Earl Wild born 26 November 1915 (d. 2010)
Earl Wild was an American pianist widely recognised as a leading virtuoso of his generation. Harold C Schonberg called him a 'super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class'. He was known as well for his transcriptions of classical music and jazz. He was also a composer.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wild was a musically precocious child and studied under Selmar Janson, Simon Barere and Egon Petri, among others. As a teenager, he started making transcriptions of romantic music and composition.
He was the first pianist to perform a recital on US television, in 1939, as staff pianist for NBC. In 1997 he was also the first pianist to stream a performance over the Internet.
In 1942, Arturo Toscanini invited him for a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which was a resounding success and made him a household name. During World War II, Wild served in the United States Navy as a musician. A few years after the war he moved to the newly formed American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a staff pianist, conductor and composer until 1968. Wild was renowned for his virtuoso recitals and master classes held around the world, from Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo to Argentina, England and throughout the United States.
Earl Wild created virtuoso solo piano transcriptions of 12 songs by Rachmaninov, and works on themes by Gershwin. His Grand Fantasy on Airs from Porgy and Bess, the first extended piano paraphrase on an American opera, was recorded in 1976 and had its concert premiere in Pasadena on December 17, 1977. He also wrote Seven Virtuoso Études on Popular Songs, based on Gershwin songs such as The Man I Love, Fascinating Rhythm and I Got Rhythm.
He also wrote a number of original works. These included a large-scale Easter oratorio, Revelations (1962), the choral work The Turquoise Horse (1976), and the Doo-Dah Variations, on a theme by Stephen Foster (1992), for piano and orchestra. His Sonata 2000 had its first performance in 2003.
Wild recorded extensively for Ivory Classics, an American classical music record label.
Wild, who was openly gay, lived in Palm Springs, California with his partner of 38 years, Michael Rolland Davis. He died aged 94 of congestive heart disease at home in Palm Springs.
Earl Wild - official website
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