Artur Schnabel

by Tom from Australia

Artur Schnabel (
Artur Schnabel (

My hero is Artur Schnabel. He was one of the most inspiring and most accomplished pianists of the 20th centaury and inspires me to play piano to the fullest. Just recently, I received the original recordings on CD of Schnabel playing all the 32 sonatas by Beethoven and this has inspired me to play piano more and more.

He was born in Lipnik, Poland on April 17, 1882 and became interested in playing the piano at the age of seven. He studied in Vienna under Theodor Leschetizky. Leschetizky is quoted as saying to Schnabel, “You will never be a pianist. You are a musician.” He took these words to heart and instead of playing the more popular music at the time by Franz Liszt, he decided to concentrate on classical music by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Later, he studied composition under Eusebius Mandyczewski who had befriended Brahms.

In 1900, Artur Schnabel moved to Berlin to pursue a career as a professional pianist. He gained some fame from playing in orchestral concerts conducted by Artur Nikisch. He also played in chamber music accompanying his future wife, the contralto, Therese Behr. She encouraged Schnabel to expand his repertoire and explore the works of Schubert and Brahms. Also, for my 13th birthday I received two large volumes of the 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven edited by Artur Schnabel. This is regarded as the best version in the world.

After WWI, Schnabel visited the US, Russia and England. From 1925 on, he taught at the Berlin State Academy where his master classes brought him great renown.

Artur Schnabel is also known for playing and recording all 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven from 1932-1935. When on his tour in Spain, Schnabel wrote a letter to his wife saying “I am the only person here who is enjoying this, and I get the money; they pay and have to suffer.” I for one think the complete opposite of this because I think he is the 2nd Beethoven. Artur Schnabel was the first person to play all 32 piano sonatas by Beethoven at Carnegie hall. The second person to play these sonatas at Carnegie hall is Schnabel’s own student, Leon Fleisher who is currently one of the best teachers in the world.

He died on August 15, 1951 in Axenstein, Switzerland where he will leave his mark on the world as the most respected 20th century pianist.

Page created on 6/16/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/16/2006 12:00:00 AM

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