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Wanda Landowska

LANDOWSKA, WANDA (1879–1959), harpsichordist, pianist, and composer. Born in Warsaw, Landowska bean to play the piano at the age of four. She studied at the Warsaw Conservatory with Michaełowski and in Berlin (1896) with Moszkowski (piano and composition). In Paris (1900) she married Henry Lew, a writer on Hebrew folk music. Landowska was one of the first to revive harpsichord music and won renown in that field. Giving numerous concerts and lectures she reawakened interest in music of the Baroque period. She toured all over Europe including Russia. In 1912, the piano maker Pleyel built her a special harpsichord. In 1913 she went to Berlin to teach harpsichord at the Musik-Hochschule. After World War I, Landowska taught in Basel and played a harpsichord continuo in the St. Matthew Passion – for the first time in the 20th century. In Paris, she taught at the Ecole Normale de Musique. Landowska founded her own Ecole de Musique Ancienne at Saint-Leu-la-Flôret, near Paris, for the study, teaching, and performance of early music. There, in 1933, she gave the first integral performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations. With the advent of Hitler, she was forced to leave the school. She fled to France and settled in the U.S. in 1941. At the age of 70 she recorded the complete Bach "48." Her performance style was an assertive one, highlighted by legato playing and variety of articulation. She developed modern harpsichord technique and played compositions written for her by several modern composers, such as Falla and Poulenc. Landowska was decorated by both the French and Polish governments.


Her books include Bach et ses interprèts (1906) and La musique ancienne (1909). Denise Restout edited a collection of her articles as Landowska on Music (1965). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grove online; MGG; D. Marty, Une dame nommée Wanda (1993).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.