Artur Schnabel was an Austrian pianist and composer, who is known as one of the great interpretive musicians on the 20th century.  Where others may have outshined him in pure technical ability, Schnabels workings of the German repertoire are in some senses still unmatched in their spiritual depth.

 

Born in modern day Poland, Schnabel began studying the piano by the age of four when his family resettled in Vienna.  By the age of fifteen, he had also studied composition, and made his debut piano performance.  His reputation was growing and he soon became acquainted with Johannes Brahms. 

 

After moving to Berlin in 1898, Schnabel spent the early twentieth century as a renowned performing pianist throughout Europe and the United States.  He was identified by his wide repertoire, but he focused on the works of the great German composers Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, and Beethoven.  In fact, he was the first to record the complete cycle of Beethoven's piano sonatas in 1935.  They have not been out of print since their original release.  Concurrently, he was composing his own works (mostly of the atonal variety).

 

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Schnabel fled to England and then to the U.S. where he taught master classes until the end of the war.   He would continue giving performances on both sides of the Atlantic for the remainder of his life.