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Romanian naturalized Swiss pianist, Clara Haskil was one of the greatest figures of the 20th century pianism. Superb performer of the music of Mozart and Beethoven, she left memorable recordings of Mozart’s most beautiful piano concertos in collaboration with the best orchestras and the most eminent conductors of her time (Paumgartner, Karajan, Klemperer, Fricsay). For Philips she published with violinist Arthur Grumiaux the complete Beethoven’s violin sonatas. Furthermore, Clara Haskil left excellent interpretations of a vast repertoire, ranging from Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas to Franz Schubert, from Johannes Brahms’ chamber music to Maurice Ravel’ piano music.
Clara started playing the piano at the age of three and soon showed a precocious talent. She studied first at the Conservatory of Bucharest, then in Vienna and from 1905 on in Paris, in the class of Alfred Cortot and Lazare Lévy. In these years of training, Clara won the first piano award at the Paris Conservatory, arousing the admiration of Fauré. In 1914, she was diagnosed with a deforming scoliosis that held back her career for a few years. After the end of the First World War, she began his international tour: Ernest Ansermet invited her to Switzerland to play with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; then, between 1924 and 1927, she returned several times to the United States, where in New York she also played under the direction of Leopold Stokowski.
Back in France, she frequented Stravinsky, Poulenc, Rubinstein, Horowitz, but the advent of Nazism and the outbreak of the Second World War forced her – of Sephardic Jewish origins – to take refuge in Switzerland in November 1942. She settled in Vevey, where she would remain for the rest of her life. There she was surrounded by old and new friends, from Ansermet to Charlie Chaplin, who was a great admirer of hers. In 1949, she obtained Swiss nationality. The 50’s are those of international tours and unforgettable recordings.
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