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Constance Keene (Piano)

Born: Feb 9, 1921 - Brooklyn, NY, USA
Died: December 24, 2005

The American pianist, Constance Keene, studied in New York with Abram Chasins, among others. She won the Naumburg Piano Competition in 1943. In 1946, she stood in for Vladimir Horowitz when he was unavailable for a concert. She claimed she was the only female pianist to have ever been given this honour. In 1949 she married her former teacher Abram Chasins. He was also her duo-partner. After Chasins' death in 1987, Constance Keene married Milton Kean.

Constance Keene later became a teacher herself. Her pupils included the children of Artur Rubinstein, who said he was "flabbergasted by the colour, sweep and imagination and ... incredible technique. I cannot imagine anybody, including Sergei Rachmaninov, playing the piano so beautifully". Since then, her international career, on stage and on disc, included appearances on major recital series and with the world's leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker. Winner of the presitigious Naumburg prize, she was no stranger to chamber music. Her collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin at the Gstaad Festival won critical acclaim, as did her celebrated tour, in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, with Benny Goodman.

Featured in David Dubal's book, Remembering Horowitz, Constance Keene was herself a contributor to Clavier magazine. She was a frequent adjudicator for a number of international competitions, including the Van Cliburn, the Naumburg, the Scottish International and Young Concert Artists. Most recently, she served as a selector for the prestigious Alberto Vilar Global Fellows in the Performing Arts. Her master-classes took her to Asia, Europe and South Africa. One of the most sought-after teachers in the USA, she was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, where she has taught since 1969, and was also a member of it's Board of Trustees.

Constance Keene possesed a prolific discography. She attracted great praise for her 1964 recording of S. Rachmaninov's Preludes, and in addition, won critical acclaim for her recordings of Hummel, Weber and Mendelssohn. Her recordings of the complete Hummel sonatas for Newport Classic, received critical acclaim from American Record Guide and Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times who said: "The Hummel piano sonatas, scintillatingly performed by Constance Keene ... and I find myself listening to them constantly. Ms. Keene brings suppleness, pearly tone, textural clarity and brilliance, touched by grace to her performances." And Harold Schonberg in the American Record Guide states, "Ms. Keene emphasizes the harmonic language that looks back to Mozart and the virtuoso elements that anticpate Liszt. Her fleet and accurate passagework exactly suits the writing, her textures are always clear, her scale work a delight and her musicianship is beyond reproach."

Source: Wikipedia Website; World Concert Artist Directory Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (January 2007)

Constance Keene: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Constance Keene (World Concert Artist Directory)
Constance Keene (Wikipedia)
Manhattan School of Music: Faculty Bio: Constance Keene
Constance Keene - American pianist and teacher Constance Keene (Music & Vision)

Constance Keene, 84, Much-Recorded Concert Pianist, Teacher (The New York Sun)
Independent Online Edition > Obituaries: Constance Keene
Paid Notice: Deaths Keene, Constance (New York Times)
Legendary generosity. Remembering Constance Keene (1921-2005) (Music & Vision)

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