Schubert Club Performance: December 3, 1951

From the Schubert Club Archive:

The son of a tailor in London’s East End, Solomon Cutner was seven when he began his studies with a pupil of the legendary Clara Schumann. A year later the child prodigy made his debut as Solomon (he never used his surname professionally), playing Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto at the Queen’s Hall, London’s most prestigious concert venue. He went on to become one of the most admired keyboard artists of the 20th century – after a 1955 recital Harold Schonberg of the New York Times called Solomon ‘that most civilized of pianists”. He made his US debut in 1926, appeared at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and regularly after the war, and eventually achieved cult status, not least through his superb recordings.


Combining immaculate, unforced virtuosity with extreme tonal refinement, Solomon was aptly described as “a classic pianist who had no need to woo audiences with applied beauty or grandiosity because his playing already contained these qualities by its extreme shapeliness and sensibility”. He was a peerless interpreter of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms and, above all, Beethoven: he performed all the sonatas and concertos and had recorded most of them for EMI before a devastating stroke in 1956 ended his career suddenly and prematurely. Here he can be seen as well as heard in a filmed performance of the “Appassionata” (separate link for each movement):


Solomon made one of his most beautiful recordings, the Brahms F minor Sonata, around the time he performed that work for the Schubert Club. Here’s the second movement, a daringly slow, dreamlike performance. Concentration and recreative genius on this order can take us to another world. Lucky the St. Paul audience that got to experience it live:


This survey of Solomon’s recordings offers a good sampling of his artistry and virtuosity:

Artist note by Richard Evidon


Cover of the program for Solomon’s 1951 concert

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Portrait of Solomon

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Review of Solomon’s 1951 performance in the St. Paul Pioneer Press

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Artist Archive