Pianist Constance Keene Dies at 84

Classic Arts News   Pianist Constance Keene Dies at 84
Pianist and teacher Constance Keene died on December 24, reports the New York Times.

Keene's extensive discography includes the complete Hummel sonatas, about which Harold Schonberg wrote, "Her fleet and accurate passagework exactly suits the writing, her textures are always clear, her scale work a delight, and her musicianship is beyond reproach."

Another fan was Artur Rubinstein, who praised the "fantastic sweep, color, tone and ... incredible technique" of her recording of the Rachmaninoff Preludes. He engaged Keene to teach his own children.

Keene, a Brooklyn native, began piano lessons at the age of four. In 1934, aged 13, she began studying with Abram Chasins, who later became her husband and recording and performing partner. She won the Naumburg Competition in 1943 and gave her first professional tour in 1945, famously substituting for Vladimir Horowitz in 1946. Her collaborations with Yehudi Menuhin at the Gstaad Festival were praised, as were her performances of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Benny Goodman.

She joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in 1969, and became a trustee of the conservatory in 1997.

Keene performed infrequently over the past few years, but continued to teach and write for publications such as Clavier magazine. She was also a juror at major competitions and gave master classes in Europe, Asia, and South Africa.

Keene was 84 and lived in Manhattan.

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