Steuermann, Edward [Eduard]

(b Sambor, 18 June 1892; d New York, 11 Nov 1964). American pianist and composer of Polish birth. His education as a pianist was with Vilem Kurz (Lemberg) and Busoni (Berlin). He was to have studied composition with Humperdinck, but was so shocked when asked whether he wanted to compose in the Brahmsian or the Wagnerian manner that he never went back. Busoni, therefore, sent him to Schoenberg. In 1912 he took part in the first performance of Pierrot lunaire, and he played in the premieres of most of Schoenberg's later works. He was the pianist for the Verein fur Musikalische Privatauffuhrungen, founded in 1918 by Schoenberg, and introduced works by Skryabin and much new French music to Vienna. During his Viennese years (he emigrated to the USA in 1938), he was often the pianist for Karl Kraus's readings and recitations. In 1952 the ISCM gave him its highest award, the Schoenberg medal.

He was an illuminating interpreter of the standard repertory, and his Beethoven recitals in New York in the early 1950s were, with their structural clarity and pianistic beauty, among the most remarkable events of that time. His distinguished teaching career began in Poland in 1918 and continued there, in Vienna, Prague, in the USA (he taught at the Juilliard School of Music from 1952 until his death), Israel, Darmstadt, the Salzburg Mozarteum and Dartington Hall. His pupils included Theodor W. Adorno, Alfred Brendel, Jakob Gimpel, Natalie Hinderas, Lorin Hollander, Joseph Kalichstein, Lili Kraus, Moura Lympany and Russell Sherman.

Steuermann composed songs and choruses, music for solo piano, chamber works including Seven Waltzes for String Quartet (1946), a piano trio (1954), a string quartet, Diary (1961), and pieces for orchestra, among them a set of Variations (1958) and a Suite for Chamber Orchestra (1964). Some freely atonal, some serial, they are of economical, fastidious workmanship, imbued always with a keen feeling for instrumental style and sonority, and bearing, in their sensuousness, traces of his involvement with Debussy and Skryabin. Pianistic fantasy is evident also in his bravura transcription for solo piano of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony op.9 and in his version for three pianos of Schubert's Wohin?

G. Schuller: ' A Conversation with Steuermann', PNM, iii/1 (1964--5), 22--35
M. Stubenrauch: 'In Memoriam: Eduard Steuermann', OMz, xx (1965), 126--7
A.A. Netto: Eduard Stenermann: Um esboco de figura (Sao Paulo, 1991)