Enduring Legacies: A 90th-Birthday Tribute to Gary Graffman (’46)
Pianist Gary Graffman joined the Curtis family at the tender age of seven, when he was accepted as a student. Throughout a celebrated career as soloist, teacher, and administrator, he has left his mark on music through his own performances and those of his students. In celebration of Mr. Graffman’s 90th birthday, alumnus Haochen Zhang (’12) returns to perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, a romantic powerhouse and staple of the Graffman legacy. The program also features Igor Stravinsky’s beloved ballet Petrushka, a house specialty since the days when conductor Leopold Stokowski led the Curtis orchestra; and Brio, a 2018 work exuding vitality and virtuosity by this year’s composer in residence, Augusta Read Thomas. The dynamic Giancarlo Guerrero, a Curtis favorite, returns to conduct.
Gary Graffman’s rich history with Curtis stretches back more than eight decades. He enrolled at age seven, graduating at 17 in 1946. His professional debut the next year kicked off a whirlwind career that sent him touring continuously around the world for over thirty years. In 1979, an injury to his right hand limited his concert activity to the small body of repertoire for left hand alone. Mr. Graffman joined the Curtis piano faculty in 1980, and he kept giving lessons even as he took on the artistic leadership of Curtis for 20 years between 1986 and 2006. He remains a beloved and very active member of the faculty.
Read his profile in Overtones, and explore photos, audio recordings, and commentary from colleagues further illuminating his time at Curtis.