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Richard Buhlig (Piano, Arranger)

Born: December 21, 1880 - Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: January 30, 1952 - Los Angeles, California, USA

The American pianist an teacher, Richard Buhlig [Bühlig], was born in Chicago of German parents and received his early training there. In 1897 he moved to Vienna to study under Teodor Leszetycki. He completed his studies in 1900.

Richard Buhlig gave his first public concert in 1901 in Berlin, and toured extensively in Europe until late 1906. The next year he made his first mature American debut, with the Philadelphia Orchestra in New York City on November 5, 1907. In 1918 Buhlig joined the staff of the Juilliard School (then called "Institute of Musical Art") in New York as a piano teacher. He gave recitals of L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Frédéric Chopin, Schubert and Robert Schumann (with emphasis on L.v. Beethoven). However, he soon left the position and went to Europe again. Some years later he returned to the USA and settled in Los Angeles, dividing his time between teaching and performing.

As a pianist, Richard Buhlig was highly regarded for his performances of J.S. Bach (particularly the two piano transcription of The Art of Fugue (BWV 1080) he made and performed), late L.v. Beethoven and J. Brahms. However, much of his repertoire was contemporary or near-contemporary music. He gave the American premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's Op. 11 and performed pieces by other European modernists such as Ferruccio Busoni (his Fantasia Contrappuntistica was dedicated to Buhlig), Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Claude Debussy. He also played music by new composers: Ruth Crawford and Adolf Weiss among others. In the 1920ís he began playing Henry Cowell (whom he also taught) and his circle. In early 1930ís Buhlig tutored John Cage: it was he who advised Cage to study with A. Schoenberg. The German pianist Grete Sultan, mentor to Christian Wolff and friend to Cage (whom she had met in 1946 through Buhlig), had studied under Buhlig in early 1900ís - they became lifelong friends, and Buhlig apparently sponsored her immigration to the USA. His students included also Henry Cowell, Wesley Kuhnle, Leonard Stein and Peter Hewitt. Buhlig, Kuhnle, and Cowell gave a concert tour of the Soviet Union together in 1928.

Richard Buhlig and Kuhnle's performance of Buhlig's two piano transcription of The Art of the Fugue (BWV 1080) and a solo recording of J.S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue in D minor (BWV 903) and 2 Preludes & Fugues from WTC 2 and two of L.v. Beethovenís late Piano Sonatas are the only available recordings of his playing. He also composed a little.

Source: Wikipedia Website (September 2011) [based on Charles Hopkins: "Richard Buhlig" in Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed December 11, 2006); Andrea Olmstead: Juilliard: A History (University of Illinois Press, 1999); Judith Tick: Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer's Search for American Music (Oxford University Press US, 1997)]; Newsable Music Website (Photo 01 from 1930, photographed by Johan Hagemeyer, courtesy of the Online Archive of California); Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2011)

Richard Buhlig: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Richard Buhlig (Wikipedia)

Richard Buhlig (Newsable Music)

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