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Harold Samuel (Piano)

Born: May 23, 1879 - London, England
Died: January 25, 1937 - London, England

The distinguished English pianist and pedagogue, Harold Samuel, studied at the Royal College of Music in London - piano with the eminent scholar and pianist Edward Dannreuther and composition with Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. Later he was on its faculty.

Harold Samuel was particularly distinguihed as an interpreter of Bach, whose entire keyboard oeuvre he had learnt by heart. At his London debut in 1898 he played Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), unknown at that time in London. He and Walter Gieseking were among the first pianists of the 20th century to play pure-Bach, distinguished for having programmed large scale works by Bach in their recitals. Unlike Gieseking's sovereign instrumental and musical mastery, Samuel sounds correct, academic and less interesting. While his Bach is always careful, reined-in and overly cautious, we have too few documents of how he played other composers to gain a full understanding of his art. He helped prepare listeners for then unfamiliar compositions by Bach through an honest and earnest approach. His interpretations of Brahms were also admired and in 1925 he gave the first performance of Herbert Howell’s piano concerto.

To make a living Harold Samuel taught, did vocal coaching and became a sought-after accompanist (i.e. violinist Isolde Menges). His solo career, however, was at a standstill until 1919 when he played an all Bach programme in London. He soon found a ready audience for large amounts of Bach's keyboard works in their original form. In 1921 he gave six successive Bach recitals in London and a similar cycle in New York. He toured the USA regularly from 1924. He worote a musicalk comedy, Hon'ble Phil, songs and piano pieces.

Source: International Who's Who in Music & International Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93); Arbiter Records Website ( © Allan Evans, 1996); Liner notes to the album 'Grand Piano - Bach' (Nimbus Records (© 1996 David Dubal); NPG Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2006)

Harold Samuel: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Harold Samuel (Arbiter Records)
Nimbus Records, Grand Piano, NI 8808, Bach - Booklet Note

Harold Samuel (1879-1937), Pianist (NPG)

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