In 2016, Menahem Pressler gave a performance at the Toulouse, France, ceremony for the annual French classical music awards.
Who Was Menahem Pressler?
Menahem Pressler, an American pianist of German descent who co-founded the Beaux Arts Trio in 1955 and played with the renowned group until its dissolution more than 50 years later, passed away on May 6 in London. He was 99 years old and had recently kept up his concerto and solo recital schedule.
Violinist Daniel Guilet, who served as the concertmaster of Arturo Toscanini’s NBC Symphony from 1951 to 1954, invited musicians to establish the Beaux Arts Trio. Mr. Pressler had become acquainted with Bernard Greenhouse, a renowned cellist and one of Pablo Casals’s few long-term students, who suggested adding him to complete the quartet.
It was a wise choice, since the Beaux Arts Trio went on to perform more than 4,000 concerts worldwide and record almost the entire canon of trio repertoire.
Working together was not always simple. According to Mr. Pressler, Guilet was a bad taskmaster. He stated this to the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2008. “The rehearsal was filled with insults every single word. I didn’t experience it as strongly as Greenhouse. He responded angrily. But throughout the performance, we were grateful for and pleased with the chemistry and the inspiration.
The ensemble made its American debut there in 1955, said goodbye there in August 2008, and then performed its final concert in Lucerne the following month. The Beaux Arts Trio now consisted of three cellists and five distinct violinists.
About Menahem Pressler
The one constant was Mr. Pressler, and he was aware of his value. In a trio, the pianist is first among equals, he once told the New York Times. The scores are written with him as the trio’s beating heart.
On December 16, 1923, Menahem Pressler was born in Magdeburg, Germany, to clothes business owners. Following the destruction of Jewish homes, businesses, and places of worship during the state-sponsored, anti-Semitic Kristallnacht atrocities in November 1938, they left Germany.
In the British Mandate for Palestine, the 14-year-old Mr. Pressler, his parents, and his siblings came. With their son concentrating on his already great passion in music, his father in Tel Aviv started a grocery store in addition to a clothing store. His extended family’s European survivors perished in detention camps in great numbers.