Theodor Leschetizky

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Theodor Leschetizky
Born (1830-06-22)22 June 1830
Lancut, Poland
Died 14 November 1915(1915-11-14) (aged 85)
Dresden, Germany

Theodor Hermann Leschetizky (22 June 1830 – 14 November 1915) (sometimes spelled Leschetitzky,[1] in Polish: Teodor Leszetycki) was a Polish pianist, professor and composer born in Łańcut, then Landshut in the kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, also known as Austrian Poland, a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy.


Theodor Leschetizky was born on 22 June 1830 at the estate of the family of Count Potocki in Lancut, Poland. Joseph Leschetizky, his father, was a gifted pianist and music teacher of Viennese birth. His mother Thérèse von Ullmann was a gifted singer of German origin. His father gave him his first piano lessons and then took him to Vienna to study with Carl Czerny. At age eleven, he performed a Czerny piano concerto in Łańcut, with Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, the son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, conducting. At the age of fifteen he started to tutor his first students. By the age of eighteen he was a well-known virtuoso in Vienna and beyond. His composition teacher was Simon Sechter, an eminent professor who was the teacher of many other successful musicians.

At the invitation of his friend Anton Rubinstein, he went to St. Petersburg to teach in the court of the Grand Duchess Yelena Pavlovna. Remaining there from 1852 to 1877, he was head of the piano department and one of the founders of the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music in 1862. While in Russia he married one of his most famous students, Anna Essipova, the second of his four wives, with whom he had two children; one of them was his daughter, the well-known singer and teacher, Theresa, the other was his son Robert.

In 1878 he returned to Vienna and began teaching there, creating one of the most eminent private piano schools in the world. He taught Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Artur Schnabel, Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, Mieczysław Horszowski, Alexander Brailowsky, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Katharine Goodson, Elly Ney, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Mark Hambourg, Isabelle Vengerova and a host of many other wonderful pianists in his villa in the Währing Cottage District on Karl-Ludwig-Straße, Vienna. See the list of Leschetizky's students. Promising pianists flocked to him, coming from all over the world, with a great many from the United States, among them also classical singer Clara Clemens, the daughter of Mark Twain.

He taught until the age of 85, leaving for Dresden in 1915. He died on 14 November 1915 in Dresden.[2]


Leschetizky's motto: "No life without art, no art without life!"

Leschetizky's descendants[edit]

He was survived by a son, Robert (Dresden), whose family returned to Bad Ischl after his death. His descendants still live in Bad Ischl and there is a Leschetizky Villa on Leschetizky-Straβe, the summer resort where he often vacationed with his friend Johannes Brahms.

Leschetizky had a granddaughter, Ilse Leschetizky (1910–1997), who was a distinguished pianist and teacher. One of her daughters, Margret Tautschnig, continues the Leschetizky tradition with the Leschetizky-Verein Österreich in Bad Ischl. This organisation was co-founded by the Belgian pianist Peter Ritzen.

Leschetizky the composer[edit]

Leschetizky composed over a hundred characteristic piano pieces, two operas: Die Brüder von San Marco and Die Erste Falte, thirteen songs and a one-movement piano concerto. Opus numbers were given to 49 works.

Although his piano pieces are primarily smaller works in the salon music vein, they are expressively lyrical on the one hand while exploiting the piano's technical capabilities to great effect on the other. Most of his music has been out of print since the early twentieth century except for the Andante Finale, Op. 13 (a paraphrase for piano left hand on the famous sextet from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti); and Les deux alouettes, Op. 2, No. 1.

Leschetizky the teacher[edit]

His most important legacy is as the main teacher of numerous great pianists such as Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Ernesto Bérumen, Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, Alexander Brailowsky, Annette Essipoff, Józef Śliwiński, Auguste de Radwan, Ignaz Friedman, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Katherine Goodson, Mark Hambourg, Frank La Forge, Richard Singer, Helen Hopekirk, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Ethel Leginska, Artur Schnabel, John Powell, Elly Ney, Paul Wittgenstein, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Frank Merrick, Marie Novello, Aline van Barentzen, and many others.[3][4]


  • In February 1906, Leschetizky recorded twelve piano rolls for Welte-Mignon, including seven of his own compositions.
  • Piano Concerto, Piano works - Hubert Rutkowski, piano Acte Préalable AP0191, © 2008 (CD)
  • Piano Concerto, op.9; Overture to "Die erste Falte/ Contes de Jeunesses" - Peter Ritzen, piano Naxos Records 8.223803 (CD)
  • Piano Works (with the famous left hand piece Andante Finale, op.13) - Peter Ritzen, piano Naxos Records 8.223525 (CD)
  • Leschetizky Piano Music Centaur CRC2319


  • Malwine Brée: The groundwork of the Leschetizky method: issued with his approval / by Malwine Brée; with forty-seven illustrative cuts of Leschetizky's hand; translated from the German by Dr. Th. Baker. Mayence (Mainz), 1903.
  • Malwine Brée: The Leschetizky method: a guide to fine and correct piano playing. English translation by Arthur Elson; introduction by Seymour Bernstein. Mineola, Dover Publications, 1997.
  • Theodor Leschetizky: Das Klavierwerk. Köln (Cologne), Haas 2000.
  • Comtesse Angèle Potocka: Theodore Leschetizky, an intimate study of the man and the musician. New York, The Century co., 1903
  • Annette Hullah: Theodor Leschetizky. London, Lane, 1906 (Reprinted 1923).
  • Markus von Hänsel-Hohenhausen: There can be no life without art, and no art without life - Theodor Leschetizky, in: M. v. H.-H.: On the Wonder of the Countenance in its Photographic Portrait. Charleston 2013, ISBN 9781481283373


External links[edit]