Ignaz Friedman (b. 1882-1848) was a Polish pianist and composer. Critics and colleagues alike placed him among the supreme piano virtuosi of his day, alongside Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal, Josef Hofmann and Josef Lhévinne.
His official début in Vienna in 1904 featured a program of three piano concertos, rivaling the similar programs of established titans like Busoni and Godowsky. His style was quiet and effortless, imbued with a sense of rhythm and color and grounded in a sovereign technique. Much has been written about his peerless interpretations of Chopin in particular.
As with his compatriot and contemporary Moriz Rosenthal, Friedman's Chopin interpretations, particularly those of the mazurkas, are considered by many to be unsurpassed. Despite having given 2,800 concerts during his career, he sometimes received lukewarm reviews in America in later years, as younger critics were becoming accustomed to modernist playing which stripped romantic interpretation of its agogics and essence.
Regarding Friedman in his 1987 book Great Pianists, Harold C. Schonberg writes, “His style was completely his own, and it was marked by a combination of incredible technique, musical freedom (some called it eccentricity), a tone that simply soared, and a naturally big approach, with dynamic extremes that tended to make a Chopin mazurka sound like an epic. He handled a melodic line inimitably — deftly outlining it against the bass, never allowing it to sag, always providing interest by a unique stress or accent. As he thought big, he played big. His recording of Chopin's Revolutionary Etude is a remarkable, magnificent conception… The more one hears them, the more one admires. Friedman was a force — a powerful, unusual, original pianist, sometimes erratic but always fascinating, and always full of imagination and daring.”
Friedman composed more than 90 works, mainly piano miniatures, as well as pieces for cello and a piano quintet. He also arranged many works, especially those of J. S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. He edited an almost complete edition of the piano works of Chopin and produced editions of Schumann and Liszt. Friedman also taught several important pianists, including Joseph Gurt, Ignace Tiegerman and Bruce Hungerford.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music awards an annual Ignaz Friedman Prize for composition.