The multi-talented American pianist, teacher, musicologist, writer on music, broadcaster and composer, Abram Chasins, studied at the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute and Columbia University. His major teachers included such legendary musicians as Ernest Hutcheson and Josef Hofmann. He later studied analysis with Tovey in London (1931). From 1926 to 1935 (or 1936), he taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and later privately. For a decade beginning in 1935, he was an outstanding pianist throughout the world, appearing in solo recitals and with leading orchestras everywhere. In 1949 he married his pupil Constance Keene, with whom he subsequently played and recorded duo-piano works.
Abram Chasins became famous for many other aspects of his musical career as well. More than one hundred of his compositions have been published, performed and recorded. As fortune would have it, he made his professional debut playing the solo part in his own Piano Concerto No. 1 in F Minor (1928) with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ossip Gabrilowitsch at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and, later, Carnegie Hall in New York. He also played his second Piano Concerto in F Sharp Minor, dating from 1931, with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. He attained an international reputation in his early 20s as a protege of Josef Hofmann. Subsequently, he became the first American composer of the younger generation to be performed by Arturo Toscanini; the great maestro chose his Parade and Flirtation in a Chinese Garden for a concert with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Chasins retired from the concert stage in 1946 to devote himself entirely to the musical directorship of radio station WQXR, the radio network of the New York Times with which he had been affiliated since 1943. His tenure established a nationwide standard for classical music programming which has never been surpassed.
Speaking of Pianists (Alfred Knopf, 1957) was Abram Chasins' first published book; it has become an international source book. Other volumes from his hand, among them The Van Cliburn Legend (Doubleday, 1959), The Appreciation of Music (Crown, 1966), Music at the Crossroads (MacMillan, 1972) and Leopold Stokowski, A Profile (Hawthorne, 1979), also won wide attention.
As an adjudicator, Abram Chasins served on jury panels for the Van Cliburn and National Federation of Music Clubs Competitions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera auditions, the Chopin Prize and the Rachmaninoff and Leventritt Foundation awards.
Abram Chasins was invited to become Musician-in-Residence at the University of Southern California, a post created specifically for him. In the course of his stay, he was honored by the City of Los Angeles for "distinguished service in transforming USC's campus 'rock station' into a strong cultural force and a nationally prominent broacasting entity" Previously, as a juror for the Cliburn Competition, he had been named an "Honorary Citizen of the State of Texas."
As a composer, Abram Chasins wrote many pieces, primarily for his own performance, and later, when he married pianist Constance Keene, for their duo-piano concerts. He became especially well-known for his Three Chinese Pieces (A Shanghai Tragedy, Flirtation in a Chinese Garden, and Rush Hour in Hong Kong), originally published in 1926. A revised edition of these pieces was published by IPAM in 1990 with a preface by Constance Keene. The Concert Paraphrase on Strauss's Artists' Life, is among his best works for two pianos, four hands.