Géza Anda (19 November 1921 – 14 June 1976) was a Swiss-Hungarian pianist. A celebrated interpreter of classical and romantic repertoire, particularly noted for his performances and recordings of Mozart, he was also a tremendous interpreter of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Bartók. In his heyday he was regarded as an amazing artist, possessed of a beautiful, natural and flawless technique that gave his concerts a unique quality. But since his death in 1976 at the age of fifty-four, his high reputation has faded somewhat from view. Most of his recordings were made on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Anda was born in 1921 in Budapest. He studied with some of the renowned teachers of the 20th century such as Imre Stefaniai and Imre Keeri-Szanto, and became a pupil of Ernst von Dohnányi and Zoltán Kodály at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. In 1940 he won the Liszt Prize, and in the next year, he made an international name for himself with his performance of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2. In 1941, he also made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic under Wilhelm Furtwängler, who dubbed him "troubadour of the piano." In 1943, he settled in Switzerland. He was married to Hortense Bührle, daughter of Emil Georg Bührle (owner Schweiz. Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik and art collector), Zürich.
In the mid-1950s, Anda gave masterclasses at the Salzburg Mozarteum, and in 1960 he took the position of director of the Lucerne masterclasses, succeeding Edwin Fischer. His students included Per Enflo, who later became renowned for his work in mathematical analysis.
As a performer, Anda was particularly noted for his interpretation of Schumann's and Brahms's piano music. The New Grove Dictionary cites his "charismatic readings of Bartók and Schumann". He was regarded as the principal Bartók interpreter of his generation, even if other pianists since his death have made more obviously exciting recordings of that composer's concertos. Although he played very little Mozart in his early career, he became the first pianist to record the full cycle of Mozart's piano concerti; he recorded them between 1961 and 1969, conducting himself from the keyboard.
His performance of the Andante from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C on the soundtrack of the 1967 film Elvira Madigan led to the epithet "Elvira Madigan" often being applied to the concerto.
"From the outset of his career, he was what one might call a philosopher-virtuoso. In his lifelong quest for the perfect balance of head and heart, between intellect and instinct, he explored many facets of music-making." He was honored in 1965 by being named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and he also became an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in 1970.
He died on 14 June 1976 in Zurich, Switzerland. His cause of death was esophageal cancer.
FRANCK Symphonic Variations
Recorded in 1943
Géza Anda, piano
Conducted by Eduard van Beinum
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 1
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 2
BARTÓK Piano Concerto No. 3
Recorded in 1959/60 in stereo
Total duration: 78:46
Geza Anda piano
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Ferenc Fricsay conductor
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3
BEETHOVEN Triple Concerto
MOZART 2 Concert Rondos (K.382, K.386) (download-only)
Recorded in stereo, 1957, 1959 & 1960
Total duration: 89:42 (CD: 72:39)
Géza Anda, piano
Wolfgang Schneiderhan, violin
Pierre Fournier, cello
Ferenc Fricsay, conductor