April 11, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 15

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    A fitting farewell

    Pre-eminent concert pianist Charles Rosen, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and in Music for the past 10 years, will perform a series of three farewell concerts on campus in April. Rosen retired from the University March 31.

    "This may be a rare opportunity to hear such a wide variety of music from one of the greatest living concert pianists," said Anne Walters Robertson, Associate Professor and Chairman of Music.

    "His playing has links to the late-19th-century Romantic tradition that one does not always find in younger pianists," she added.

    Rosen will perform as a guest artist of the Contemporary Chamber Players on Thursday, April 25; in a solo recital Friday, April 26; and as a soloist with the University Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, April 27. All concerts will be held at 8 p.m. in Mandel Hall.

    Rosen will also be a speaker in the Fromm Conversations, a symposium at which panelists will discuss the state of, and prospects for, contemporary concert music in America. The symposium will be held from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 14, in Mandel Hall, with the annual Paul Fromm Concert following at 8 p.m.

    Rosen said he will miss being at the University. "I had a great time. The students were very smart. And," he said, chuckling, "the library was open late."

    Throughout his academic career, Rosen has been known for his scholarship in music. The New York Times called his book The Romantic Generation (1995) "that rarity: a work of detailed musical analysis that combines profound scholarship with artistic intuition." The book, which stemmed from a series of lectures Rosen gave at Harvard, traces the history of music from Beethoven's death in 1827 to Chopin's death in 1849.

    He is also known for his books The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (1971), winner of the National Book Award, and The Sonata Forms (1970), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

    "What we appreciate most about Charles," said Robertson, "is that his whole approach to music is that of an extremely accomplished performer. His strong scholarly skills and insights well up out of his musicianship."

    Rosen will continue to perform in concert after his retirement and has plans to play in Montreal and Rome this spring.

    His interest in music began at an early age. He began to pick out tunes on the family piano at age 4, and by age 6, he was enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music. Five years later, he began studying with Moritz Rosenthal, a pupil of Liszt and a friend of Brahms.

    "[Rosenthal] could put his hands on the piano and bring out every note, and you couldn't see how he did it," Rosen recalled in an interview with the Toledo Blade. "He was 75, I was 11, but he never told me I was wrong. He'd say, 'I have a different idea,' and then sit down and demonstrate."

    A distinguished recording artist, Rosen has a diverse discography on the Columbia Masterworks, Vanguard, Odyssey, Nonesuch, Music and Art, and Globe labels, including recordings of works by Beethoven, Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Martinu, Debussy, Ravel, Bartok and Schoenberg. Among his most highly acclaimed recordings are the three-record sets "The Last Keyboard Works of Johann Sebastian Bach" and "The Last Six Beethoven Sonatas." He received a Grammy Award nomination for his recording of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. Igor Stravinsky invited him to record his Movements for Piano and Orchestra, and Elliott Carter his Double Concerto.

    Rosen received his Ph.D. in French literature from Princeton in 1951. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society. Among the awards and honors he has received is the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to American Music from Johns Hopkins University.

    For ticket prices and more information on the Fromm Conversations and Rosen's upcoming performances, see the Calendar, pages 6-8, or call the Concert Office at 702-8068.

    -- Jennifer Vanasco