Friedrich Gulda(16th May 1930~27th Jan. 2000)
[ Wolf-Genius in Sheep's Clothing ]
[ Left ] Friedrich Gulda(photo from Philips Homepage)
Someone says Friedrich Gulda is very excellent, but someone he is out of mind as a classical pianist. But I think he has all conditions that we called him excellent, individuality and technique in his record at least.
was born at Vienna in a teacher's family, his father was
a dilletante musician. He learned piano by Felix Pazofsky
from 7 years old, and entered Vienna music academy in
1942. He was taught piano by Bruno Seidlhofer, and
musical theory by Joseph Marx(composer, also taught Rudolf
Serkin). He won the
first prize of Geneva International competition on 1946.
Jörg Demus and Paul Badura-Skoda are similar to him by
age, and they began to be called "Viennese
troica". He began concert tour from 1947, and
contracted Decca in 1949, the year of advent of magnetic
tape instead of 78s. The earliest commercial recording I
know is Beethoven's Sonata No.14 and 31 in 1949(Decca).
Already he passed away, and considerably reduced the recording of classical repertoires from 1980s. In 1990s, his live recordings are mostly composed of Jazz, transcriptions, and his own compositions(jazz-likes). Therefore, if we want to listen his classical repertoires, unhappily we should select his 'somewhat older' 1950~70s recordings. Moreover, his favorite is Beethoven, most of which are not released internationally or not easy to buy, because in the stereo era he contracted with independent labels such as Amadeo(Austria) and MPS(West Germany). The CD releases of these recordings are by major distributors' license(HMF, Polygram...) from time to time but not often, and recordings by Decca is available only partly and recently. In short, Gulda is not lucky in CD reissue.
fans would not want to pass his recordings. The most
important one is surely the second complete sonatas in 1967(Amadeo). First of all, his technique is marvelous.
It is said that a pianist said 'beast-like technique'
about the Hammerklavier in this set. Most of all, his
playing is fresh and with much musical activity and
spontaneity. This set reveals Gulda's thought more
clearly than his older one recorded from 1950 to 1958 by
Decca. But this set is not only rare but also deficient
of 'sincerity' - only sum of 9 single CDs, and devoid of
any liner notes. The next is complete concertos with Vienna Philharmonic
conducted by Horst Stein(Decca, 1970 & 1971). Stein's support and the orchestra is
undoubtedly the first level in traditional view, and
Gulda's playing is also impressive - bright but with a
grand scale. But Decca has not yet released this
recording as CD internationally - only to get the German
or Japanese local versions. The complete cello
musics(sonatas and variations) with Pierre Fournier is
very good(DG Dokumente). Gulda's spontaneity is perfectly
fused with Fournier's fluent and graceful music(See his
tribute to Pierre Fournier in his
page). Gulda's ability
in chamber music is enough to enjoy this set. His
Diabelli variations(MPS; HMF released CD) is to be
categorized as the Amadeo sonata set in style. The fast
tempo and precise technique is evident.
Peter Cossé referred on his gifts 'Wolf-genius in sheep's clothing(ein genialer Wolf im Schafspelz)' in the liner note of Philips pianist series(Vol.2, 456 820-2), comparing the recording of Beethoven's Concerto No.1 with Böhm(1951) to that with Stein(1970). It's interesting expression from which we infer the face of Gulda in a tail coat at concert, and witty compression of his musical essence - an excellent player who tended to play jazz later, unhappy to the classical music fans.
[ Right ] Gulda, Series II ; from Amazon(Germany division)
(c) 2000~ , Youngrok LEE ; Link free, but please get my approval before you reuse, copy, or quote this materials.
Created ; 20th Mar. 2001