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Rudolph Gruen (Composer, Arranger)

Born: April 28, 19001 or February 16, 19002 - St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Died: May 1, 1970 - Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA

The American pianist, composer and music pedagogue, Rudolph Gruen [Grün], was a pupil of Harold Bauer. He made his debut in St. Louis in 1918, and subsequently appeared with important orchestras and has toured America, New Zealand and Germany. Later he was active mainly in the New York area.

Rudolph Gruen taught at what later became the Manhattan School of Music, and at the Juilliard School of Music. Among his students were the songwriter, composer and pianist Cy Coleman (1929-2004), the composer Leander Dell'Anno, the pianist Mary Rachal Lipford (1912-2008), the composer Earl Dumour, the physicist and a composer Arthur Roberts (1912-2004), the blind pianist Rose Resnick (1906-2006), and the pianist Roy Eaton (b 1930), who gave many first performances of Gruen's works. As a pianist, Gruen was for several years accompanist to the tenor Richard Crooks and later to the soprano Vera Curtis. Gruen was also noted as a composer and wrote many original works and transcriptions for duo piano. He played in the debut of his Alpine concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony in 1962.

Rudolph Gruen and Frances Hall taught at the Manhattan School of Music. The two found they were a congenial piano team, and soon their work as duo-pianists was in demand. On June 4, 1932, they married in the Riverside Church, and continued their busy career, which included nearly 150 radio broadcasts, including weekly program on WNBC from 1930 to 1936. Avoiding as much as possible arrangements for two pianos, they preferred to play from the literature originally composed for two pianos. Nevertheless, Gruen also contributed his own arrangements to the duo. Their joint career flourished for over nine years. A highlight of this period was their performance for the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia. After the assassination of most of the royal family during the revolution, he escaped to America and wrote a book, Once a Grand Duke.' Parties were given to promote it, and Frances and Rudolph were asked to perform at one. The party was held in the ballroom of Del Monico's. Frances and Rudolph played Russian selections on the two Steinways, and Grace Moore, then at the height of her fame as an opera and screen star, was also on the program. The duke was enchanted with the Gruens' playing. Afterward he declared he had never heard a woman pianist play so powerfully. Although the joint career of the Gruens was a success, their marriage ended after nine years, and they were divorced in 1941. Their only child, Keith, remained with Frances. In 1946 she married Professor Lyman Ballard, a Naval architect (d 1975). She was a member of the piano faculty at the Manhattan School of Music from 1932 to 1981 and benefactress of the music library. In 1988 she was given an honorary doctorate. She died in 1989.

Works (selection)

Alpine concerto, for piano & orchestra, Op. 50 (1943-1961)

Valse grotesque, for violin & piano, Op. 8 No. 1
Scherzo for string quartet, Op. 4, No. 2
Fantasia for cello. (1956)

The phantom ships, for piano, Op. 2 (original for voice) (1943)
Prelude, for 2 pianos, Op. 4a, No. 1 (193_)
Scherzo, for 2 pianos, Op. 4a, No. 2 (193_)
Prelude in G minor, for piano, Op. 5 No. 1 (1924)
Beauty and the beast, for piano, Op. 10. (1924)
Mountain splendor, for piano, Op. 12b (original two pianos)
Two interludes, for piano, Op. 13
Valse pensive, for 2 pianos, Op. 14, No. 1
The horse race, for piano, Op. 24a, No. 4 (1942)
Sonata, Op. 29, for piano (1941)
Rhapsody, for piano, Op. 31
Country dances, piano, Op. 36 (1942)
Chinese clown dance, for piano, Op. 37 (1942)
Cascades, for piano, Op. 38 (1942)
Exploration, for piano, Op. 47
Classical variations, for piano, Op. 51 (1955-1960)

Scherzo, for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1936)
Humoresque, for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1936)

Give me a tender heart, for voice & piano (poem by anonymous) (1927)
Hi-ho, for coloratura soprano & piano, op. 3, No. 2 (1927).
Romance, for high voice, violin, & piano, Op. 3 (words by Patricia Collier) (1927)
The shadow, for voice & piano (poem by John Oxenham) (1929)
Overtones, Op. 21, for voice & piano (poem by William Alexander Percy) (1936)
The phantom ships, for solo voice, chorus (SSAA) & piano; originally for voice & piano (words by Gordon Johnstone)
The David jazz, for voice & piano, Op. 18 (words by Edwin Meade Robinson)
We two, for voice & piano (words by Burke Boyce)
Liberty, hymn, Op. 39 ()
Heavenly peace, a Christmas carol for chorus (SATB), Op. 42, No. 2 (1947)
A goodnight song, for high voice & piano. Op. 44, No. 2 (1951)
Life, for high voice & piano,, Op. 45 (1952)

César Franck: Prelude, fugue and variation, transcribed for 2 pianos, 4 hands
Moritz Moszkowski: Valse brillante in E major, adapted for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1934)
Edward MacDowell: Polonaise, Op. 46, No. 12, arranged for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1942)
Reinhold Moritevich Glière: Russian sailors' dance, transcribed for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1942)
Felix Mendelssohn: On Wings of song, adapted for 2 pianos, 4 hands (1934)
Le comte de St. Germain: L'incostanza delusa, suite from the opera, transcribed for piano by Rudolph Gruen, Op. 49


Source: Under the Piano Stool Blog; Bits & pieces from various sources
1. Death Records Website
2. The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians (1938)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2013, June 2015); Roy Eaton (June 2015)

Rudolph Gruen: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Recorded History: Rudolph Gruen plays Griffes (1928) (Under the Piano Stool)




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