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Edwin Fischer (October 6, 1886 – January 24, 1960) was a Swissmarker classical pianist and conductor. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, particularly in the traditional Germanic repertoire of such composers as J. S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. He is also regarded as one of the finest piano pedagogues of modern times.


Fischer was born in Baselmarker and studied music first there, and later in Berlinmarker at the Stern conservatory under Martin Krause. He first came to prominence as a pianist following World War I. In 1926 he became conductor of the Lübeckmarker Musikverein and later conducted in Munichmarker. In 1932 he formed his own chamber orchestra, and was one of the first to be interested in presenting music of the baroque in an historically accurate way. Though his performances were not particularly historically accurate, he did conduct concertos by the likes of Bach and Mozart from the keyboard, which at the time was most unusual. His interpretations, even of Bach, were romantically conceived, but still compelling.

In 1932 he returned once again to Berlin, succeeding Artur Schnabel in a teaching role at the Berlin Hochschule für Musikmarker. In 1942 he moved back to Switzerland, temporarily putting his career on hold through World War II. Following the war, he began to perform again, as well as giving masterclasses in Lucernemarker, which were attended by a number of later prominent pianists, Alfred Brendel, Helena Sá e Costa, Paul Badura-Skoda and Daniel Barenboim among them.
Edwin Fischer
As well as solo recitals, concerto performances, and conducting orchestral works, Fischer also played chamber music. Particularly highly regarded was the piano trio he formed with the cellist Enrico Mainardi and the violinist Georg Kulenkampff (who was replaced by Wolfgang Schneiderhan after his death).

Fischer published a number of books on teaching as well as one on the piano sonatas of Beethoven. He also made a number of recordings, including the first complete recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier for EMI in the 1930s.

Fischer's complete Well-Tempered Clavier, recorded between 1933 and 1936, is one of the landmarks of the Bach discography, considered the earliest complete performance on record. Fischer's recording is admired in part because he does not use the resources of the modern instrument artificially to embellish the score. His recording of the Bach "48" remains the yardstick against which all pianists measure themselves.

His last musical collaboration was with the violinist Gioconda de Vito. During their recording sessions for the Brahms violin sonatas Nos. 1 and 3, he had to go to London for medical treatment; there, he was told that he was seriously ill. He died shortly afterwards.


  • Fischer, Edwin, Musikalische Betrachtungen, 1949 (Reflections on Music)
  • Fischer, Edwin, Ludwig van Beethovens Klaviersonaten: Ein Begleiter für Studierende und Liebhaber, 1954 (Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Guide for Students and Amateurs, 1959)
  • Fischer, Edwin, Johann Sebastian Bach: Eine Studie
  • Gavoty, Bernard, Edwin Fischer (in French)


  1. In Vito Veritas

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