Steinway & Sons Mourns Passing Of Ivan Moravec
The House of Steinway notes with profound sorrow the passing of the eminent Czech pianist Ivan Moravec, on July 27, 2015 in Prague, at the age of 84. Moravec was a deeply-valued member of the Steinway Artist family for decades. He was renowned as one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin, and he was known for his lyrical, detailed, and introspective style.
Born in Prague on November 9, 1930, Moravec began taking piano lessons at age seven. He studied at the Prague Conservatory with Erna Grünfeld, niece of the Austrian pianist Alfred Grünfeld, and later studied in master classes with Italian classical pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Moravec’s father, a lawyer, was a singer who instilled a great love of music in his son, and the younger Moravec later remembered developing—at a very early age—a special affinity for operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.
As a youth, Moravec suffered a skating injury that left him weak, ill, and struggling at the piano; he was forced to stop playing entirely by the age of 18. But by 24, his health had improved and he returned to the keyboard with a refined, delicate style he often attributed to his tentative strength. He made his British debut in 1959, and he came to the United States in 1964 to debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, led by George Szell. Moravec’s prowess as a Chopin interpreter was becoming acclaimed by this time, and his career continued to progress, leading him to solo recitals and performances with nearly all of the world’s major orchestras and conductors. He played part of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E flat for the soundtrack of the 1984 film Amadeus. In 1999 he was one of 72 pianists—and the only Czech—to be featured on the Philips Records collection Great Pianists of the 20th Century. In 2000 he was awarded the Czech Charles IV Prize for achievement in science, literature, or the arts.
As a Steinway Artist, Moravec was known for his meticulous approach to both his music and his instruments. At piano selections at the Steinway factory, he was exacting. He clearly knew what he wanted and was not open to compromise. And his discernment always paid off; once Moravec was satisfied with his piano selections, his playing came to life, and his performances were universally acclaimed. He was forever attentive to the condition of his Steinway pianos, even carrying a tool kit with him to performances to perfect his instrument up to the last second before curtain. “I am not a complete technician,” he told an interviewer for the Great Pianists of the 20th Century recording project. “But I can tune and correct certain mistakes. I can do a little voicing if there are very harsh notes.”
“Steinway pianos: my love, the only instrument with pieces of real gold in the tone,” Moravec once said. And indeed, anyone who ever heard him playing Chopin–pars pro toto–will not forget the beauty and personality of his tone and phrasing.
Steinway & Sons extends sincere condolences to Ivan Moravec’s family, friends, and colleagues.
About Steinway & Sons
Since its founding in New York in 1853, Steinway & Sons has been considered the world's premier piano manufacturer. Known for their exceptional craftsmanship, Steinway & Sons pianos are built in one of two company-owned and operated factories: Astoria, New York and Hamburg, Germany. Steinway & Sons pianos are still constructed primarily by hand, using many of the techniques developed over 160 years ago. Today, Steinway & Sons also offers the Boston and Essex piano lines, Listen, a magazine for music and culture lovers, and the Steinway & Sons record label. For more information, visit www.steinway.com.
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