Sept 16, 1877 – June 15, 1962)
Born – Nyon, Switzerland
Renowned for his Romantic interpretations, particularly of Chopin, Cortot was hailed as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Cortot studied at the Paris Conservatory with Emile Descombes, who had been one of the last students of Chopin. At 19, he won the Premier Prix at the Paris Conservatory, launching his career as a concert pianist. In 1905, he formed one of the most famous piano trios which included both Pablo Casals and Jacques Thibaud which lasted for 30 years.
In addition to performing, Cortot taught at the Paris Conservatory until 1923 and at the Ecole Normale de Musique which he founded in 1919. He also was a very popular conductor and wrote extensively on the the subjects of piano technique and interpretation making numerous editions of the music of Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and others.
Controversy surrounded him during World War II and his seemingly support of the German occupation in France and other German activities. While his actual motives were unclear, he as banned for a year from performing publicly due to this.
Arguably, Cortot ended an era in which individuality and “spirit” in playing was replaced by technical virtuosity.
Chopin – Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Opus 52