German piano teacher, composer, writer and lecturer Peter Feuchtwanger was born in Munich on 26 June 1930, the son of a bank director. His early years were spent in British Mandate Palestine, where he emigrated from his native Munich as a baby with his family to escape persecution in Nazi Europe; he later settled in London.
He studied piano with Gerti Rainer (a pupil of Emil von Sauer), Max Egger, Edwin Fischer and Walter Gieseking, composition with Hans Heimler (a pupil of Alban Berg, Heinrich Schenker and Felix Weingartner) and Lennox Berkeley, and Indian and Arabic music and philosophy with, amongst others, Nazir Jairazbhoy and Arnold Bake. Feuchtwanger gave up an early successful career as a pianist in order to devote himself to composing and teaching.
His greatest musical influence came through his encounter with Romanian pianist Clara Haskil, about whom he lectured and published articles. His Variations on an Eastern Folk Tune (Books 1 and 2) won first prize at the 1959 International Viotti Composition Competition.
In 1966, Yehudi Menuhin commissioned Feuchtwanger to write a work for violin, sitar, tabla and tamboura which Menuhin and Ravi Shankar performed at the Bath Festival that year. This led to their successful recording East meets West. Three of Feuchtwanger's Studies in Eastern Idiom for piano were published by Augener's, Galliard and Galaxy. These and a significant number of other works (Introduction and Ragas for 8 Violas and cello or double bass, songs for mezzo and chamber ensemble, a work for violin and tape, and piano pieces), have received broadcast performance on BBC Radio 3, German, Swiss and Japanese radio and Swedish television.
Feuchtwanger often appeared in radio and television interviews and features, and he contributed regularly to various newspapers and periodicals: he wrote articles for, amongst others, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He was a frequent adjudicator at international piano competitions and was Vice President of EPTA UK and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. He held professorships at conservatories in Karlsruhe and Basel, and was visiting professor at the Yehudi Menuhin School in the UK. As well as teaching in London he gave masterclasses internationally, including at Dartington, the Salzburg Mozarteum, Israel and at his own piano festival in Feuchtwangen, the town in Bavaria where his ancestors lived before they left in the sixteenth century.
Peter Feuchtwanger died in London (where he had lived and taught for several decades) on 18 June 2016, aged eighty-five.
A selection of M&V articles about Peter Feuchtwanger
Ensemble. Tuning in Afresh - Bill Newman listens to Bulgarian pianist Vesselin Stanev
Ensemble. Bravura Performance - A piano recital by Anthony Hughes, heard by Mary Isaac
Ensemble. A Brilliant Idea - A Bernard Stevens celebration at London's Wigmore Hall, reviewed by Bill Newman
Infallible Beauty - Martino Tirimo's Mozart from Cadogan Hall, reviewed by Bill Newman
Ensemble. Intelligent and Cogent - Julian Jacobson attended the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe's Summer Celebrity Festival
Old-time virtuosity stages a comeback - Daniel Grimwood at St Martin-in-the-Fields, reviewed by Malcolm Troup
Ensemble. Piano meets Sitar - Malcolm Miller at a CD launch of Peter Feuchtwanger's exotic piano music