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January 31, 1963

Helen and Karl Ulrich Schnabel gave a four-hand one-piano recital in Skinner Hall. An anonymous review in The Miscellany News, began with an admission. “It is very difficult to write a review in praise of perfection; one runs out of superlatives….” The recital, the reviewer said “came closer to perfection than any recital we have heard this year. The duo created a rare balance of teture and mood which remained unbroken throughout the program. They achieved a sheer transparency of sound, at once the most important and the most difficult requisite of four-hand piano music. It is incredibly difficult for two people to play a piece on one piano and be exactly together in timing, phrasing and expression, yet the Schnabels were beautifully together and made of every note a work of art.”

The Schnabels’ recital—“longer than the printed program”—began with Mozart’s Andante and Five Variations for Piano duet, K.501, and Three Legends, in which “Dvorak’s characteristic use of American folk melodies was evident. American themes on a quite different level were used in a Little Suite (1960)” by Swedish composer Laci Boldemann. “This piece was a surprise in that it had a real jazz beat and swinging syncopations.” The program concluded with Mendelssohn’s Allegro Brilliante, op 92, “a work of scintillating viruosity, and one which makes fantastic demands on the performers. Mr. and Mrs. Schnabel met these demands in a stunning and vital performance. But the audience would not let the performers go until they played two encores, by Brahms and Weber.”

Karl Ulrich conducted a master class the following day for students of duet piano technique, at which he observed, “In four-hand playing…listening is at least as important as playing the notes.” Although they each had distinguished careers as soloists, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of legendary pianist Artur Schnabel, often joined his wife, Helen, in one- and two-piano, four-hand concerts.

The Years