in New York City in 2003, aged 89. Her scores and recordings were given to the Music Division and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, both divisions of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
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- Saul Bellow: Letters, New York: Viking Adult, 2010. BELLOW to TURECK, Chicago, September 21, 1967: Dear Rosalyn, Wonderful of you to write. Yours was just the sort of letter I needed at a trying moment. As an admirer of your music, I don't like to miss your concert. The odd fact is, however, that I have at last decided to visit Africa, and I have accepted an assignment from HOLIDAY to go and hover over the sources of the Nile in a helicopter and to write impressions or effusions. I leave just before Thanksgiving and return after Christmas, which lets me out of a couple of trying holidays, but makes it impossible for me to hear you, alas. We shall keep in touch, I hope, and see a good deal of each other yet. Best wishes, [Saul].
- Boston Herald Traveler, December 10, 1970, Harry Neville, "All-Bach recital by Miss Tureck"
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