Long chronology

/Long chronology

1925

1925

November 26 – Born in New York from Russian parents whom emigrated to USA after the Russian Revolution. Eugene Istomin’s father, Yuri, belonged to the Russian nobility and fought in the Tsarist army. His mother, Feera, came from a Jewish family in Odessa.

Feera Chavin when he arrived in New York in 1922

1930

1930

Becomes the family pianist and accompanies his parents, whom earned their living by singing in Russian cabarets.

Feera and Yuri Istomin in stage costumes

1932

1932

Is introduced to Siloti, a former Liszt student and central character of the musical life of Saint Petersburg before the Revolution. Siloti accepts to take care of his musical development.

Alexandre Siloti and Eugene Istomin in 1932

1934

1934

Continues his work with Siloti, assisted by his daughter, Kyriena, who also teaches him French. Starts becoming a fan of baseball and cinema.

Eugene Istomin at seven years old

1935

1935

Buys his first book, “The Three Musketeers” and discovers his love for literature. Attends school for the first time, following the classes of the Professional School for Children.

Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, Ed. Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1928

1937

1937 – 1938

Inquiet de voir son fils passer si peu de temps au piano, son père décide d’arrêter les leçons avec Alexandre Siloti et de lui faire poursuivre sa formation au Mannes College of Music. Après avoir entendu deux récitals de Josef Hofmann, se prend d’admiration pour le grand pianiste et vient frapper à la porte de sa chambre d’hôtel pour lui demander de l’auditionner. Il se fait gentiment éconduire…

Josef Hofmann vers 1940

1939

1939 – 1943

Studies at the Curtis Institute with Serkin and his assistants (Jorge Bolet – during the first year, then Mieczyslaw Horszowski). Attends concerts of all the most important musicians performing in Philadelphia (Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, Kreisler, Heifetz, Feuermann, Stokowski, Beecham, Bartok…)

Serkin and Istomin in the mid-1950s

1943

1943

In October, wins in quick succession, the Youth Competition organized by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Leventritt Competition. As prizes, he makes his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy on November 17 (Chopin, Concerto No. 2) and with the New York Philharmonic under Artur Rodzinski on November 21 (Brahms, Concerto No.2). The New York concert is broadcast live nation-wide and immediately launches him to fame. Arthur Judson becomes his manager.

1944

1944

Gives more than 40 concerts in two and a half months with the Little Symphony conducted by Adolf Busch (Mozart Concertos K. 449, 365 and 414; Bach BWV 1052 and 1061). Gives his first recital on April 18 at Town Hall in New York. Spends the summer with the Busch family and discovers the chamber music repertoire with Adolf and Hermann Busch. Meets William Kapell and Isaac Stern and strikes up a friendship with them. Makes his debut with the Chicago Orchestra on December 4 (Rachmaninoff, 3rd Concerto) and performs again with the New York Philharmonic on December 10 and 11 (Beethoven, 4th Concerto).

1945

1945

From January 8 to March 24, gives 54 concerts with the Little Symphony and Adolf Busch, adding Mozart’s Concerto K. 271 and Chopin’s Andante and Grande Polonaise to the previous repertoire. Records his first disc with them in April: Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 1052. On July 5, makes his debut with the National Symphony. Spends the summer, once again, with the Busch family. Acquires his first important painting, a gouache by Picasso.

Adolf Busch and Eugene Istomin in Columbia studios

1946

1946

In February, gives his Graduate Recital at the Curtis Institute, then his first recital at Carnegie Hall, performing Brahms’ Handel Variations and Chopin’s 4 Scherzos. Returns with the New York Philharmonic and Rodzinski for Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Audition for Paul Paray, who promised to invite him to America and France. Spends the summer at Martha’s Vineyard and works Gaspard de la nuit. Paul Goodman translates for him the prose poems by Aloysius Bertrand which inspired Maurice Ravel. Beginning of his passion for Ezra Pound. On December 6, gives his second recital at Carnegie Hall, with a very eclectic program (Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Busch, Debussy and Chopin…).

1947

1947

On January 7, Rodzinski writes to some of his most distinguished colleagues (Koussevitsky, Monteux, Szell, Golschmann, Mitropoulos and Dorati), suggesting to them to invite a very talented young pianist: Eugene Istomin. Gives numerous Community Concerts. First conflict with his management. Gives numerous Community Concerts all over the US. Spends a lot of time in Greenwich Village talking with avant-garde artists and left-wing activists.

Artur Rodzinski in the early 1940s

1948

1948

Recital at Carnegie Hall on February 20, where Gaspard de la nuit is very successful. In March, has his first collaboration with George Szell (Chopin’s 2nd Concerto with the New York Philharmonic). From March to September makes his first journey to France (Paris, Nice and Cap-Ferrat) and Italy (Florence and Rome). Adolf Busch asks him to attend his first concert in Germany since 1933. On October 16, participates in a concert dedicated to Tolstoy. Tries to heal his stage fright, based on Mrs. Leventritt’s advice, a psychoanalysis that will turn short.

George Szell in the late 1940s

1949

1949

Two concerts with the New York Philharmonic, in June under Fritz Reiner at Lewisohn Stadium, in October under Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall. Spends most of the summer with his best friend William Kapell. In autumn, tours with Alexander Schneider to perform the complete Violin Sonatas by Beethoven. First appearance with Szell in Cleveland in November (Mozart K. 271).

1950

1950

Concerts in January with the Chicago Symphony under Ormandy and Szell, and in February with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Paul Paray. First concerts in France in spring, invited by Paray. He is the youngest participant in the Prades Festival, and he spends the whole summer there with Casals. In autumn, concerts in Italy, Lisbon and Switzerland, thanks to the recommendations of Casals and Serkin. First concerts with William Steinberg in Buffalo in December. Records Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto, Toccata BWV 914 and Trio Sonata BWV 1038.

Pablo Casals smoking a pipe at home in Prades

1951

1951

Recital at Carnegie Hall on January 12. Concert tours in USA and Canada. Records the Brahms’ Handel Variations in March. Participates in the Perpignan Festival in July, recording Mozart’s 14th Concerto with Casals as well as four Beethoven Trios and the 1st by Schubert with Schneider and Casals. Visits Greece in August, which appears to him as the “cradle of our civilization”. Tour in Italy in the autumn, including a concert at La Scala.

Casals and Istomin rehearsing in Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa in 1952

1952

1952

Many invitations from major American orchestras (Pittsburgh, Boston, Montreal, Los Angeles, Philadelphia), particularly during summer festivals (Ravinia, Philadelphia, Robin Hood Dell, Hollywood Bowl, Lewisohn Stadium), joining again Paray, Szell and Steinberg, and collaborating for the first time with Kubelik, Leinsdorf and Katims. Participates in the Prades Festival in June, where he plays with Casals and Schneider and accompanies Jennie Tourel.

Jenny Tourel and Eugene Istomin in Prades in 1952

1953

1953

Tour in Portugal in January. Together with Madeline Foley, replaces Alexander Schneider as Artistic Director of the Prades Festival. Hires new soloists (Kapell, Grumiaux, Fuchs) and an orchestra mainly composed of outstanding American instrumentists. Tragic death of his friend William Kapell in a plane crash. In December, impressive series of prestigious and very successful concerts: Brahms’ Second Concerto in New York with Szell, Chopin’s Second Concerto in Detroit with Paray and Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto in Philadelphia with Ormandy. Records Beethoven’s 1st and 5th Trios with Fuchs and Casals.

Casals and Istomin in rehearsal in Prades. 1953

1954

1954

Concerts with Szell, Ormandy, Jorda, Katims, Krips. Organizes the Prades Festival, devoted to Beethoven’s Chamber Music with Casals, Fuchs, Szymon Goldberg, Serkin and Horszowski. The festival is recorded by the French Radio and broadcast all over Europe. His recital in London in October wins the Harriet Cohen Award for best recital of the year.

1955

1955

Assumes for the last time the artistic direction of the Prades Festival, giving six concerts in ten days, with Casals, Menuhin and Vegh. In August first steps of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio in Ravinia (Chicago). They are well received by the audience, while the critics are more divided. Debut with the Boston Symphony and Charles Munch in Tanglewood. First tour in South America (in April and June) and South Africa (autumn). Memorable Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with Szell and the New York Philharmonic on December 2. On David Oppenheim’s initiative, starts an ambitious program of recordings for Columbia with the complete Nocturnes by Chopin.

1956

1956

Tour in Iceland. First tour in Asia (50 concerts in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Manila). Concerts in England, Switzerland and Italy. Concert tour in Australia which he has to interrupt because of a burn out. Organizes a series of concerts of Clara Haskil in the USA. Time Magazine devotes him a portrait in which he is considered the equal of Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein, Horowitz and Serkin. Records Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto on April 2. The LP is a huge success with more than 200 000 copies sold.

1957

1957

Concerts with Monteux in Montreal, Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic, Ormandy, Paray, Reiner, Markevitch. Short passages in Europe (concerts in England and at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam). Returns to Australia. Participates in the first Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. Spends the summer in Marlboro. Appears on the cover of Musical America under the title: “The World at his Fingertips”. McCormick, editor-in-chief of Double Day, offered him to write his autobiography. Records Mozart’s Quartet K. 493 and Brahms’ Intermezzos Opus 117.

1958

1958

New Tour in South Africa. Concerts with Bernstein (Schumann’s Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in the presence of Casals). Participates in the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico and stays again most of the summer in Marlboro. First performance with the Budapest Quartet at the Library of Congress. Many concerts with Munch in Boston and Tanglewood. In January, records Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Ormandy.

Four improvised hands for Istomin and Munch!

1959

1959

Long tour in spring with the Royal Scottish Orchestra under Hans Swarowski (Chopin’s 2nd Concerto). First meeting with Arnold Toynbee. Concerts with Munch, Ormandy, Hendl, and Krips. Important participation in the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico (Schumann’s Concerto under Schneider, trios by Mendelssohn and Brahms with Stern and Casals, accompaniment of Schubert’s songs for Eileen Farrell). Present in Marlboro in August. Records Tchaikovsky’s 1st Concerto and Chopin 2nd Concerto with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Istomin, Schneider and Istomin. Porto Rico 1959

1960

1960

Records Schumann’s Concerto under the direction of Bruno Walter in January. Conflicts with Columbia and cancellation of the other scheduled recordings. Multiple performances of Beethoven’s 4th and 5th Concertos (Philadelphia, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Houston, National Symphony…), as well as Leon Kirchner’s 1st Concerto (including three times with the San Francisco Symphony under the composer). Becomes fully committed to the presidential campaign to support Kennedy.

With Bruno Walter in the studio

1961

1961

Performs with at least twelve American Orchestras: San Francisco, Detroit (Tornakowsky), Boston (Munch et Monteux), National Symphony, Philadelphia (Ormandy), Chicago (Reiner), Milwaukee, Seattle, Rochester, Los Angeles, Rhode Island and New England. Once again spends most of the summer in Marlboro. Official launch of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio for the first Israel Festival where he also plays with the Budapest Quartet, but has to cancel a concert with the Israel Philharmonic because of tendonitis flare-up in his right thumb. In November and December, plays concertos and trios in London.

Istomin, Stern and Rose in rehearsal. 1961

1962

1962

Debut of the Trio in the USA in the spring (Beethoven’s Triple Concerto at Carnegie Hall, three concerts at the Metropolitan Museum and one at the White House). Filled with enthusiasm after meeting Kennedy, he is willing to serve his country and become an ambassador of good will. Plays a concerto and some chamber music concerts at Seattle’s World Fair. Soloist with the Puerto Rico Festival Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on June 17 (Beethoven 5). Participates in the first Athens Festival at the Herode Atticus Theater and establishes a close relationship with Princess Irene of Greece. Performs with the New York Philharmonic and Bernstein for the inauguration of the Lincoln Center in September (Bach BWV 1065) and in October (Brahms’ 2nd Concerto). Soloist of Paul Paray’s farewell concerts in Detroit (Tchaikovsky’s Concerto). Changes his management, leaving CAMI for Sol Hurok.

Kennedy greets Istomin and Rose

1963

1963

Acts as cultural ambassador of goodwill by giving concerts in Bulgaria for two weeks, in Ankara, Beirut and Tehran. Strikes up in Sofia a lifetime friendship with musicians Jerzy Semkov and Jean-Bernard Pommier and Ambassador Eugenie Anderson whom later introduces him to Hubert Humphrey. From May to October, gives 80 concerts in Europe and Israel, including a series of 9 concerts with the Israel Philharmonic under the young Zubin Mehta (in May). Takes part, alone or with Stern and Rose, in almost every major European festival (Aix, Lucerne, Edinburgh, Israel, Menton, Montreux). Shattered by Kennedy’s assassination.

1964

1964

Tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in January (Chopin 2 under André Vandernoot). Recital at Carnegie Hall on February 14 – again a tremendous reception from the audience but mixed reviews. Gives seven concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra (Beethoven 4, 5 and Triple) and six with the Boston Symphony (Brahms 2 and Beethoven 4 with Ehrling, Mozart K. 491 with Ozawa, Beethoven 5 with Kostelanetz). Supports Johnson and Humphrey against Barry Goldwater in the presidential election. Approves Humphrey’s plan to establish a National Council and Foundation for the Arts. Intense activity with the Trio whose concerts are sold out everywhere (especially five concerts in New York, two of which taking place at Carnegie Hall). Records Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in April, Brahms’ Trio Opus 87 in February and Schubert’s First Trio in August.

1965

1965

Attends the Presidential Inauguration of Johnson. Cultural ambassador in spring, touring Russia (where he does not want to be considered a Russian pianist and refuses to play any Russian music, except Stravinsky), then Romania. First concert at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris (with the Orchestre National de France and Paul Kletzki). Strikes up a friendship with the painter Avigdor Arikha, then with Samuel Beckett. Returns to Prades for two concerts. At Artur Rubinstein’s request, learns Szymanowski’s Symphonie Concertante and plays it for the first time under Stanislas Skrowaczewski. Records Brahms’ 2nd Concerto with Ormandy in February. Publication of the Roger Sessions’ 3rd Piano Sonata dedicated to Istomin. Moves into the Mayflower in New York.

With Eugene Ormandy and his wife

1966

1966

Eight concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, under Ormandy (Beethoven 3, he has just added to his repertoire, and Szymanowski’s Symphonie Concertante) and under Maazel (Beethoven 4). Returns with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell (Mozart’s K. 449 and Beethoven’s Triple). Long summer residence in Detroit with the Trio and its “students” (Pommier, Zukerman, Harrell), playing four concertos, two trio concerts and giving master classes. Goes to Vietnam during the war, but his recital in Saigon is cancelled for security reasons. Realizes the impossibility of winning this war and the duplicity of the CIA. Participates along with Vice-President Humphrey in the celebration of Casals’ 90th anniversary. Long American tour in autumn with the Trio, recording Beethoven’s Trios Opus 1 N° 3 and Mendelssohn 1st Trio.

The Trio in Central Park

1967

1967

First tour in New Zealand. Plays with the Trio for the Montreal World Exhibition. After the coup in Greece, welcomes his friend Manos Hadjidakis to his apartment in New York. Fulfills his contract for two concerts with the Trio at the Herode Atticus Theater, but voices his disapproval and refuses to perform in Greece from then on. His support was acknowledged in 1974 by the new Greek democratic authorities. Participates again in the Israel Festival, with the Trio and as the soloist of the Israel Philharmonic (Brahms 2 under Josef Krips). Ends the year in Europe (concerts in England, Switzerland and France).

Manos Hadjidakis

1968

1968

Supports Humphrey’s candidacy for the presidential election. Takes the lead of the Arts and Letters Committee in a very conflicting atmosphere, up to the point that he is whistled at when entering the stage for a concert at the Lincoln Center. Invited with the Trio at Lucerne and Edinburgh festivals where he performs Schubert’s Trio in E-flat for the first time and meets Rostropovich. Humphrey, narrowly defeated by Nixon, tells he would have asked Istomin to be his cultural advisor. Records Brahms’ 1st and 3rd Trio in August and Beethoven 4th Concerto with Ormandy on December 15 (for the 25th anniversary of his debut).

Hubert Humphrey and Eugene Istomin

1969

1969

Tours in Asia and New Zealand. Many concerts with the American Orchestras: Boston Symphony under Leinsdorf, Philadelphia under Ormandy, Detroit under Sixteen Erhling, Pittsburgh under William Steinberg, Baltimore under Comissiona. A year very rich in recordings: Schubert (2nd Trio with Stern and Rose and Sonata D. 850); Beethoven (2 Violin Sonatas with Stern and 2 Cello Sonatas with Rose); Songs by Ned Rorem with the baritone Donald Gramm.

Original cover of Schubert’s Sonata in D major

1970

1970

Beethoven year. The Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio makes headlines, touring the USA and South America in spring, and Israel in summer. Most of all, the Trio meets the unprecedented challenge to perform Beethoven’s complete chamber music with piano in four series of eight concerts in London, Paris, Switzerland and New York (Carnegie Hall). The Trio gives more than 50 concerts with many triumphal or moving moments (including the Triple Concerto under Casals in Puerto Rico). Participates in the US summer festivals: Hollywood Bowl under Krips, Saratoga under Ormandy, Blossom under Previn. End of the recording of the complete Beethoven Trios (which was to receive a Grammy Award). However, in conflict with Columbia, refuses to finish the complete sonatas for violin and cello.

1971

1971

Reasserts his willingness to serve his country as a cultural ambassador, offering to go and perform in China. Despite André Malraux’s support, the State Department refuses. In January and February, gives recitals in Boston and Paris. The Trio performs in Washington for the inauguration of the Kennedy Center and then goes on tour in Japan (where Istomin also gives a recital in Tokyo). On October 24, when Casals is presented the Peace Medal, plays at the UN under his direction the Bach’s Concerto BWV 1064 with Serkin and Horszowski. Death of his father on November 15 while he is giving a series of concerts with the National Symphony conducted by Antal Dorati. One week later gives a very successful recital at Carnegie Hall. On this occasion, the New York Times publishes a portrait titled: “Istomin:  I like to be alone”.

Eugene Istomin between his parents

1972

1972

Humphrey being a candidate for the Democratic primaries, provides his support but in a less committed way. Gives up on all political activity after Humphrey has been overtaken by McGovern. Arikha’s first exhibition of Arikha in the USA. Series of televised concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysees in Paris with the Orchestre de Chambre de l’ORTF under Alexander Schneider: Mozart’s Concertos K. 271, 449 and 365. Many recitals in prestigious venues (Queen Elizabeth Hall, Academy of Music of Philadelphia, Chicago Orchestra Hall, Boston, San Francisco). Summer residences in Meadow Brook with the Detroit Symphony, at Blossom Festival with the Cleveland Orchestra and in Ravinia with the Chicago Symphony.

With Jean-Bernard Pommier in 1972

1973

1973

First semester was mainly dedicated to recitals, with a new program: Fantasies by Beethoven or Mozart, two Impromptus by Schubert, Handel Variations by Brahms, Debussy’s Preludes and the 4th Ballade by Chopin. Concerts with the Chicago Symphony and Solti in spring (Mozart K. 271). Plays the Symphonie Concertante by Szymanowski with the Cleveland Orchestra for the last time (no other orchestra will ask for it again). Participates in the Israel Festival in August with the Trio and as a soloist. Series “Stern and Friends” at Carnegie Hall in autumn. Plays the Waldstein Sonata by Beethoven for Casals on October 10. Death of Casals on October 22. Delivers Casals’ eulogy at Columbia University on November 8.

Stern, Rose and Istomin in the early 1970s

1974

1974

In January, concert with the Trio at Carnegie Hall. Strong presence in Europe, particularly in France and UK. Gives recitals in London and Paris and plays with the Radio Orchestras. Films the complete Brahms Trios for the French Television in studio. Accepts to play in Germany (Bonn and Frankfurt). Performs under the direction of his friend and former student Jean-Bernard Pommier for the first time. Many concerts with Stanislas Skrowaczewski (Detroit and Minneapolis) Ormandy (Schumann’s Concerto in Philadelphia and Washington). US Tour with the Trio in November. Becomes aware of his love for Marta Casals.

1975

1975

In January takes part in a tribute to Albert Schweitzer, Casals’ close friend. Marriage with Marta in New York on February 15. Tours in Latin America and Canada. Important participation in the Puerto Rico Festival: three concerts of chamber music with Stern, Rose, Zukerman, Forrester, and the Emperor Concerto under Schneider (replacing Abbado, ill). New collaboration with the National Symphony and Dorati, in Washington and Lincoln Center. Starts a lasting association with David Zinman, in Rochester. Principal guest of the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, plays Mozart’s Concerto K. 467 for the first time, conducted by Eduardo Mata. In autumn, concert tour in Asia (South Korea and Taipei).

Marta and Eugene’s wedding

1976

1976

Numerous concerts in Europe (France, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal…). Plays in Spain, finally freed from Franco. Collaborations with Michael Tilson Thomas and Ormandy (in Los Angeles and Philadelphia). Divides his summer between the USA (Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart Festival, Puerto Rico) and Europe (Prades, Lucern). Organizes the Jornadas Casals in Mexico with Marta for the 100th anniversary of Casals’ birth, with many orchestral and chamber music concerts in October and November. It featured a new Mexican orchestra specially created for this occasion, the London Symphony and Casals’ closest musician friends. At Horowitz’s suggestion, prepares the Chopin Variations by Rachmaninoff, but will never perform them in public. After returning to CAMI the previous year, changes again his management and signs with ICM.

1977

1977

In February, tour in Italy. In March, recital at the Kennedy Center. Improvises an accompaniment for Luciano Pavarotti and Renata Scotto during a social event. First concerts under Rostropovich at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Repeated collaborations with Jerzy Semkow (in Saint Louis and Puerto Rico) and Sergiu Comissiona (in Pittsburgh and Baltimore). In the fall, American tour with the Trio. Columbia reissues some of his LPs (Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin) and proposes new recording projects, soon to be abandoned.

Marta and Eugene Istomin in 1976

1978

1978

In January, death of Humphrey. Participates in two tribute concerts. Gives nearly 100 concerts with orchestra, with Tennstedt (Detroit Symphony, Israel Philharmonic), Dorati (National Symphony), Steinberg (Seattle), Comissiona (American Symphony), Rudel (Mostly Mozart Festival), Skrowaczewski (Minneapolis), Mehta (Los Angeles), Erhling (Detroit Symphony), Zinman (Rochester), Fleisher (Annapolis) Joo (Calgary), Eros (San Diego), Gamba (Winnipeg), etc. Returns to Germany and goes to Austria for the first time.

1979

1979

Concerts and recitals in the USA and Europe. After the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty, obtains the agreement of the American, Egyptian and Israeli authorities to give master classes and concerts in Cairo and Jerusalem. Attempts to promote exchanges between Israeli and Egyptian musicians, a project that has been enthusiastically welcomed, but will not materialize. Tours in Germany, Austria, Spain, France and South America. Death of his mother on August 13 while playing Brahms’ 2nd Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Skrowaczewski. His love of books led him to become the advisor to William Jovanovich, the president of the major American publishing house HBJ. Records Schubert’s Sonata D. 850 and Handel Variations by Brahms for the French Television. Last recording of the Trio in July, Mendelssohn 2nd Trio.

Eugene and Marta Istomin coaching William and Martha Jovanovitch

1980

1980

Last tour of the Trio in January and February in the USA. Encourages Marta to accept the artistic direction of the Kennedy Center. Orchestral concerts with Rostropovich and the National Symphony, Dorati (Detroit Symphony and Royal Symphony), Zubin Mehta (New York Philharmonic), Pinchas Zukerman (English Chamber) and Jean-Bernard Pommier (Orchestre National de France). At Ormandy’s request, performs again the Tchaikovsky Concerto (which he had not played since 1962), for the 90th anniversary of Carnegie Hall. Supervises the re-release of Joseph Conrad’s complete works for HBJ.

Eugene Ormandy and Eugene Istomin

1981

1981

Although being very disappointed by Jimmy Carter’s defeat, accepts Rostropovich’s proposal to stand in for Serkin and perform for the inaugural concert of Reagan on January 18. Numerous performances of Mozart’s Concerto K. 467. Inaugurates the Pau Casals Auditorium in Sant Salvador, built in the gardens in front of Casals’ house that is transformed into a museum. The diplomatic tension caused by the War in Afghanistan forced him to abandon a project he had enthusiastically launched for HBJ: a series of books on the collections of the Hermitage Museum.

1982

1982

Numerous recitals, in London (Queen Elizabeth Hall), Chicago (Orchestra Hall), and many European towns, with one of his favorite programs : Bach Toccata BWV 914, Stravinsky Sonata, Beethoven Waldstein Sonata // Mozart Sonata K. 576, Chopin Nocturne Opus 15 No. 1 and Scherzo No. 4. Collaborations with Rostropovitch (National Symphony), Mehta (Philadelphia Orchestra), Bychkov (Buffalo Philharmonic). The Trio pays a tribute to their friend Abe Fortas, former judge of the Supreme Court, who died in April. Moves to Watergate in Washington. Continuation of the recording of the Beethoven’s Complete Violin Sonatas with Isaac Stern, which they had started in 1969.

Marta and Eugene Istomin, late 1970s

1983

1983

Performs Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Concerto for the first time in September with the National Symphony under Rostropovitch and in October with the Rochester Philharmonic under David Zinman. In May, last concert with Ormandy (Beethoven Emperor with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall). On November 22, last moving appearance of the Trio, playing the Andante of Schubert’s E flat Major Trio for the 20th Anniversary of Kennedy’s death. Finishes recording all Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas by Beethoven with Isaac Stern.

1984

1984

Begins the year in Europe, then in the USA, with a notable recital at the Kennedy Center. After a concert at the Hollywood Bowl (Beethoven 4 under Leonard Slatkin), returns with pleasure to Marlboro where he had not returned for 22 years. Tribute concert at the Juilliard School for Leonard Rose, whom died from leukemia on November 16. Buys the Steinway CD 18 which belonged to Horowitz and with which he had recorded Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Concerto in 1956. His favorite baseball team, the Detroit Tigers, triumphs in the World Series Championship.

Eugene Istomin in Detroit Tigers uniform

1985

1985

Member of the American delegation at the Budapest Cultural Forum in October and November, together with choreographer Trisha Brown, playwright Edward Albee and architect Peter Blake. Fights against the ban in Prague of Catastrophe, a Beckett play dedicated to Vaclav Havel. Once again spends a great part of the summer in Marlboro. Accepts the direction of the Competition and Piano Festival of the Maryland University, which he re-names in honor of William Kapell. Publication by HBJ of the facsimile edition of the Complete Works by Thomas Hardy, in 24 volumes, which he had suggested and supervised.

Samuel Beckett

1986

1986

Completely changes his management in Europe, choosing Riaskoff (Benelux and Germany), Ingpen & Williams (UK), Sofia Amman (Italy) and Valmalète (France), hoping for a better coherence and less transatlantic flights. Many concerts in France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal and Israel. First edition of the Kapell Competition with a very high level jury (Ax, Kuerti, Orozco, Pommier, Tocco, Toradze, Graffman, Aeschbacher, Lipkin, Magaloff, Browning, etc.). Commissions a piece to Dutilleux as compulsory work for the 1988 edition.

Eugene Istomin working on Schumann’s Sonata Opus 11

1987

1987

Tours in Italy in February and October, in Benelux in November and in England in December. New program of recital with mainly works he had never played before: Schumann’s Sonata No. 1; Debussy’s Images, Book 1, various pieces by Rachmaninoff. Plays it notably at Carnegie Hall on May 9 and at Queen Elizabeth Hall on December 2 (Rostropovitch attending). Records it for a CD published by the French label Adda. Resigns from the Kapell Competition because Maryland University wanted to give the First Price even if no candidate deserved it. Holidays in France (his first summer vacations since 1948). Publication by CBS of the 2 Beethoven Sonatas recorded with Rose in 1969.

Istomin, Pommier and Rorem. Maryland 1987

1988

1988

First tours across the USA with a specially equipped truck, driver and tuner. Wants to play on his own pianos to give his best and bring music to cities now deserted by the usual concert circuits. Around 70 concerts (including some concerts with orchestras and recital in major cities, from January to March then in September and October. Repeated collaborations with Rostropovich and the National Symphony (Brahms’ 2nd Concerto, Beethoven’s 4th Concerto). Concerts in France, Switzerland and in Germany. Ends the year in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

1989

1989

From January to March new tour with the truck with stops in Washington (recital at the Kennedy Center), New York (recital at Carnegie Hall) and Rochester (Beethoven 5th Concerto with Semkow). Death of Kyriena Siloti on July 28. Recital at the Montreux Festival in September, then long tour in Italy. In October and November second concert tour with the truck. Enlarges his solo repertoire, playing alternatively two programs and presenting in Italy an all-Beethoven program for the first time. Has surgery for a tendinitis of his pointer finger.

1990

1990

Tour with the truck from January 31 to April 17, ending with 2 concerts with the orchestra of his former school, the Curtis Institute. Tour in Italy in May. Participates in the Evian Festival which celebrates Stern’s 70th birthday, playing the Archduke Trio with Stern and Rostropovich. After another shorter truck tour in September, plays eight concerts in October with the Hallé Orchestra and Skrowaczewski (Mozart’s 21st Concerto). Marta leaves the direction of the Kennedy Center. On November 5, Eugene organizes a concert at the Juilliard School with Rostropovitch, in homage to Kyriena and Alexander Siloti. Tour in Australia in November. Beethoven recital at Carnegie Hall on December 5.

Rostropovitch and Istomin in 1988

 

1991

1991

Three truck tours in USA. Concerts with Rostropovich and the National Symphony in September (Beethoven‘s Fourth Concerto). Participates in Carnegie Hall Centennial Gala. Concert tour in France in October with a pilgrimage recital in the Théâtre de Perpignan and a Beethoven recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Records Beethoven Sonatas 14, 21 and 31 (CD issued in 1996 by Reference Recordings) in June.

Eugene and Marta Istomin in their Washington apartment

1992

1992

New truck tours in the USA in January, February and September. Takes part in the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico and in the Evian Festival where he plays Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Juilliard School Orchestra under Jean-Pierre Rampal and gives chamber music concert with Kavakos, Giuranna and Rostropovitch. Tour in Switzerland, France and Italy.

Eugene Istomin drawn by his friend Avigdor Arikha

1993

1993

Three truck tours in January-February, April and September. Invited by the Mostly Mozart Festival for Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto under Gerard Schwarz. Tour in France and Spain in October. Plays Medtner’s Sonata in G minor for the first time. His special concert in homage to Casals for the 20th anniversary of his death is recorded live at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and issued as a private CD (Bach, Toccata BWV 914; Mozart Sonata K. 283; Casals, Prelude; Medtner, Sonata Opus 22; Beethoven Waldstein Sonata, and Mendelssohn Song without word Op. 62 No. 1).

Eugene Istomin at home in Washington

1994

1994

1994 : Last truck tour. In February concerts with Rostropovich and the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall (Beethoven’s Third Concerto). Participates in the Evian Festival, playing Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with the Curtis Institute Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz and chamber music with Laredo and Rostropovitch. Plays with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the Pension Fund concert. 1995 : Shares the year between Europe and the USA. Records two Mozart’s piano concertos (N°21 K. 467 and N° 24 K. 491) in a single session with the Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz (issued by Reference Recordings). In September participates in a big cruise on the Mediterranean Sea dedicated to Casals, with concerts in Italy, Greece and Turkey. Sony reissues the complete recordings of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio.

1996

1996

1996 : Tour in Europe at the beginning of the year (Spain, Switzerland, France) with recitals at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, at the Tonhalle in Zurich and Salle Gaveau in Paris, where he performs the prelude Le jeu de contraires Dutilleux for the first time, dedicated to him, the composer attending. Concerts in Italy and the Netherlands in autumn. 1997 : Year disrupted by problems with his thumb, which required major surgery. Concerts in Europe: Italy (with RAI Torino and Genova Orchestras), England (Northern Sinfonia) and Poland (Warsaw Philharmonic). Participates in the Evian Festival for Rostropovich’s 70th birthday, playing Mozart’s Concerto N° 21 with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and chamber music with Isaac Stern, Yuri Bashmet and Mstislav Rostropovitch. In autumn recital at the Kennedy Center.

Istomin, Bashmet and Rostropovitch at Evian

1998

1998

1998 : Concert tour in Europe in autumn, including concerts with the orchestra of the San Carlo Opera in Napoli (Beethoven’s Concerto N° 3), with the Orchestre National de Lille under Jean-Claude Casadesus (Mozart’s Concerto N° 21) and a recital in Madrid.      1999 : Recitals in the south of USA. Plays Beethoven’s Concerto N° 3 at the Lincoln Center with the New York Chamber Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz. Series of master classes at the Manhattan School of Music.

Eugene Istomin giving a master class at Manhattan School of Music

2000

2000

Participates in the Kronberg Festival (master classes and concerts). Is made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur at the Chatelet Theater, where he made his debut in France just 50 years earlier. Jubilee in New York for his 75th birthday initiated by Rostropovich and with all his musician friends. The benefit proceeds of this evening allow the creation of two scholarships in the name of Eugene Istomin at the Manhattan School of Music. Carries out his project to pay a tribute to Paul Paray, by recording his Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra with the Budapest Symphonic Orchestra under Jean-Bernard Pommier. At this time, he also records Mozart’s 9th Concerto and Beethoven 3rd Concerto.

Arthur Conte and Eugene Istomin

2001

2001

In June, participates in the inaugural concert of the renovated Casals Museum in Sant Salvador, with Rostropovich and Montserrat Caballé, in the presence of the King of Spain and the President of Catalonia. In December, records the first part of his Great Conversations in Music series, which is dedicated to the piano, with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Gary Graffman, Leon Fleisher and Charles Rosen.

Gary Graffman, Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman

2002

2002

Discovery of his liver cancer in March. In April records the second part of the Great Conversations in Music with the composers Ned Rorem, George Perle, Milton Babbitt, Richard Danielpour, Lowell Liebermann and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. In November, carries out a new episode about string instruments with Claude and Pamela Frank, Lynn Harrell, Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Sharon Robinson and Arnold Steinhardt.

Eugene Istomin and Chutney

2003

2003

Last part of the Great Conversations in Music with conductors James Conlon, Zubin Mehta and Mstislav Rostropovich. Dies in Washington on October 10.