The Music Plays On — Claudio Arrau

Donato Cabrera
3 min readApr 6, 2020

I have already mentioned the great Chilean pianist, Claudio Arrau, in my post about Beethoven’s Piano Sonata №30, Op. 109. While Arrau was considered one of the greatest interpreters of Beethoven, he was also considered one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann….his breadth of repertoire was simply astounding!

Claudio Arrau lived a very long life, born in Chillan, Chile in 1903, and passing away in mid-tour in 1991. At the time of his death, he was recording the complete works of Bach, and preparing music by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Reger, Busoni, and Boulez.

In an article celebrating Arrau’s 60th birthday in 1963, the author writes, “it has been estimated that Arrau’s total repertoire would carry him through 76 recital evenings, not counting the 60-odd works with orchestra which he also knows.”

For most of his 88 years, he was in the public eye. At the age of four he gave his first public recital and at the age of six played for the president of Chile, Pedro Montt, who immediately afterwards began planning Arrau’s future education. A special ten-year-long grant was created for Arrau by the Chilean government for Arrau to study in Germany, and at the age of 8, with his mother and older sister accompanying him, he began his studies at the Stern Conservatory, studying with the famous piano pedagogue and student of Franz Liszt, Martin Krause. Here is Chopin’s Waltz opus 34 no. 3 from his first acoustic recordings, made in 1921.

Arrau’s first recording to achieve international fame was his 1942 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Donato Cabrera

Music Director of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic