Wilhelm Kempff Biography
Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) came from a family of organists. At the Berlin Hochschule für Musik he studied with Heinrich Barth and Robert Kahn. He made his début in 1907 and continued performing until 1981. He recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas three times in his long career. As a Bach player he was highly regarded. His intimate knowledge of the organ (he continued to play the organ even after choosing a pianistic career) contributed to his sensitivity and authority when playing Bach on the piano. His piano transcriptions of Bach’s music are among the finest for the instrument. We hear Kempff perform his own transcription of Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers, Wake!), BWV 645, which he recorded in Berlin in 1936.
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