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Sigi on the Accordion

Shivah Stars

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Alexis Weissenberg.(Brownie Harris/NYT)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Alexis Weissenberg, who died Sunday in Switzerland at 82. Before living in Switzerland, he lived in France, New York, pre-war Palestine, Turkey, and Bulgaria, where he was born. He and his mother tried to escape into Turkey in 1941, but instead were put in a concentration camp; they were allowed out because a German officer enjoyed the way “Sigi” performed Schubert on an accordion. “Weissenberg’s cool yet blazing approach divided reviewers,” the obituary notes. “Where some heard impeccable technique, others heard soulless efficiency. Where some embraced the drama of his interpretations, others condemned them for aggressiveness.” You be the judge:

Alexis Weissenberg, Pianist of Fire and Ice, Dies at 82 [NYT]

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If I recall, at one point he had to support himself designing greetings cards, an anecdote I’m surprised didn’t make it into the NYTimes obit. The Beethoven concertos with Von Karajan, who loved his playing, were until recently still available on EMI.

Also great, with accompanying video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgJ0XWyYY4Y

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Sigi on the Accordion

Shivah Stars

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