Ignaz Friedman (also spelled by languages Ignace or Ignacy; exactly Solomon (Salomon) Isaac Freudman(n), Yiddish: שְׁלֹמֹה יִצְחָק פֿרײדמאַן (February 13, 1882 – January 26, 1948) was a Polish pianist and composer. Critics (e.g. Harold C. Schonberg) and colleagues (e.g. Sergei Rachmaninoff) alike placed him among the supreme piano virtuosi of his day, alongside Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal, Josef Hofmann and Josef Lhévinne.
The son of a musician in Podgórze near Kraków, Ignaz Friedman was a child prodigy. He studied with Hugo Riemann, Theodor Leschetizky and participated in Busoni's masterclasses.
His official début in Vienna in 1904 featured a program of three piano concertos, rivalling the similar programs of established titans like Busoni and Godowsky, and he remained a titan throughout his career. His style was quiet and effortless, imbued with a sense of rhythm and color, grounded in a sovereign technique, and 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. (Rachmaninoff admired Friedman's playing but may have opined that he "played too much to the gallery.")
Later years and death
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Friedman was in Europe, but managed to escape when a concert tour in Australia was offered at the last moment. He settled in Sydney and remained there until his death (which occurred on Australia Day, 1948). Neuritis in his left hand had forced him to retire from the concert platform in 1943.
His many recordings are admired and loved. Like most of the great artists of his time who broadcast, much of his recorded material has been lost, including hours of radio recordings made in Australia and New Zealand. His place in the pantheon of great pianists of the twentieth century is assured.
He composed more than 90 works, mainly piano miniatures, but also pieces for cello and a piano quintet. His compositions are superior to those of most other virtuoso pianists of his time, but have not found a niche in the repertory. He 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 also produced editions of Schumann and Liszt.
Friedman also taught several important pianists, including Ignaz Tiegerman and Bruce Hungerford (who also died in a foreign country on Australia Day).
Releases by Naxos Historical
- Vol.1:- BEETHOVEN: 'Moonlight' Sonata / CHOPIN: Mazurkas (8.110684)
- Vol.2:- GRIEG: Piano Concerto / CHOPIN: Sonata in B Flat Minor (8.110686)
- Vol.3:- CHOPIN: Mazurkas (8.110690)
- Vol.4:- MENDELSSOHN: Songs without Words (8.110736)
- Vol.5:- English Columbia Recordings (8.111114)
^ David Dubal, Evenings with Horowitz, who may have made such comments out of jealousy, although he revered Friedman].