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Léon Kartun (Piano, Arranger)

Born: June 30, 1895 - Paris, France
Died: September 1981 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

The French pianist, Léon Kartun, entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1911 in the class of Diémer; he obtained the first prize for piano in the following year.

Léon Kartun quickly gained a reputation as a virtuoso, and his talent was expressed in many ways: he was soloist, chamber musician, composer and transcriber. Although he played immediately after at (impresario) Colonne's concerts, then in recitals, the real beginning of his career dates from 1918. Since then he gave 25 recitals in Paris and made numerous tours in France and abroad. In August 1924 he played a keyboard concerto by J.S. Bach at the Proms in London under the baton of Henry J. Wood. He was, furthermore, the regular partner of the violinist and composer George Enescu (1881-1955). Kartun was also a conductor, and the famous Jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli (1908-1997) was a violinist in his orchestra.

Léon Kartunís had a broad repertoire. During the 1920ís and the 1930ís he recorded works by François Couperin, J.S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Jean-Philippe Rameau, W.A. Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber; Felix Mendelssohn, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt; Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel; Gabriel Fauré; Isaac Albéniz, and Manuel De Falla. In 1934 he recorded classical duets with the French jazz violinist Michel Warlop (1911-1947; under the name Waclaw Niemczyk). In 1934, he recorded under the name of Leo Kartun and his orchestra, jazz titles such as: Knick Knack Blues; Heureux, Joyeux, Amoureux by Jean Wiener; Waiting for you by H. Atkins. During World War II, he was a prisoner in a concentration camp in the Channel Island of Alderney. He composed study pieces for piano, arranged for piano works by J.S. Bach and Nicolò Paganini, and edited 36 sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti.

In 1947-1948, Léon Kartun toured France, Switzerland and Belgium. Over sixty concerts were given in the benefit of the Fédération Nationale des Déportés Internés, Résistants et Patriotes (FNDIRP). In October 1947, a concert was held at Salle Braun in Metz, attended by the Mayor, the Chief of Staff of the Préfet, the representative of the Military Governor and Dr. Burger, Président départemental de la FNDIRP. Music critic of Le Lorrain gave a very flattering account, regretting that the piano was not up to the talent of the player. Kartun played again in Metz in October 1950, as part of Beethoven Festival in which he played five sonatas by L.v. Beethoven.

Léon Kartun was interested in jazz. During a concert he gave in 1949 in Roubaix he played his Caprice rythmique pour le piano sur un motif de Paganinia. This is the well-known theme which attracted F. Liszt, J. Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninov and W. Lutoslawski (Variations sur un thème de Paganini pour deux pianos). The works was published by Salabert Editions in 1948 (the original is in the National Library of France). He also recorded this work.

After World War II, Léon Kartun recorded a little, the last known recording probably from 1957. He was a piano teacher at the Conservatoire de Versailles in 1962-1963. In 1965, he also published at Éditions ouvrières: Synthèse de la technique quotidienne du piano. 142 exercices résumant toutes les difficultés pianistiques. He died in in 1981, aged 85. There is no more information on the last thirty years of his life.

Source: Concert programme given by Kartun and Enesco in Paris (1923), tranlasted from French by Kevin Kartun; Le Republicain Lorraine Website; Bits & pieces from various sources
Contributed by
Dr Kevin Kartun FAusIMM (Karmar Mining Services Pty Ltd, Lane Cove West, NSW, Australia); Henri Musielak (Proms 1924 & Tunis Symphony 1948 posters, January 2013; Photo 02 & addition to bio, August 2013); Aryeh Oron (Jabuary 2013, April 2016); Nicole Florence (April 2016)

Léon Kartun: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Piano Transcriptions:
Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Pianist Léon Kartun, Composer Ralph Erwin (Hal-SHS)

Musicien virtuose (Le Republicain Lorraine) [French]

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