A tribute to Igor Kipnis

Calimerio Soares (1944-2011)
viernes, 24 de enero de 2003
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9,88E-05 Among the advantage that modern technology has afforded mankind is the Internet. Electronic mail with its many discussion lists is a true invitation to debate on a variety of subjects in different fields of human knowledge. Through one of this Internet discussing lists that I came to keep contact with the great musician Igor Kipnis, dead on the beginning of 2002 at 71 years old.This virtual friendship grew to the point where I was invited to send him two of my works for solo harpsichord. On that occasion, Igor was playing in a four hands piano duo with pianist Karen Kushner. It was 1998 and the Kipnis-Kushner Piano Duo was coming to Brazil for a tour, when I was surprised by Igor's message with a request to write a short four hands piano piece which was appropriate to an ‘encore'. Surprised, honored and full of enthusiasm by the invitation that I start to compose a piece whose musical theme have occurred to me many years ago. So, Batuccata was born: a sort of mixture of Batuque with Toccata.Unfortunately, it was not possible for me to attend the recital that the Duo presented in São Paulo city, on August of the same year. However, later on I received a videotape with the recital's recording in which my short piece have been announced and world premiered. I ever imagined that the Kipnis-Kushner Piano Duo – during its short but brilliant career – was able to perform Batuccata in the many concerts presented in the United States, as well as to include the work on its first Duo's CD “Four Hands”. So they made it, for my great surprise and enjoyment.Igor KipnisIgor Kipnis was born on September 27th, 1930 in Berlin, Germany. His father, the famous bass Alexander Kipnis (from the Metropolitan Opera House of New York), was at that time a singer of the Berlin State Opera. Despite being a Jew, he kept his post as a famous singer at the beginning of the Nazism in Germany. Later on he moved to Vienna. When the Nazism arrived in Austria, the family was touring in Australia. Then, Alexander decided to move with his family to the United States, before the beginning of II World War.Alexander wished him a ‘more economically stable career than the musical one', but Igor was not happy with his father's decision. He went further and showed to his father that he could get the highest standard as a harpsichord soloist.Since his debut as harpsichordist in 1959, Igor Kipnis performed with the most world prestigious orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the New Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Academy of St. Marin-in-the-Fields, under the baton of Sir Neville Marriner, Pierre Boulez, Leopold Stokowski, Roger Norrington, Leonard Slatkin and Jesus López-Cobos, among others in the United States as well as in Europe. He formed duos with Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Silverstein, Angel Romero, James Galway, Judith Nelson and René Jacobs, among others.His discography is enormous. He has more than 80 albums to his credit and got at least three nominations for the ‘Grammy, 3 Records of the Year'. Specialized publications have pointed him the ‘Best Harpsichordist' in 1978, 1979 and 1980, and the ‘Best Keyboard Performer' in 1982 and 1986. In 1993, the Illinois Wesleyan University granted him with the title of Doctor Honoris Causa.In his last messages, Igor told me about his weaken health. The news on his death occurred on January 24th 2002 have surprised and astonished us!Although the short period in such we kept our friendship, we have been able to exchange many and precious information. He was a ‘gentleman': a modest person, serious and helpful! As a harpsichordist, I already admired him long time ago, even before we became friends through the Internet.This is a tribute and a thought of gratitude to one of the most prestigious musicians of the 20th Century.
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