Remembering Pianist William Kapell

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

In the summer of 1947 … [William Kapell] played the Third Rachmaninoff Concerto. No one who heard it will forget that performance. With it Kapell moved into the company of Horowitz and Rachmaninoff himself, who alone had conquered the citadel of that strange concerto, which is cheap unless it is magnificent. He forged the full splendor of the score from his amazing equipment of poetry and fire, of impishness and blazing technique. He conjured its curious fragrance by coaxing from the piano its loveliest songs.

Claudia Cassidy, remembering the pianist William Kapell in the Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1953. Kapell was born a century ago and, during an all too short career, was revered for his virtuosic, lyrical, insightful performances. In this photo, Kapell rehearses with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1947, at the now-defunct Lewisohn Stadium. Kapell died at the age of 31 when the plane he was aboard, en route from Sydney, Australia, crashed upon approach to San Francisco on a densely foggy October morning.

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Our Editors include Sudip Bose, Bruce Falconer, Stephanie Bastek, Jayne Ross, and Ellie Eberlee.


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