Xaver Scharwenka (January 6, 1850 - December 8, 1924) -- his full name was Franz Xaver Scharwenka -- was a Polish-German musician who was a noted pianist, composer, music educator and organizer. The hyphen between "Polish-German" reflects the fact that Scharwenka was born in Samtner near the city of Poznañ, which was then in the province of Posen in Southern Prussia and has since been restored to Poland. With his family, he moved to Berlin in 1865 where he studied music under Theodor Kullak.
Scharwenka began learning to play the piano by ear when he was 3 and didn't start formal study until he was 15. He began touring as a concert pianist at 24, in 1874, and was praised for the beauty of his tone. He was a renowned interpreter of the music of Chopin.
Scharwenka's own compositions included an opera (Mataswintha), a symphony, 4 piano concertos, chamber music and numerous piano pieces. Scharwenka completed what was to be his most popular work, his Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 38 in 1874 and premiered it the following year. It was originally written as a solo piano fantasy which Scharwenka was unhappy with and so reworked it with orchestra into its final form as a piano concerto. Its premiere recording was in 1968 with Earl Wild and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf. The works of Scharwenka are little played today, though his some of his shorter piano pieces are sometimes heard.
In 1881 Scharwenka founded his own music school in Berlin, and from 1891 to 1898 directed his Scharwenka Music School in New York City. His Methodik des Klavierspiels was published in Leipzig in 1907.
In addition to his activities as a pianist, composer and founder of a music school, he also organized a series of concerts, focusing mainly on works by prominent composers of the century, Beethoven, Berlioz and Liszt, among others.
His older brother (Ludwig) Philipp Scharwenka (1847?1917) was also a composer and teacher of music.
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