My very first concert tour after nine years of recovery from an attack of polio in 1955. The tour offer came unexpectedly, and I told no one connected with the tour about my polio experience. The tour reviews surpassed my wildest dreams.
“If we’re any judge at all, a new star has appeared in the pianistic heaven.”
“From the very first note it was evident that this strikingly beautiful young woman is a personality. . . . breathtaking . . . stupefying”
“The perfect musical projection of Beethoven’s last sonata (Opus 111) was a masterly achievement of intellectual power. The contrast between the drama and passion of the first movement, and the lyrical radiance of the second was accomplished with transcendent emotional intensity.”
When I was offered further tours in the US and Europe, I felt compelled to warn the tour managers, Sherman Pitluck and Mark Bichurin, about my post-polio status. But they were undeterred, and even persuaded me to let them share my story with others.
“Her technique is capable of the ultimate in refinement. Her movements, both graceful and disciplined, were at one with the musical substance. One found oneself astounded by the tonal delicacy and spiritual understanding which formed the basis of all her interpretations. For the pianist it was a beautiful success; for the audience a joy to hear.”
“A beautiful touch, full of variety and nuance … also, a well-developed temperament, superior technical equipment, and a remarkable display of physical strength … a pianist of quality.”
“The Grieg (Piano Concerto) served admirably to introduce the beauty, grace, and talent of Miss Rosenberger, a truly gifted artist. She revealed style and sensitivity, not to mention the complete technical equipment… A highly expressive performance.”
Continuing to tour in the US and Europe, I also was invited to join the music faculty at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. Since I had taught private students for many years, beginning at age 13, I was delighted to join this interesting and open-minded faculty. I was also able to pass along techniques I’d learned during my recovery from polio — techniques which were also helpful to students with “normal” piano-playing equipment. During this period, I particularly enjoyed playing the Beethoven Concerto No. 3 on tour with the Royal Philharmonic in the US.
“Her playing is filled with the insights and sensitivity of a superior artist.”
“I came away more satisfied with Carol Rosenberger’s playing (comparing adjacent performances by Carol Rosenberger and Wilhem Kempff). She played with much greater exactitude than the veteran German, her ornaments were more tasteful, and she integrated her playing more successfully with the orchestra.” (Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3).
“Enthralling … artistry so effective that it creates a bond with the listener that lasts far beyond the final chord.”
After taking some time out (in 1969) for more post-polio physical therapy, I plunged back into touring, and made important appearances in New York, Paris, and London. The concert in Paris was especially poignant for me. The revered Nadia Boulanger, “Mademoiselle,” came to the concert and we had an emotional reunion afterwards. She was very moved to hear me play fifteen years after I had been knocked down by polio. I had been studying with her 15 years earlier, in 1955, right before the polio struck, and she had done everything possible to help me at that time. 1970 also saw a first performance with Neville Marriner, who at that time was Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
“She rose formidably to the challenge of the first movement’s compressed dynamism (Beethoven’s Opus 111) and the radiant serenity of the variations. Her playing was alive to every fleeting impression yet was intellectually commanding in forming large tight paragraphs. … Her breadth of scope became fully evident in the second half (Szymanowsi and Scriabin) … These were ideal performances, combining technical virtuosity with thoughtfulness.”
“Miss Rosenberger not only has command but also a perfectly beautiful sound at the piano… . She gave an extraordinarily powerful and remarkable, rather unorthodox view of the piece (Beethoven Sonata Opus 111). She established herself as a thoughtful, really important pianist.”
“Under Miss Rosenberger’s fingers it (Scriabin Sonata No. 5) became a fascinating experience as all the perfumed decadence and thunder emerged with graphic vividness… . sheer physical power and theatrical impulse.”
“Carol Rosenberger played the graceful, grateful solo with tremendous fluidity, poise, and clarity.” (Mendelssohn Concerto in ‘a Minor for Piano and Strings).
A high point in the 1971-72 season was my first-ever appearance in New York’s Carnegie Hall — a mecca for classical musicians. I returned to London to play at Wigmore Hall, and also performed for the first time in Boston’s beautiful Jordan Hall. Other standout appearances were with the Houston Symphony, and a “sentimental return” to my native Detroit to play with the Detroit Symphony. Music Journal and McCalls published articles about how I had found my way back from polio.
“She captured the creative essence of Stravinsky’s 1922 Sonata, sustaining its swiftly stirring spirit with her rich musical intelligence … In Boulez’s First Sonata, she almost persuaded one that this formidable structure harbors, after all, a certain grace.”
“Her control of phrasing and technique results in an effortless flow of sound and emotion that becomes almost lulling. Her sense of taste obviously rules out grandstanding. The Preludes (Chopin Opus 28) were not just a stunt in Miss Rosenberger’s hands. Even the most overworked ones came alive and were enhanced in context.”
“in every technical respect she proved herself to be a master, including excellent pedal technique and sheer power. Her performances have an unforced quality that has nothing to do with strength. Rather her playing draws on an inner calm. Her contrapuntal articulation was admirable in not forsaking legato. (Stravinsky Sonata) … One of the richest aspects of her performance was the subtle range of contrast she drew between the agitated and more stately Preludes. It makes good sense to perform Chopin’s 24 Preludes as a group, and Miss Rosenberger did so without suppressing the character.
“Rosenberger has an unmistakable style⎯a coating of velvet⎯and can conjure up strength not usually associated with women pianists. The high point of her concert was Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit conquered through delicacy and sheen… . An important, sensitive, exquisite pianist.”
In 1973, I began recording for the fledgling Delos label, (DE 1635, Szymanowski Masques and Etudes).
Delos was the brainchild of the remarkable Amelia Haygood, then a practicing psychologist, who was also a lifelong classical music devotee. Amelia’s mission in forming Delos was to give American artists an international platform. (Everyone in the classical music business told her she was crazy to try such a thing.) Also in 1973, I joined the music faculty at California State University, Northridge. Other highlights of that period were playing the Chopin Piano Concerto #1 with American conductor James DePreist and the National Symphony Orchestra, and playing on the Eastman Great Performers Series.
Around that same time, MS Magazine published an article about me, and in 1974, when I played at Lincoln Center in Tully Hall, the MS staff, headed by Gloria Steinem, sent me a delightful note ahead of time. They all came to the concert, placing themselves in the front rows so that I couldn’t miss seeing them and feeling their support. A wonderful moment!
“Rosenberger was one of the first pianists to bring the music of Szymanowski to record… a composer who deserves more attention”
“She proved herself to be a soloist of nuance and individuality.” (Mozart Concerto in G Major, K. 453).
“Ravishing, elegant pianism.”
“Carol Rosenberger brought marvelous fluidity to the bitter-sweet languor of the inner movements. She met the high velocity challenge of the outer movements deftly, too.” (Shostakovich Concerto No. 1).
In 1976, I participated in another Delos recording, a Hindemith album featuring The Four Temperaments, with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor James DePreist. That same year, I also recorded more solo music of Szymanowski — his fascinating set of 22 Mazurkas. Also in 1976, I was asked to represent America’s women concert artists by the President’s National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year.
UCLA invited me to do an interesting “residency,” which included a workshop with their music students and two solo concert evenings (one all-Beethoven, and the other all-Polish, featuring Chopin and Szymanowski).
In 1977, I received an offer to join the University of Southern California Artist faculty. In addition to working with young pianists, I conducted a Preparation for Performance workshop each semester. In these workshop/classes, which were called “Psycho-Physical Aspects in Performance,” I shared with music students the techniques I’d learned over many years of polio recovery and private teaching. This involved a wide range of young performers, both instrumentalists and vocalists.
When Stereo Review published a survey by Music Editor, James Goodfriend, entitled “All the Young Pianists,” I was surprised to be the only American woman included in the survey. On my birthday, November 1, 1977, I played in Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. Another memorable concert for me was my first at USC’s Bing Theater in 1978.
“A pianist with great intelligence, maturity, superior technique and a commanding musical personality. Her playing is full of striking ideas, the sort that make you sit up and listen to the music… . One doesn’t hear such thoughtful playing very often. It was a compelling performance in every way.”
1979 • Water Music of the Impressionists (DE 3006)
Critic’s Choice, Gramophone
All Time Great Recording, Billboard
Best Classical Compact Disc, Stereo Review
“defines the state of the art in piano recordings.”
“Rosenberger provides the cascading musical flow that effectively brings the music flooding into your listening area.”
“For many listeners, Water Music defines the state of the art in piano recordings. And aside from being a notable musical success, the recording has introduced many listeners to the sensitive and idiomatic piano playing of Carol Rosenberger. She plays this music with insight, affection, and idiomatic technique. Technical difficulties don’t seem to exist for her. While this recording might attract attention because of the piano Rosenberger used, or because of the demonstration-quality of the sound, it’s the musical worth of this program and the marvelous performances that provide lasting value.”
“Water Music of the Impressionists (DE 3006): “It’s hard to decide which to commend first, the supple beauty of Ms. Rosenberger’s performance or the stunning piano sound with its tremendous dynamic range.”
“Rosenberger’s Delos digital recording⎯Water Music of the Impressionists⎯an absolute must-have disc, is the best piano recording I’ve ever heard. Her playing is notable for her sense of what is different in each work, her ability to blend intricate subtlety with sweeping power and grandeur, to build and hold tensions within a work, and like Martha Argerich and precious few others, her ability to do it all without resorting to pounding the piano for that extra bit of emphasis … a psycho-acoustic effect was caused by the stunning excellence of the Delos recording, and by Rosenberger’s musicianship and sensitive use of the full capabilities of a superb Boesendorfer Imperial.
“Witty, brilliant playing … Schwarz opens up the Piano Concerto and gives its quick-moving lines plenty of room to run. Rosenberger takes advantage of all that space and offers a handsomely contrasting, expansive, lyrical performance.”
“Simply hair-curling. Carol Rosenberger’s fingerwork is surpassingly brilliant.”
“A world-beating performance of Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto The soloist is Carol Rosenberger, whose playing here is a combination of feathery lightness and percussive brilliance, lively with and somber contemplativeness.”
“Rosenberger brings to the concerto a shade of the thoughtfulness that is so effective in her Beethoven, but she also has all the panache required for the runaway last movement.”
“A really insightful performance.”
1981 • Beethoven Sonatas Op. 111, Op. 57
In late 1982, I got together with the great clarinetist David Shifrin and other principals of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to make a recording with boy soprano Bejun Mehta, who was the son of a longtime friend of mine. I couldn’t imagine a more authentic version of Schubert’s “Shepherd on the Rock”!
“A splendid, large-scale recording. Carol Rosenberger is a formidable talent, and her performance of these Beethoven piano sonatas is powerful and intense.
The rich palette of the instrument is well used by the artist but more to the point is her delineation of the structure of these works The Opus 111, in particular, needs the kind of formal probing for which Ms. Rosenberger has become notes… . the artist’s own detailed annotations … show her to be a scholar as well as a performer of substance.”
In 1983, I played a solo concert at New York’s 92nd St. Y. At the end of the program I had Bejun come out onstage to do a couple of “encores” with me. My goal, of course, was to introduce this phenomenal young singer to NYC audiences. It was also great fun!
1984 • Schubert Sonata in B-Flat Op. Posthumous
1984 • Brahms/Schumann Sonatas with David Shifrin
1984 • Beethoven, Mozart Piano-Wind Quintets (with Allan Vogel, oboe; David Shifrin, clarinet; Robin Graham, French Horn; Ken Munday, bassoon)
In 1984, I began my official “Recording Producer” role at Delos, working on what the legendary recording engineer John Eargle called “the other side of the microphone.” John, who had written the “bibles” on sound recording, had joined Delos as the label’s Executive Engineer. The occasion of my Recording Producer debut was a Liszt recording with the great American pianist (and my dear friend), John Browning.
1985 • Beethoven Concerto No. 4 DE 3027 (London Symphony Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
“The concerto gets the best performance of all, largely due to Carol Rosenberger’s playing, as poetic in many passages as it is brilliant in other.” —Gramophone
“Beethoven with Poetry and Power” (headline) “Rosenberger plays Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto in an elegantly rounded way⎯with drama, robustness and even a little impetuousness in the outer movements, but with a captivatingly restrained melancholy in the central andante.” —The New York Times
1986 • Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain DE 3060 (London Symphony Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
“Falla Nights in the Gardens of Spain (DE 3060): “Carol Rosenberger brings to Nights in the Gardens of Spain all the improvisatory, introspective subjectivity the score demands, and she employs true rubato that makes the freer sections sound, as they should, almost as if she is making the music up as she goes along. She also as few pianists do, has the intelligence to let the sustained orchestral sound take over the customary function of her piano’s sustaining pedal, resulting in some transparent sonic filigree evocative of the Moorish silverwork still sold in the places Manuel de Falla had in mind when he wrote this lovely music.” —High Fidelity
1987 • Haydn Piano Concerto No. 2 (Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
1988 • Haydn Piano Concerto No. 5 (Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
1988 • Night Moods
Haydn Concerto No. 2 (DE 3061):
“Foremost is the Concerto No. 2 with Rosenberger. The stillness of the second movement is radiant and poignant. Dissonances are milked for all the bitter-sweetness. Rosenberger, Schwarz and the orchestra really sing throughout the piece, and the pianist’s own cadenzas are beautifully integrated in theme and style. In the finale, wit and ebullience appear in profusion.”
“Carol Rosenberger finds just the right interpretive and sonic ambience for Haydn’s Second Piano Concerto.”
“The Piano Concerto in D, with Ms. Rosenberger’s supple playing, is perhaps the best recording of that work now available, having greater weight, depth, and sensitivity than many of the other versions.”
Night Moods (DE 3030):
“Carol Rosenberger has made a CD splash with rather elegant and high-level “mood” recordings, perhaps the mod equivalent of Chopin’s Paris salon playing.”
“Rosenberger plays lyrically, songfully, and always musically. Put on the disc, dim the lights, and relax with the music. The selection is tasteful, the recorded sound is lovely.”
1989 • Perchance To Dream
1990 • Presenting Jian Wang (with Jian Wang, cello)
1990 • My Keyboard Friends (with Richard Rodney Bennett, piano)
1990 • The Snow Queen (with Natalia Makarova, narrator)
1990 • Prince Ivan and the Frog Princess (with Natalia Makarova, narrator)
1993 • Hanson Variations on a Theme of Youth (New York Chamber Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, conductor)
1994 • Singing On the Water—Barcarolles
1994 • Heigh-Ho Mozart (Beauty and the Beast in the Style of Rachmaninoff; With a Smile and a Song in the Style of Chopin) • (English Chamber Orchestra; Donald Fraser, conductor)
Co-produced DE 3145, Todd Wilson’s “In a Quiet Cathedral,” and wrote an introduction to the program. Amelia and I, who both remembered quiet moments listening to an organist playing in an empty cathedral, had suggested the program to Todd as the organ equivalent of my “Perchance To Dream” calming album for children and adults.
1995 • Bibbidi Bobbidi Bach (A Whole New World in the Style of Chopin; So This is Love in the Style of Debussy) • (English Chamber Orchestra; Donald Fraser, conductor)
1996 • The Best of Peter Pan (I’m Flying; Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Grant Gershon, conductor; Nocturne, Solo)
1996 • A French Romance (Ravel • James DePreist; Monte Carlo Symphony Orchestra)
- 1997 • Such Stuff as Dreams (and Companion Disc)
- 1998 • Mozart Adagios (Constantine Orbelian, conductor; Moscow Chamber Orchestra)
Baby Series began. I had always loved finding the right musical sequence for a program of musical selections, and particularly enjoyed choosing and sequencing the selections for the discs on this series.
2000 • Bridge Chamber Concerto, arr. Orbelian • (Constantine Orbelian, conductor; Moscow Chamber Orchestra)
2001 • Baby Needs Lullabys
Touring with Moscow Chamber Orchestra, in a concert at Town Hall in New York City, and in many performances all over the US — from Alaska to Florida.
Touring in Europe with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.
Helping to produce recordings with artists such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky!
One evening in the summer of 2001, Delos founder Amelia Haygood and I were relaxing with Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Constantine Orbelian in a Moscow restaurant after a recording session for Dmitri’s Verdi Arias album (DE 3292). Dmitri and Constantine began describing some of their favorite popular Russian songs written during WWII and in the war’s aftermath. They had both grown up with these songs, Dmitri in Siberia and Constantine in San Francisco. As they took turns singing phrases to Amelia and me, we all began to recognize a recording plan taking shape: Where Are You, My Brothers? — Songs of the War Years (DE 3315) and, two years later, its sequel, Moscow Nights (DE 3339).…