"I wanted to come face to face with a master: I recognised him as such." (Hélène Grimaud)
The legendary Cuban American pianist Jorge Bolet
Click here to1914-1990 "I wanted to come face to face with a master: I recognised him as such." (Hélène Grimaud)
Born in Havana in 1914, Jorge Bolet studied at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia from the age of 12, then had a long career that only really brought him wide and lasting international fame from the early 1970s. He specialised in the great Romantic composers, above all Liszt, but he also adored the rare and hidden gems of the repertoire - and the more outrageous the technical demands, so much the better. Yet he was never one to show off merely for its own sake; he was, above all, a great musician. (Douglas Cairns)
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Though a native Spanish speaker, Jorge Bolet used an English pronunciation of his name: George Bo-LET (with stress falling on the final syllable & the T pronounced).
Anambassador from the age of nocturnes and nightingales.
(Burt A. Folkart, Los Angeles Times, October 1990)
Jorge may not have been the greatest pianist, but he was always my favourite pianist.
(William Livingstone, critic)
Apart from your today unrivalled virtuosity, there is the rarest of poetic elegance in the true Romantic style... It lives again in your unique combination of demonic daring, elfin delicacy and soaring lyricism.
(Abram Chasins, 5 February 1971)
"His Rudolph Valentino physique heralded an intensely seductive relationship with the world, with a touch of chic like the fruit atop the frosty triangles of glasses holding exotic cocktails: blue lagoons and green ti' punches... I wanted to come face to face with a master: I recognised him as such."
(Hélène Grimaud, pianist)
“An enigma shrouded in a mystery and wrapped in velvet is Jorge Bolet.”
Big in Japan. A selection of just Liszt CDs on my visit to the staggeringly huge Shibuya branch of Tower Records, Tokyo, April 2013.
My favourite photograph: the LP is from 1978 and was his first for DECCA/London on their L'oiseau-lyre label.