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Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler (Piano)

Born: July 16, 1863 - Bielitz, Austrian Silesia
Died: August 20, 1927 - Chicago, Illinois, USA

The Austrian-born American pianist, Fannie [Fanny] Bloomfield-Zeisler, was born Fannie Blumenfeld in Bielitz, Austrian Silesia, and emigrated to the USA with her family at the age of 4 in 1867. The family settled in Chicago, Illinois, where they later changed their name to Bloomfield. She was the sister of Maurice Bloomfield and the aunt of Leonard Bloomfield. At the age of 6, before receiving any musical instruction, she began picking out tunes on the piano. Her first teachers were in Chicago: Bernard Ziehn and Carl Wolfsohn. In 1877, Annette Essipova, then on tour in the USA, heard her play and advised that she become a pupil of Theodor Leschetizky. Blumenfeld (as she then was) made her debut at the age of 11 in February 1875. In 1878, she returned to Austria to study in Vienna, under Theodor Leschetizky. While in Austria, she changed her name from Blumenfeld to Bloomfield.

At the expiration of five years she returned to the USA, where, from 1883 to 1893, Fannie Bloomfield repeatedly gave recitals, playing with all the leading orchestras throughout the country. She performed in concert in Chicago in April 1884. In January 1885, she debuted in New York City. In 1893 she made a tour through Europe; and such was her success at Berlin, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Vienna, and elsewhere, that she prolonged her stay abroad until 1895. During the season 1895-1896 she gave upward of 50 concerts in America, and in 1897 made a tour of the Pacific states. In 1898 she again went abroad, and gave a series of concerts in Great Britain and France. Around the turn of the century, she made piano rolls of various piano compositions, Frédéric Chopin's Waltz No. 11 in G minor and L.v. Beethoven's Piano Sonata, Op. 111 being among them. Her last performance was in February 1925 in Chicago. She played L.v. Beethoven's Andante Favori and concertos by F. Chopin and Robert Schumann.

Fannie Bloomfeld married the attorney Sigmund Zeisler in 1885. In 1888, she returned to Vienna to study with Leschetizky. She also began to tour in Europe and the USA, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The Zeislers had three sons: Leonard, Paul and Ernest.

Unlike Padrewski, Artur Rubinstein, and Vladimir Horowitz, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler's name is not one that immediately springs to mind when the subject of the great pianists of the early 20th century is broached. Her name is most likely to be known to those who collect piano rolls, are well-versed in the histories of recital pianists, or have heard her piano roll performances reproduced from LP records. In her own day, however, Zeisler would have been one of the first pianists music fans would have thought of. Among her contemporaries were Ferruccio Busoni, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Moriz Rosenthal, all still in their prime and touring widely. This generation of pianists regarded Zeisler as an equal in terms of pianism.

Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler only made piano rolls, never pursuing the alternate method of making phonograph recordings. Zeisler's rolls were made for Welte-Mignon, the Welte system being the reproducing roll device of choice for concert pianists, as it recorded a maximum amount of the player's touch, pedaling, and degrees of volume. Zeisler was a player equipped with a tremendous amount of strength in her arms. Her F. Chopin is quite different from the norm established nowadays - a lot of it is loud, played with energy and gusto, in the manner of Franz Liszt. Zeisler's turbulent and stormy L.v. Beethoven's Piano Sonata, Op. 111, is a marvel. The encore pieces, some rather rare, are delightful and interpreted with an ear toward variety of approach.

Source: Jewish Encyclopedia Website (1902); Ariana Website (Author: Uncle Dave Lewis, October 2010)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2011)

Fanny Bloomfield-Zeisler: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler (Wikipedia)
Bloomfield-Zeisler, Fannie (Jewish Encyclopedia)

Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler and Sigmund Zeisler Papers (Newberry Library Chicago)
Caswell Collection, Vol. 3: Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler (Ariana)

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