Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder Pursues Many Interests

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder does not spend his valuable time practicing for hours on end; he fills his days with projects that illuminate him. One of the world’s most prolific recording artists, he boasts a discography of more than 100 albums encompassing the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas, the complete Beethoven and Mozart’s concertos, all of Haydn’s compositions for piano, both Brahms concertos and numerous other major works. No wonder he is called the “Viennese oracle.”
To close his U. S. tour with the Dresden Staatskapelle conducted by Daniel Harding, he chose Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor for the Kennedy Center. He enthuses over the concerto, one of the great ones in the repertoire, pointing out that Schumann, like Beethoven and other composers of his period, is romantic and sensitive with feeling and soul in his music. He snubs the idea of classification done by people who came along later and wanted to put everybody into a neat package.
Laughing, he said, “These poor guys didn’t know they were supposed to be organized and classified as classical, romantic, modern, or what-have-you.”
The Dresden Staatskapelle, one of the world’s oldest orchestras, has been led by many outstanding chief conductors since its founding in 1548, including Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner. As the orchestra of the Saxon State Opera, it is based in the opera house. This season, in his role as the orchestra’s Artist in Residence, Buchbinder will participate in two subscription series in Dresden and over a period of seven days will perform all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas.
What might be a daunting task to others is sheer joy to the man who welcomes every opportunity to express himself live. He recorded all five Beethoven concertos live in two concerts on a single day and recorded the newly released Brahms piano concertos live with the Israel Philharmonic in Tel Aviv, Zubin Mehta conducting. He never goes into a studio if he can avoid it because he seeks the emotion that eludes him there. He enjoys recording live so much he doesn’t mind people coughing, especially if they cough when he plays wrong notes.
Buchbinder is not only one of the world’s greatest pianists, he is also a serious collector of autographed scores, first editions and original documents which he seeks out worldwide. He is equally interested in painting and modern art and often sketches for his own amusement, as evidenced by his intriguing signature in the form of a figure at the piano. Just for fun, he is an avid collector of great books and movies. Ask him about Abbott and Costello, Alfred Hitchcock, Danny Kaye or Frank Sinatra and you quickly learn that all are represented in his collection of more than 4,000 movies. He even relishes bad movies.
“One day is not long enough for me,” he said. “Instead of using the piano as one would go to the office, I use my head, not my fingers, and become involved in many interests.”

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