“In the clanging chords of the opening, he was in brilliant form. A few minutes later, he seemed to be bending close to the piano, listening. Then his left hand fell from the piano, his head almost touched the keys. A second later he rolled off the stool on to the floor. It was a cerebral hemorrhage. Doctors were called to the stage, but Simon Barere was beyond aid; within ten minutes he was dead.”
– Time Magazine, April 1951
“You are a pianistic genius”, said the legendary Sergei Rachmaninoff to Simon Barere.
“Barere is an Anton Rubinstein in one hand and a Liszt in the other” said the famous composer Alexander Glazunov. But if you mention Simon Barere (1896-1951) to most people today, their response is “Simon Who”? Just a small group of passionate piano connoisseurs and historians will tell you that he was a freak virtuoso who stunned his audiences and those of them and others who bought his few and now very rare recordings. They placed him alongside icons of piano history such as Josef Hofmann, Ignaz Friedman, Vladimir Horowitz and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Barere was born in Odessa, Russia, as the eleventh of thirteen children. He studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory under Annette Essipova, a leading teacher of the time. After her death, he studied with Felix Blumenfeld, whose other pupils included Heinrich Neuhaus and Vladimir Horowitz.
After graduation, Barere began playing many concerts in many places, at the same time teaching at the Kiev Conservatory. He emigrated to Berlin (1932), then to Sweden (1933-40), and finally to the United States. Barere was especially known for his legendary speed and finger dexterity. According to noted music critic Harold C. Schonberg, Barere was more than a scorching virtuoso: he produced a colourful piano tone and could also be highly musical.
Barere plays two Chopin Etudes
Opus 10 No. 4 in C-sharp minor:
Opus 10 No. 8 in F major: