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Abbey Simon - Biography

Abbey Simon (b. 8 January 1922, New York) is an American classical pianist.



Simon began lessons with David Saperton at the age of five. At the age of eight, Simon was accepted by Józef Hofmann as a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he trained with fellow classmates Jorge Bolet and Sidney Foster. Simon also took lessons from Leopold Godowsky and Harold Bauer. Shortly after graduation, he debuted at the Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City. He was the winner of the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1940.

Professional career

Simon has been hailed as a supervirtuoso and is recognized as one of the grand masters of the piano. Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer wrote, "Simon's recital offered more than a glimpse into the fabled golden age of piano playing... His virtuosity is marked not only by speed, power, lightness and accuracy but also by intricate interplay of voices and lambent colors." His recordings include the complete piano works of Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Chopin, and most of the works of Brahms and Schumann on the Vox Records label. He has toured in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra.

Simon has given masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and the Geneva Conservatory. He has served on the faculties of Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. His students include pianists Frederic Chiu, Karen Shaw, John Kamitsuka, Erika Nickrenz, Richard Dowling, Roger Wright, Andrew Cooperstock, David Korevaar, and Martha Argerich.

Simon is a long standing jury member of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the Geneva International Piano Competition, the Leeds International Piano Competition, the Sydney International Piano Competition, and the South Africa International Piano Competition.

Simon currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and Houston, Texas where he is currently Distinguished Cullen Professor of Piano at the Moores School of Music.

Abbey Simon is a Yamaha Artist.

Awards and honors

  • Walter Naumburg Prize, (1940)
  • National Orchestral Award
  • Federation of Music Prize
  • Harriet Cohen Medal
  • Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Medal
  • Ford Foundation Award
  • Distinguished Teacher Award at the Moores School of Music


  • Schumann:
    • Variation ABEGG, Kreisleriana, Arabesque, Kindersenen (DANTE PSG 6949)
    • Carnaval, Op. 9 & Fantasy in C, Op. 17 (VOX ACD 8192)
  • Liszt:
    • Six Grandes Etudes de Paganini (VOX VU 9004)
    • Etude in D-flat major (Un Sospiro) (HMV)
  • Brahms:
    • Concerto No. 1 in D-minor (Prize Winning Recording of a live performance, Buenos-Aires, dir. Juan-Jose Castro)
    • Variations on a theme by Paganini, Op. 35 (VOX VU 9004)
    • Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 & Variations on a theme by Paganini (PHILLIPS A 00195 L)
    • Three pieces for piano solo (HMV)
    • F minor Sonata, Op. 5 (HMV)
    • Intermezzi, Capricios, Fantasies and Rhapsodies (PHILLIPS)
  • Ravel:
    • Piano Concerto in G (VOX CDX 5031)
    • Piano Concerto in D for the Left Hand (VOX CDX 5032) (Orchestre de Radio-Luxembourg, Dir. Louis de Froment)
    • Complete Works for Piano Solo (VOX CDX 5012)
  • Chopin:
    • The Four Scherzi (VOX VU 9030)
    • The Four Ballades, Impromptus, and Berceuse (VOX VU 9031)
    • The Sonatas and Barcarolle (VOX VU 9032)
    • Etudes, Op.10 & 25 (VOX VU 9033)
    • The Complete Waltzes, Fantasie & Variations Brillantes (VOX VU 9034)
    • Nocturnes (complete) (VOX CDX 5146)
    • Preludes (VOX)
    • The Piano Concertos (HMV, EMI D 13175Z) (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, dir. Sir Eugene Goosens)
    • The Complete Orchestral Works (VOX 5002) (Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, dir. Heribert Beissel)
  • Grieg:
    • Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 (Phillips)
  • Mendelssohn:
    • 17 Variations Sérieuses (VOX TVS 34460)
  • Rachmaninoff:
    • The Complete Piano Works(VOX CDX 5008)
    • Rachmaninoff Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (To be released) (Japan Philharm. Orchestra, dir. Akeo Watanabe)
    • Saint-Saens : Carnaval des Animaux (EMI Classics DCL 707202) (With Hepzibah Menuhin and the Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Efrem Kurz)
  • Dohnanyi:
    • Variations on a Nursery Song (UNESCO classics DCL707202)
  • Albeniz-Godowsky:
    • Triana from "Iberia" (DANACORD DACOCD 379)
  • César Franck:
    • Prélude, Chorale and Fugue (HMV)
  • Beethoven:
    • Quintet for piano and winds (VOX-Turnabout TVC 37004)
  • Transcriptions:
    • Transcriptions by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Godowsky, Chasins (VOX 8204)

External links

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