Endre Petri

Budapest, 29 May 1907 – Budapest, 28 April 1975
The pianist Endre Petri studied with Irén Senn; he gained his teacher's diploma in 1927.
He then joined Ernő Dohnányi's master class and also attended Zoltán Kodály's composition classes. As one of the best students, in the year when he completed his studies (1932), he was invited to play Liszt's Piano Concerto in E-flat major in a public concert conducted by Dohnányi. From 1931 onwards he regularly appeared as a soloist in concerts broadcast on Hungarian Radio, and with the Budapest Trio toured almost every country in Europe.
 
Besides giving regular concerts, Petri began to teach at the Újpest Conservatory and at the MÁV Colony Music School, as well as having private pupils. At the end of the thirties he gave several performances with József Szigeti. He gave, with Benny Goodman and József Szigeti, the first performance of Bartók's Contrasts in the Carnegie Hall in New York on 9 January, 1939.
 
From 1945 he worked as a coach at the Hungarian State Opera House. He would have liked to try his hand at conducting as well; he did not, however, succeed in this ambition. In 1953 he resigned from his post at the Opera. From that time onwards right on to his death he taught chamber music at the Music Academy.
 
He performed in public primarily as a chamber musician. His partners, fellow artists regarded him as a pianist with a strong temperament, excellent sense of rhythm, and steely keyboard action. On his death, one of his permanent chamber music partners, the cellist Ede Banda, wrote of him: "Playing chamber music is one of the hardest tests for a pianist: on the one hand it demonstrates how far the piano can compete with the string or wind instruments, and on the other hand, how far the piano can merge into the sound of instrumental groups possessing a different character. Endre Petri, with his excellent sense of musical colour, was very good at balancing and bridging the different sounds. From the music score he was able to direct and keep together in a sovereign manner even the less experienced ensembles. It is no accident that all over the world there is a shortage of really good piano accompanists: this post requires an instrumentalist with excellent soloist skills, with a large measure of flexibility, and the ability to improvise in reaction to unexpected formulations. Endre Petri had these virtues in good measure. His serious and at the same time playful, ready-to-jump playing lifted him among the ranks of the finest piano accompanists in the world… It was a very good feeling to play music with him…"
 
Endre Petri was awarded the Liszt Prize in 1957. He died at the age of 68.
 
S. K.

 

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