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Alfred Cortot
Birth: Sep. 26, 1877
Nyon
Vaud, Switzerland
Death: Jun. 15, 1962
Lausanne
Vaud, Switzerland

Pianist. A noted conductor, arranger, and teacher as well as performer, he is best remembered as a pianistic interpreter of the Romantic works of Robert Schumann and Frederic Chopin. Raised in a French-speaking portion of Switzerland he manifested his talent early and trained at the Paris Conservatory under Emile Descombes, a student of Chopin, taking a First Prize in 1896. Cortot made his 1897 professional bow with Paris' Concerts Colonne Orchestra playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 then from 1898 until 1901 worked as a chorus coach at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, along the way learning conducting. Returning to Paris in 1902 he was on the podium for the city's premiere of "Gotterdammerung", the final installment of Richard Wagner's "Ring Cycle", and soon led a much acclaimed reading of the same composer's "Tristan und Isolde". In 1905 Cortot joined violinist Jacques Thibaud and cellist Pablo Casals to form what was probably the most successful piano trio of the time; though he kept a busy performance schedule he found time to be a professor at the Paris Conservatory from 1907 until 1923 and in 1919 founded the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, in both positions influencing the development of numerous European pianists. Gaining international stature with time, he toured the United States twice and the Soviet Union once during the 1920s. Cortot's activities during World War II continue to draw comment; though his wife was Jewish he was allowed to be a member of the Conseil National, an advisory body to the government, and was accused by some of being an actual supporter of the Vichy Regime. Long an exponent of Germanic music he suffered no breaks in his performing career as did some other artists, and indeed he played in Germany as well as in France and maintained cordial relationships, at least on the surface, with several Nazi officials. After the conflict Cortot of course faced judgment day though his only penalty was a year long ban from appearing in France during which he remained quite welcome elsewhere. In truth, whatever his actions during the war, he was probably just trying to achieve survival for himself and his wife. Continuing to play in public and to record almost to the end of his life, his technical proficiency was to show a gradual decline with time though his interpretative insight remained undiminished. Today his legacy rests primarily on his arrangements and commentary, with his editions of the works of Chopin, Schumann, and Debussy considered definitive, and on his training of two generations of great pianists. His recordings are a bit more problematic: technology during his prime years was not conducive to the preservation of long pieces leading him to primarily cut piano rolls in lieu of records during the 1920s, while by the time recording techniques had advanced his skills had diminished. Nevertheless his discs continue to be available on CD and to be popular, with some of his readings, particularly Franz Liszt's Sonata in B-minor and some Chopin selections, considered a measuring standard for other artists. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Burial:
Le Villars Cemetery
Le Villars
Departement de Sa˘ne-et-Loire
Bourgogne, France
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Sep 12, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 76426642
Alfred Cortot
Added by: Harmonie Autographs and Music, Inc.
 
Alfred Cortot
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
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- David Wend
 Added: Sep. 26, 2014

- R I P
 Added: Sep. 26, 2013

- Martin W
 Added: Sep. 17, 2013
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