Honoring some of classical music's most distinguished creators, The Smith Opera House's “Great Composers Birthday Celebration” concludes on May 7 with pianist Francis Heilbut honoring Johannes Brahms on the 171st anniversary of his birth.
In addition to Brahms's “Andante from Sonata, Opus 5,” Heilbut will perform Beethoven's “Sonata in F-Sharp Major, Opus 78” and “Rondo a Capriccio, Opus 129,” Edward MacDowell's “Woodland Sketches, Opus 51” and Franz Liszt's “Two Legends.”
Paris-born pianist/conductor/composer Francis Heilbut was a pupil of Pierre Monteux and Maria Carreras. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University and from the Mannes College of Music where he studied conducting with Carl Bamberger. Heilbut has toured extensively as piano soloist throughout the United States and Europe, having appeared at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Brahms-Saal in Vienna, Town Hall, Avery Fisher and Carnegie Hall in New York City. A frequent performer on radio and television, notably on “Camera Three” for CBS Television and in “The Beethoven Years” on Channel 13 Public Television, he was the featured pianist in “The Belle of Amherst,” starring Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson. Mr. Heilbut has performed all of the 32 sonatas of Beethoven in public, has made five recordings of solo piano music, and gave the first performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams' “Suite for Pianoforte” in England, America and Europe. Hailed by The New York Times as “exceptional,” an “imaginative pianist,” “engrossing musician,” Heilbut's playing has also been acclaimed in Europe: “Thoughtful and muscianly,” said the London Times; “Most convincing sense of form and style,” noted Vienna's Der Kurier; and “Titanic pianism and poetic lyricism,” wrote Hamburg's Die Welt.
Associate Conductor for the Friends of French Opera, Heilbut was on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera, and also served on the faculty of Westminster Choir College. He has appeared at the Smith Opera House in Geneva as conductor of an anniversary concert performance of Mozart's “The Magic Flute” in 2001 and a revival of Charles W. Cadman's American opera “The Sunset Trail” last summer. Co-founder of the Busoni Foundation, Mr. Heilbut is founding director of American Landmark Festivals and the Richard Tauber Institute of Vocal Art.
The performance begins at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7. Tickets to the recital are $15 general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens. Call 781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 866-355-LIVE (5483) for more information or to purchase tickets. The Smith accepts MasterCard, Visa and Discover.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The Smith and the “Great Composers Birthday Celebration” are generously supported with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by individual contributing members.