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Theodore Lettvin

American pianist and music teacher Theodore Lettvin died in Concord NH, USA, on Sunday 24 August 2003, aged 76.

Born in Chicago on 29 October 1926, Lettvin studied as a child with Howard Wells and Leon Rosenbloom, and made his début, aged twelve, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, playing the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto. At fifteen, he won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute, studying with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Rudolf Serkin.

As one of the leading American pianists of his generation, Lettvin received the Naumberg Award (1948), the Michaels Award (1950), and became a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Piano Competition (1952).

M&V's Gordon Rumson was at the University of Michigan whilst Lettvin was professor of piano there (1977-87). Many stories (and legends) were known and repeated about this larger-than-life musician. This is one: 'When he applied for the position he was auditioned. They asked him what he wanted to play. He said "What do you want to hear?" and took requests. Gyorgy Sandor asked him to play the Prokofiev Toccata. He did. Very well.'

Posted: 28 August 2003

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