Austrian pianist, clavichord and baritone sax player Friedrich Gulda was born in Vienna on 16 May 1930 and at age seven began lessons with Felix Pazofsky, going on to study piano and theory at the Vienna Music Academy with Bruno Seidhofer and Joseph Marx. He won first prinze in the 1946 Geneva International Music Competition and began to play internationally. He became known, with Jorg Demus and Paul Badura-Skofa, as the 'Viennese troika'.
Gulda became interested in writing and playing jazz, sometimes combining jazz with classical works in his concerts, and commenting that he didn't want to 'fall into the routine of the modern concert pianist's life' nor 'ride the cheap triumphs of the Baroque bandwagon'. He established a school for students wanting to learn to improvise, and began playing the baritone sax. He refused to follow the normal clothing conventions or announce concert programmes in advance, and was dubbed the 'terrorist pianist'.
Gulda's piano students included Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado.
His life came to an end at his home in Weissenbach on 27 January 2000, aged sixty-nine, achieving his ambition of dying on the birthday of his favourite composer, Mozart.
A selection of M&V articles about Friedrich Gulda
CD Spotlight. Much Playfulness - Beethoven cello sonatas and variations, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Fournier and Gulda give Handel a rousing send-off ...'
CD Spotlight. Instinctive Artistry - Jill Crossland plays Mozart and Beethoven, heard by Howard Smith. '... a distinctive, beautifully considered performance.'
Music for Musicians Only? - The public turns a deaf ear to improvised music. As for classical music, Jan Dahlstedt claims that having abandoned improvisation, classical music entered a sidetrack from which it has never escaped, thus badly stifling creative progress. If he is guilty of heresy or may have a point, read on and judge for yourself.