MME. GERMAINE SCHNITZER
The AMICA, Vol 8, No. 5, May 1971
Although Germaine Schnitzer has retired as a concert pianist, she is as active as ever in other fields and her knowledge and enthusiasm concerning the present, and the happenings of today, is truly remarkable. Her interest in music covers a lifetime of being a musician, a concert manager, a travel consultant, and a friend of travelers and musicians. Her knowledge of opera is vast, although it is the piano with which she made her musical career.
Mme. Schnitzer was born in Paris, and her mother was French and
her father was Alsatian. She has been known as a "celebrated Viennese
pianist" and also as "a celebrated French pianist," but in any
case she did have a lot of experience in both countries. She began her musical
training at age six, and at age eight she could transpose Bach at sight. In
Paris she first studied with Raoul Pugno at the Paris Conservatoire. Later she
studied in Vienna with Emil Sauer, and both of these teachers were famous as
pianists and teachers, and both have made recordings. Mme. Schnitzer progressed
rapidly and to a remarkable degree and she made her American debut in Chickering
Hall, Boston, in 1906. She played in New York five days later and appeared in
Europe in recital and as soloist with leading symphony orchestras, becoming a
favorite in both. She has played with the New York Philharmonic, Boston
Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco and
Los Angeles symphony orchestras, the Pasdeloup and Colonne Concerts in Paris,
the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and many others, and under
such great conductors as Gustav Mahler and Karl Muck.
Two of the many interesting events which took place during Schnitzer's career were the two benefit concerts for Moritz Moszkowski, who was ill and in desperate straits financially in Paris. Fourteen grand pianos were placed on the stage of Carnegie Hall for the first concert, and the pianists who performed that evening, December 21, 1921, were Josef Lhevinne, Germain Schnitzer Wilhelm Bachaus, Alexander Lambert, Sigismond Stojowski, Ernest Schelling, Elly Ney, Harold Bauer, Leo Ornstein, Ignaz Friedman, Ernest Hutcheson, Percy Grainger, Alfredo Casella and Ossip Gabrilowitsch. Naturally such a large group needed a conductor, so Walter Damrosch was at the podium that evening. The concert has been written up in a number of books and made a sensation. It was repeated at the Metropolitan Opera House with great success in aiding the sick composer, who died in 1925.
To say that she achieved success is to put it mildly. Hers was a blazing triumph, a complete conquest. This girl is without question the greatest and most important new voice in pianoforte playing that has sounded upon us for a decade at least. -- The New York Journal
She came without the loud trumpetings which usually herald foreign artists or those of native birth who have gone abroad for a foreign hallmark, and her success was for that reason all the more emphatic and convincing. - The New York Tribune
She has a superb tone, big, sonorous, rich and wide in range. -- The New York Sun
In addition to her brilliant technique she commands a singing tone, and a virile one, which has a certain admirable nobility. -- The New York World
And right after her American debut:
Miss Schnitzer is a musician in the narrow meaning of the word; she is also a poet. That she is the former was revealed at once in her admirable playing of Bach's "Prelude and Fugue," while in her playing of the "Carnival" she was romantically poetic. The capriciousness, the whimsicality, the tenderness, the brilliance, the dreaminess of Schumann's music were expressed with the spontaneity of an improvisor.
Germaine Schnitzer at present occupies a prominent position and is one of the most interesting among the celebrated interpreters of pianoforte literature. Technically, she has splendid assets, finely developed finger velocity and pleasing tone qualities, especially in pianissimo passages, in which she uses a delightfully feathery touch.
A LIST OF SCHNITZER RECORDINGS:
Part I: WELTE-MIGNON
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