A Pianists World in Drawings

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Wilhelm Kempff gave his last public performance in Paris in The pianist, who was known world-wide as a great crowd-drawing attraction, enchanted once more the public with his incomparable art. His wife, countess Hiller von Gaertringen, announced after this concert that her husband was ill and would not perform any more.

He had the Parkinson's disease. Kempff, who since had sought rest and tranquility after his demanding concert tours in his home in Ammerland at the Starnberger Lake near Munich, spent the last five years of his life in his house in the picture-pretty Italian town of Positano in the rocky bay of Salerno and Amalfi. Already in he had founded there a school for especially talented pianists, where he gave free instruction. Five years ago Wilhelm Kempff lost his wife.

A Pianist’s Recordings Draw Praise, but Were They All Hers?

He is survived by five children. His youngest daughter Diana, a writer, still lives in Ammerland. Besides his activity as a pianist, the versatile artist also composed music. He wrote symphonies, operas, piano concertos and chamber music, which, however, have been performed only on rare occasions. Autobiographical writings complement his life work.

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In Wilhelm Kempff died one of the most significant pianists of this century, who put his stamp on whole generations of artists. Up to his last days Kempff showed a lively interest in the current developments in music around the world. Little by little, the Browns started getting noticed.

Yet, as the two eldest, Desirae and Deondra, started looking ahead to college, the pair was unsure as to whether they should attend a musical conservatory. We're not good enough,'" their father recalls.


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Their parents disagreed, and with their encouragement, both girls Deondra graduated early so she could go away with her older sister tried out for six prestigious music institutions around the nation, including Juilliard, with the hopes they'd perhaps get into one. Instead, they got into all six, and chose Juilliard.

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Once they arrived, they became recruiters for Juilliard, enticing their younger siblings to join them; Melody and Gregory still attend, while the youngest, Ryan, went to Juilliard's pre-college program and now is studying at the Manhattan School of Music. Deondra and Desirae earned their master's degrees from the school.

What is 88 Pianists?

It was the first time in Juilliard's history that five siblings were attending at the same time. Despite the attention, the Browns didn't look at their classical education as a springboard for a lucrative career as a classical recording act or as concert performers. However, manager Joel Diamond saw the potential and approached the Browns, suggesting they try to become a classical crossover group, in the vein of a bond, a Josh Groban or a Charlotte Church — all acts who blended pop sensibilities to appeal to a wider demographic.

About the project | 88 Pianists

The Browns were all for appealing to a new audience, but weren't willing to sacrifice their classical background to do it. They didn't have to. Their album doesn't have them trying to put a classical spin on a pop song or collaborating with a pop act. Still, the Browns made some attempts to attract the non-classical crowd. The selection of Bernstein, for example, was a nod to popular choice, and unlike many classical piano albums, there are 11 relatively short tracks — instead of a couple of selections that can sometimes go on for more than 25 minutes.

Besides the music, five pianists performing at the same time certainly draws attention. But what could come off as a jarring gimmick works quite seamlessly.


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They don't play as a unit throughout an entire performance — Deondra and Desirae perform together, while the other siblings shine as soloists. But their combined chemistry is apparent. The younger siblings, still in school, live together in New York, and the older sisters, both married, share a home together, across the street from their parents in Utah. Although the Browns might eventually strike out on their own, for the foreseeable future, they like being a part of a group just fine. The Five Browns play April 16 at 8 p.


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