The career of pianist Jeffrey Biegel has been marked by bold, creative achievements and highlighted by a series of firsts.
He performed the first live internet recitals in New York and Amsterdam in 1997 and 1998, enabling him to be seen and heard by a global audience. In 1999, he assembled the largest consortium of orchestras (over 25), to celebrate the millennium with a new concerto composed for him by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The piece, entitled 'Millennium Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra', was premiered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 1997, he performed the World Premiere of the restored, original 1924 manuscript of George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' with the Boston Pops. Charles Strouse composed a new work titled 'Concerto America' for Biegel, celebrating America and honoring the heroes and events of 9-11. Biegel premiered the piece with the Boston Pops in 2002. He transcribed the first edition of Balakirev's 'Islamey Fantasy' for piano and orchestra, which he premiered with the American Symphony Orchestra in 2001, and edited and recorded the first complete set of all '25 Preludes' by Cesar Cui.
Currently, he is assembling the first global consortium for the new 'Concerto no. 3 for Piano and Orchestra' being composed for him by Lowell Liebermann for 2005-06-07. The World Premiere will take place with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Delfs on May 12-14 2006, followed by the European Premiere with the Schleswig Holstein Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gerard Oskamp, February 6-9, 2007.
Biegel is currently on the piano faculty at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Chopin's student Carl Filtsch's lost Konzertstuck for Piano and Orchestra
I received an email from a former pupil of Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, Fred Gajewski, who has become a historian. He shared a most intriguing find that I am very interested to explore for a world premiere and future performances. In the links and article below, you will find out about the pupil of Chopin, Carl Filtsch, who died before his fifteenth birthday and was a brilliant prodigy that Franz Liszt acknowledged: "When this little one begins to tour," said Liszt of Carl Filtsch, "I will have to close up shop."
He also studied with Clara Wieck-Schumann's father, though his studies with Chopin are evident in this remarkable 15 minute Konzertstuck for Piano and Orchestra. The work resembles the Chopin's Concerto no. 1 in e minor in inspiration, though the harmonies are definitely Filtsch''s.
For my conductor and administrative friends reading, I plan to learn the single movement work for the 07-08 season, which can be paired with Chopin's Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise, or even the Concerto no. 1 in e minor should there be interest--one on each program half. It can also be an excellent source for educational outreach that pianists and teachers in the communities would be excited to learn about in my visits to their schools during my stay. Though I am stilling planning to bring the Billy Joel concerto to orchestras in 06-07-08-09 and beyond, I hope to perform the Filtsch as well in cities that would find the work of interest.
The only incarnation of the Filtsch piece at present is the mechanical one at
You can find out more at
Jeffrey's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Software revives antique piano concerto
Friday, January 20, 2006
BY JULIA M. SCOTT
The 160-year-old musical treasure that Westfield piano teacher Ferdinand Gajewski discovered while a graduate student was nearly lost -- again -- save for cutting-edge computer software.
A concerto by Carl Filtsch, one of the greatest pianists of his time before he died at 14, languished in Gajewski's basement for 25 years before one of his students told him he could make playable copies using a computer program.
Gajewski, 64, who studied at Juilliard, typed in each of the 20,000 notes using a program called Finale, which prints the music out and creates an electronic performance. He finished entering in the final musical notes right before Christmas.
Since then, the score for a 60-piece orchestra has drawn much attention. The online site where the performance is available, http:/ /www.freewebs.com/fjgajewski/, received 400 hits in two days, a stampede in the classical music world.
"This Web site can't be getting more hits unless it were pornography," Gajewski said. The score is available at http://www.booklocker.com.
The Finale-generated performance begins with dark chords before the tension resolves into a simple theme that is developed with expression and drama. A drawn- out cadenza, where the unaccompanied pianist must quickly maneuver up and down the keyboard, allows the player to show off his ability.
The piece is technically as demanding as other noted concertos for piano, according to those who have played it.
"It was much more than I expected out of a 13-year-old," said Gajewski. "This is as great as any grown person could write."
Gajewski stumbled upon the score, which was lost after Filtsch's death, while researching his doctoral dissertation on Polish pianist Frederic Chopin. Filtsch was Chopin's most talented student, and so impressed the master that he mentioned a major work by Filtsch in his letters. Gajewski read the letters and traced Filtsch's descendants to a titled English family that had inherited all of his compositions. The piano teacher traveled to England to meet with the family, which agreed to give him a microfilm copy of the neat, handwritten score.
Few know Filtsch today, although he was very popular during his short lifetime.
Filtsch was born in Germany in 1830 and was immediately recognized for his natural musical talents. By 6, he was performing throughout Europe and had a patron, a Hungarian countess, who paid his way. At 11, he started studying with Chopin.
Filtsch composed more than a dozen works, but his most ambitious piece, the piano concerto that Gajewski found, was never performed. Filtsch was backstage at the world premiere when he became so ill he could not go on stage.
Weeks later he died, most likely of an infection caused by a burst appendix, Gajewski said. Other scholars believe Filtsch died of tuberculosis.
Now, some 160 years after his death, Filtsch's concerto is back on the performance track.
Julia M. Scott covers Westfield. She may be reached at jscott@star ledger.com or (908) 302-1505.
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