Rosina Lhévinne

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Rosina Lhévinne (detail from the picture Safonow with his students, late 19th century)

Rosina Lhévinne (born March 29, 1880 in Kiev , † November 9, 1976 in Glendale , born as Rosina Bessie ) was a Russian-American pianist and music teacher. In particular, she was considered an outstanding piano teacher. She was the wife of the pianist Josef Lhévinne .

life and work

Rosina Lhévinne was born in Kiev on March 29, 1880, but grew up in Moscow. Her father, Jacques Bessie, was a Dutch businessman who married a Russian woman. As a child, she was very frail and almost died of diphtheria . She was only able to recover through her mother's resolute attitude, who asked the attending physicians to perform a tracheotomy to save Rosina. Her parents, both amateur pianists, encouraged her to take piano lessons from the age of 7. From the age of 9 she studied at the Imperial Conservatory of Moscow, first with SM Remesov and later with Vasily Safonov . When her teacher Safonov was absent, Rosina Bessie received piano lessons on behalf of her fellow student and later husband Josef Lhevinne. Rosina Lhévinne reported: It wasn't love at first sight. This love developed slowly and we got married after our education when I was 18 years old.

After completing their education, the couple lived in Tbilisi for two years , then went back to Moscow. She spent 1906 accompanying her husband on a concert tour in the United States . Before the First World War , Rosina Lhévinne initially worked alone in Vienna , St. Petersburg and Berlin . Primarily, however, she cared for the family and promoted her husband's career. She persuaded her husband, who was teaching in Tbilisi again, to move to Berlin, as this city offered more opportunities to a young, outstanding pianist. When the war broke out, the family members were arrested as Russian Jews in Berlin. The couple were no longer allowed to perform in public.

At the end of the war, the family moved to New York - their daughter had already been born at this point . She lived there in Hew Gardens in the district of Queens to the death of her husband in 1944. Then she moved to the city in the vicinity of the Juilliard School . The Lhévinne couple became known in New York as a piano duo. However, Rosina Lhévinne did not appear in public after her husband's death until she was 75. In general, she rarely appeared in public in her artistic life. She put the emphasis on teaching. She taught until she was 96 years old.

Rosina Lhévinne and her husband entered the Juilliard School as piano teachers in 1924. In contrast to her husband, Rosina was considered to be the clearly better educator, as she showed her students great patience and a lot of empathy. She has given numerous master classes in Los Angeles , Aspen and at the University of California at Berkeley. Her students included Van Cliburn , John Browning , Adele Marcus , Misha Dichter , Ralph Votapek , Jeffrey Siegel , Martin Canin , David Bac ‐ Blan , Joseph Schwarz , Kun Woo Paik, and Joseph and Anthony Paratore . As a piano teacher, she particularly encouraged a special kind of singing tone in the performance, the emphasis on the musical line, a musical personality without eccentricity and spontaneity without moodiness.

Rosina Lhévinne made very few recordings. In 1960 at the age of 80 she took Mozart's Piano Concerto in C major KV. 467 for the Columbia label. Two years later she played Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 a. From 1935 there is a recording of Claude Debussy's Fêtes arranged for two pianos played together with her husband.


The American music critic Harold C. Schonberg characterized her appearance with Chopin's Piano Concerto in E minor together with the New York Philharmonic in 1963 as follows: “It produced a warm and vital sound that had no problems and carried it through the whole house. Technically, it was a miracle […]. Many other things could be mentioned, a perfect legato, a spacious and intact view of the music and a fine sense of poetry. "

The pianist John Browning characterized Lhévinne as a piano teacher as follows: She did not impose her ideas on her students. “She does not form the pupil in her own image. […] She [had] the wonderful ability to keep the personality of the student [in training] completely intact. ”Rosina Lhévinne showed great interest in the personal development of the students entrusted to her. She encouraged them to expand their cultural knowledge in museums and libraries; she urged them to "love people"; she gave them her credo on the artistic path of life: "You play what you are!"

Rosina Lhévinne died on November 9, 1976 at the age of 96 from complications from a stroke in her daughter's home in Glendale, California.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Raymond Ericson: Rosina Lhévinne. In: New York Times, November 11, 1976.
  2. a b c d e f g h i j Rosina Lhévinne. In: Naxos.
  3. a b c d e f Section after: Raymond Ericson: Rosina Lhevinne, pianist, Is Dead; Juilliard Teacher of Noted Students. New York Times, November 11, 1976, accessed March 8, 2020 .
  4. a b Quoted in German translation from: Raymond Ericson: Rosina Lhevinne, Pianist, Is Dead; Juilliard Teacher of Noted Students. New York Times, November 11, 1976, accessed March 8, 2020 .