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Liberace (1968)

Władziu Valentino Liberace (born May 16, 1919 in West Allis , Wisconsin , † February 4, 1987 in Palm Springs , California ) was an American pianist and entertainer . In the 1960s and 1970s, Liberace developed into a show talent that earned him the nickname Mr. Showmanship . He remained connected to classical music in his flashy Las Vegas shows.


His mother was from Poland , his father from Italy . He was a child prodigy , practiced on the piano for several hours a day as a small child and was able to play classical music by heart by the age of six. As a young man he received classical piano training , but was also well versed in popular music. He completed a university degree in music with a focus on piano and organ at the prestigious Wisconsin College of Music.

In 1940, at the age of 20, he appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee , the conductor was Hans Lange , who came from Constantinople . According to his own statements, this concerto was his breakthrough as a classical soloist. In the 1950s he won the award for the fastest classical pianist in the USA seven times in a row, he was also considered the fastest pianist in the world.

In the 1950s he began to play classical pieces and folk songs with a pronounced pop touch. The composer and pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski , a friend of the family, advised him, like himself, to only perform under his family name, which he took to heart. During this time he got his own TV show and in this he was accompanied by a band led by his brother George and to which Corky Hale belonged. Liberace himself was mentioned by name as early as 1954 in Mr. Sandman , the Chordettes ' greatest hit ; 1957 then in Nina Simone's My Baby Just Cares for Me . In television shows he played South American music, songs by George Gershwin and numerous film music titles, including Hitchcock's Spellbound by Miklós Rózsa . Chopin remained his favorite composer .

He later performed regularly in Las Vegas . In his shows and television appearances, he stood out for his extravagant costumes: His nickname The Glitter Man , which alludes to Liberace's diamond-studded suits, was used for example. B. also 2Pac in his hit California Love (1996). His favorite costume was a chinchilla fur , which he presented when he went on stage in a mirrored Rolls-Royce. The massive rings on every second finger, which he did not take off even when playing the piano, were part of it, as was an excessive life. The death of his mother Frances in 1980 hit him hard; the bond between the two was very strong.

In 1976 he founded the Liberace Foundation, which enables young students to study music. The Foundation included the Liberace Museum depicting his life, which he opened in 1979 and which was closed on October 17, 2010 for financial reasons. Liberace lived in luxury, owned 13 villas, kept 17 dogs and had several adopted children. His net worth was estimated at around $ 100 million when he died.

Liberace was homosexual , but repeatedly brought lawsuits against relevant press releases, all of which he won. In the early days of his career, homosexuality was not only a taboo subject in the USA, he had to assume that an outing would damage his career. Ultimately, he had committed himself to such an extent, among other things in court with a statement under oath that he was not homosexual, that he could hardly have revised this. Liberace died of complications from AIDS in 1987 at the age of 67 .


The 117th episode (season 5, episode 21) Crocker hostage in the television series Kojak - Operation in Manhattan takes place in Las Vegas, where Liberace has a small guest appearance. He is questioned by Lieutenant Kojak in his dressing room after his manager, along with Sergeant Crocker, his prisoners and a magician, have been kidnapped.

In the second season of the 1966 television series Batman , Liberace had a guest appearance as the villain in two episodes. There he played the villain and pianist Chandell and his brother, who failed to defeat Batman and Robin.

In 1988 the life of Liberace was first filmed by David Greene under the title Liberace: Behind the Music (German title Liberace - Ein Leben für die Musik ). Victor Garber plays the title role.

On October 3, 2013, the film Liberace - Too much of a good thing is wonderful by Steven Soderbergh was released in Germany. The film with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the leading roles ran in the USA under the title Behind the Candelabra and addresses the longstanding love affair between Liberace and his partner Scott Thorson .

In the Amazon Prime series Mozart in the Jungle , Liberace (played by David Turner) appears in two episodes (season 4, episodes 4 + 5) as the new fictional muse of star conductor Rodrigo De Souza (played by Gael García Bernal ), after his old muse Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died.

Web links

Commons : Liberace  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Before the candelabra. In: Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Rosenthal Archives. May 28, 2013, accessed on May 16, 2019 .
  2. ^ A b Gregor Peter Schmitz: Out for Liberace Museum: Lady Gaga of the Fifties. In: Spiegel Online . October 22, 2010, accessed May 16, 2019 .
  3. ^ Liberace Museum to close its doors October. 17. (PDF; 225 kB) (No longer available online.) In: Liberace Foundation and Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. September 10, 2010, archived from the original on March 3, 2012 ; accessed on May 7, 2017 .
  4. Iris Rodriguez: More King than Elvis. In: Retrieved March 13, 2011 .