I am currently reading Lipatti by Dragos Tanasescu and Grigore Bargauanu. It is the only English biography based on the life of Romanian pianist and composer Dinu Lipatti and it has long been out of print. I managed to find a used library copy for sale at Amazon.
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) died at the tragically early age of 33 from Hodgkins Lymphoma. That disease was not as treatable in those days as it is now.
Though Lipatti is mainly known among classical pianists for a handful of great records like his recording of Ravel’s Alborado del gracioso and the album of the complete Chopin Waltzes he put together the summer before he passed on. His last concert was also recorded only three months before his death when he was so weak he could barely stand. That recording is also considered a “classic” it is called The Besancon Recital (1950).
He is much less known as a composer but recently the people who manage dinulipatti.com located some radio transcription recordings from the late 1940’s. Now it is possible to hear Lipatti’s compositions such as Concertino in Classical Style, Symphonie concertante, Les Tziagnes and Romanian dances. These recording (though rather rough considering the source) are great to hear because Lipatti himself plays the piano parts on many. They can be found at iTunes and on Youtube.
He truly was one of the last virtuoso pianist/composers. Prokofiev, who died three years later, was probably the very last. His music both as a performer and composer is well worth hearing.
These past three weeks on hiatus, I have also been reading Diaghilev (a life) by Sjeng Scheijen.
Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929) is the historically famous impresario of the Ballets Russes. He was flamboyant and openly gay at a time when this was not generally accepted even in Paris in the 1920’s. Under his commission, the greatest of 20th century composers wrote ballets for him.
Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre,” Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe,” and more than a few ballets by Prokofiev were among those commissions. A grand life led by a bigger than life character.
There is a movie from the 1980 that essayed Diaghilev’s work and relationship with the famous and tragic ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky. The movie is called “Nijinsky,” and stars Alan Bates as Sergei Diaghilev, and George de la Pena as Nijinsky.