Malcolm Frager: American Pianist

Malcolm Frager: American Pianist

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 10:00pm - 10:30pm

Pictured: Malcolm Frager

The life, career, and legacy of this award-winning musician. The Malcolm Frager Collection, an extensive documentation of his career, resides at Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music.

Malcolm Frager: American Pianist airs Friday, February 3 at 10:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Malcolm Frager was born in St. Louis, Missouri and studied with Carl Friedberg in New York City from 1949 until Friedberg’s death in 1955. In 1957 he graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with a major in Russian. He won the Piano Competition in Geneva (1955), the Michaels Memorial Award in Chicago (1956), the Leventritt Competition in New York (1959), and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels (1960). In 1978, Frager visited the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków, Poland where he persuaded librarians to make available a cache of more than one thousand original manuscripts missing (and believed lost) since World War II. The collection included pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart. In 1987, Frager received the Golden Mozart Pin from the International Mozart Foundation in Salzburg.

Mr. Frager’s pianism was known more for stringent honesty than for any attempt at ingratiation. James R. Oestreich, writing in The New York Times about a 1990 recital at the 92d Street Y, called attention to Mr. Frager’s “bright lights and brittleness” and his use of “formidable intelligence to make connections.” The pianist consciously stayed away from a large body of contemporary music and recorded less frequently than others, and was known mainly for his deep interest in Beethoven and Mozart and as a champion of the two Weber Piano Concertos. Mr. Frager was also a student of old musical manuscripts and forager for them. Schumann and Tchaikovsky were two of his targets, and he was also instrumental in the retrieval of a huge body of Mozart and Beethoven manuscripts that were removed from Germany during World War II and stored in Cracow, Poland. (New York Times)