Vlado Perlemuter

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Vlado Perlemuter
Birth nameVladislas Perlemuter
Born26 May 1904
Kaunas, Lithuania
Died4 September 2002[1]
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, pedagogue
Years active1919–1990
LabelsNimbus Records

Vladislas "Vlado" Perlemuter (26 May 1904 – 4 September 2002) was a Lithuanian-born French pianist and teacher.


Vladislas (Vlado) Perlemuter was born to a Polish Jewish family, the third of four sons, in Kovno, Russia (now Kaunas in Lithuania). At the age of three, he lost the use of his left eye in an accident.[2]

His family settled in France in 1907. In 1915, aged just 10, he was accepted by the Paris Conservatoire, studying first with Moritz Moszkowski (1915–17) and later with Alfred Cortot. At 15, he graduated from the Conservatoire, where he won the First Prize playing Gabriel Fauré’s Thème et variations before the composer, although Fauré was already deaf by that time. Perlemuter got to know Fauré rather well, living very close to him at the beginning of the 1920s. Perlemuter played to Fauré several Nocturnes, Ballades and the Variations and often played chess with him in the afternoons. There is a photo in existence of a mock wedding party with Perlemuter dressed up as a miller, and Fauré as a mayor.

In 1925, Perlemuter first heard Jeux d'eau by Maurice Ravel, and decided to study all the composer's music. In 1927, a friend of Perlemuter suggested he send Ravel a letter to ask for coaching in his works, as Ravel was already very popular. Ravel agreed, and Perlemuter studied all of Ravel's solo works for piano with the composer himself for a period of six months at his home in Montfort l'Amaury. Although Ravel was very critical and was often very harsh to him, Perlemuter became one of the leading exponents of Ravel's music. In 1929, Perlemuter played all of Ravel's complete piano works in two public recitals attended by the composer, a feat he repeated in 1987 at London's Wigmore Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of Ravel's death. Although Ravel was very reserved, he must have liked Perlemuter's playing because he asked him to play Ma mère l'Oye together.

Perlemuter's fascination with the works of Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, William Turner and John Constable brought him to England in the early 1930s, and he returned frequently for concerts. He gave his first Wigmore Hall recital in 1938. During World War II, as a Jew, he was in danger in Nazi-occupied France, and was hunted by the Gestapo, barely managing to escape to Switzerland, where he lived until 1949. In 1951, he joined the teaching staff of the Paris Conservatoire, where he remained until 1977. That year he acted as a jury member for the Paloma O'Shea Santander International Piano Competition.[3] Students from around the world, such as Catherine Thibon, Claudio Herrera and Christian Zacharias, were attracted by his fame as a pedagogue.

In 1958 Perlemuter was invited to the Dartington Summer School of Music in Devon, where he returned many times. He also taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School. His dicta included that a pianist must pedal not with the foot but with the ear; and must be able to make a crescendo without hurrying, and a diminuendo without slowing. His art is characterized by shimmering tonal colours and a singing legato combined with an effortless ease of interpretation.[citation needed] Those who heard him live say that his playing was characterized by an enchantingly subtle tone that recordings fail to capture fully.[citation needed] He approached new pieces through the left hand, reading the piece from the bass upwards and he always practiced slowly, focusing on each hand separately.[4]

His international career spanned over seventy years. He recorded the entire piano works of Ravel, as well as those by Chopin,[5] Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Fauré for Nimbus Records, as well as a complete Mozart sonatas for Vox Records. He returned to the Wigmore Hall in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ravel's death with two recitals comprising all the composer's piano works; a feat he repeated at the age of 89, with a valedictory recital at the Victoria Hall in Geneva.

His final years were compromised by memory loss and failing sight. He died at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 4 September 2002 at the age of 98.[1]

Private life[edit]

Perlemuter married Jacqueline Deleveau in 1934; she died in 1982.



  • Ravel According to Ravel. London: Kahn & Averill. 2006. ISBN 978-1-871-08278-4.


  1. ^ a b c "Fichier des décès" [Death file]. deces.matchid.io (in French). République française. Retrieved 30 June 2022. Perlemuter Vladislas
  2. ^ "Vlado Perlemuter". The Guardian. 6 Sep 2002. Retrieved 3 April 2022. Born in Kovno (then in Russia, now Kaunas in Lithuania), at the age of three he lost the use of his left eye in an accident...
  3. ^ “Winners, members of the jury and artistic guests”, Paloma O’Shea Santander International Piano Competition
  4. ^ Gillespie, J.; Gillespie, A. (1995). Notable Twentieth-century Pianists: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Vol. v.2. Greenwood Press. p. 669. ISBN 9780313256608. Despite half a century of performing, Perlemuter still practices very slowly, with the left hand, even pieces that he has known all his life... ...he has always discovered each piece of music through the left hand - read it, as it were, from the bass upwards.
  5. ^ Improvisation so piano ("C as Chopin"), Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Neva Editions, 2017, p. 27. ISBN 978-2-35055-228-6
  6. ^ "Mireya Arboleda, piano (Colombia)". babel.banrepcultural.org (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-03-20. Finalmente pasó al Conservatorio Nacional de París, en donde adelantó estudios bajo la dirección de la eminente musicóloga Nadia Boulanger y del famoso intérprete raveliano VIada Perlemuter.
  7. ^ Harrington (May 2021). "RAVEL: Gaspard de la Nuit". American Record Guide. 84 (3): 86. Here both Biret and Dalberto give us a view of Ravel only one generation removed. Their teachers at the Paris Conservatory, Fevrier and Perlemuter, both studied with Ravel.
  8. ^ Duchen, Jessica (2021). "Tan, Melvyn". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.46065. Retrieved 21 March 2022. From the age of 12 he studied at the Menuhin School in England, where his piano teachers included Perlemuter and Nadia Boulanger.
  9. ^ "Mariko Hallerdt". 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  10. ^ "Le Cercle à Musique - 4ème édition - Intervalles" [The Music Circle - 4th edition - Intervals]. docplayer.fr (in French). 3 February 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2022. En 1988, elle se rend à Paris pour se perfectionner avec Vlado Perlemuter.
  • Nimbus Records – notes accompanying CD NIM5012 "Chopin Nocturnes" (1984)
  • The Guardian: Obituary (2002)
  • Pianist #13, Vlado Perlemuter 1904–2002, p. 76