First Published: 30 Jan 2010
ISBN: 9781580463355
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Ferruccio Busoni is most widely known today as the composer of the most monumental piano concerto in the repertory (some eighty minutes long, with male chorus in the finale). But Busoni was also renowned in his day as an author and pedagogue and, most especially, as a pianist. Busoni's recordings of pieces by Chopin and Liszt -- and of his own arrangements of keyboard works by Bach and Beethoven -- are much prized and studied today by connoisseurs of piano playing. Yet even his most important biographers have cast only a cursory glance at the pianistic aspect of Busoni's fascinating career.


Grigory Kogan's book Busoni as Pianist (published in Russian in 1964, and here translated for the first time) was and remains the first and only study to concentrate exclusively on Busoni's contributions to the world of the piano.Busoni as Pianist summarizes reviews of Busoni's playing and his own writings on the subject. It also closely analyzes the surviving piano roles and recordings, and examines Busoni's editions, arrangements, and pedagogical output. As such, it will be of interest to pianists, teachers and students of the piano, historians, and all who love piano music and the art of piano playing. 

Grigory Kogan (1901-1979) was a leading Soviet pianist and music critic. A conservatory professor at the age of twenty-one, Kogan created the first-ever course in Russia dealing with the history and theory of pianism. Through his brilliant lectures, his concert performances, and his many books, articles, and reviews, Kogan influenced an entire generation of Soviet pianists. 

  • Read the story of how the book came about on the publisher's blog.

"This book is a gem. It brings to life, through countless quotes, anecdotes and actual musical examples, the work of the legendary pianist. . . Details Busoni's approach to technique, tone color, interpretation, transcription and composition. . . Kogan and Belsky's book offers ideas on groupings, technical variants and redistributions [of notes between the two hands] that are still useful today. . . The body of the book is a quick read, but don't overlook the Preface and copious footnotes. . . The implicit questions about the relationship of society to art are still highly pertinent. . . Kudos to [Belsky] not only for bringing Kogan's extraordinary book to our attention, but also for troubling to place its creation into the proper historical context."

            AMERICAN MUSIC TEACHER, October/November 2011 [Catherine Kautsky]

"Offers valuable insight into Busoni's phenomenal technique and idiosyncratic interpretations. A 'must read' for serious pianists, piano pedagogues, scholars of performance practice, Busoni scholars, and anyone interested in the historical development of interpretive styles, schools, and trends."

            MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES, March 2011 [Erinn E. Knyt] 

"Busoni's immense significance in the history of pianism, and the perceptive, illuminating observations of the late Grigory Kogan, make this volume a major addition to the existing literature on this fascinating, enigmatic musical personality. Svetlana Belsky's annotated translation is admirable."

            Donald Manildi, curator, International Piano Archives, University of Maryland

"Illuminating, and brilliantly translated. Kogan's book sheds invaluable light on the life and career of a unique creative genius. Busoni's awe-inspiring artistry and personality are here described in riveting analytical detail. We are indebted to Svetlana
Belsky for making this important work available in English, to the lasting benefit of students, scholars, and performers." 

            Ann Schein, noted concert pianist and educator