Vlado Perlemuter

French pianist of Polish origin (Kovno, 1904 – Paris, 2002)

Great specialist of Maurice Ravel's piano repertoire, Vlado Perlemuter is one of the 20th century piano masters alongside Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein.

Vlado Perlemuter was born in Kovno, a Polish city now known as Kaunas (Lithuania), from a rabbi cantor father who was also a great chess player. At a very young age, he emigrated to Paris with his family to escape the anti-Semitic pogroms of imperial Russia. At age 9, he began learning the piano and integrated Paris’ Conservatoire in Alfred Cortot's 1917 class. Two years later, he was awarded the Conservatory's honorary prize and met Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel. Between 1927 and 1929, he worked on all of the latter’s piano pieces and regularly visited him in his Montfort l'Amaury’s house. From these private lessons with Maurice Ravel, he kept the unique understanding of a work he was the first to perform entirely during two recitals in 1929.

After moving to London, he gave several recitals and his career took off in 1938. During the Second World War, he reached the free zone and managed to leave for Switzerland in 1943. At the war’s end, he returned to Paris, where he taught piano at the Conservatoire from 1950 to 1977. The rather late rise of his international career forced him to limit his teaching to a few masterclasses, notably at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

Five landmark dates in the life of Vlado Perlemuter:

1917: Entered the Paris Conservatory, in Alfred Cortot's class.
1929: First pianist to give in recital Maurice Ravek’s complete works for piano.
1950 - 1977: Taught piano at the Paris Conservatory.
1953: Publication of Ravel d’après Ravel, a series of interviews in which he evoked his master’s pianistic work and the teaching he received from him.
1993: Gave his farewell concert at the Victoria Hall in Geneva, the city where he made his stage debut at the age of 15.

Biography from Radio France’s Musical Documentation, May 2014