08 April, 2009

Robert Casadesus

Robert Casadesus was a renowned 20th-century French pianist and composer. He was the most prominent member of a famous musical family, being the nephew of Henri Casadesus and Marius Casadesus, husband of Gaby Casadesus, and father of Jean Casadesus.

Robert Casadesus was born in Paris and studied there at the Conservatoire with Louis Diémer, taking a Premier Prix (First Prize) in 1913 and the Prix Diémer in 1920. Robert then entered the class of Lucien Capet, who had exceptional influence. Capet had founded a famous quartet that bore his name (Capet Quartet)and in which two of Robert’s uncles played: Henri and Marcel. The Quartet often rehearsed in the Casadesus home, and so it was that Robert was initiated into chamber music. The Beethoven Quartets held no secret for him—he knew them backwards and forwards without ever having played them!

Beginning in 1922, Casadesus collaborated with the composer Maurice Ravel on a project to create piano rolls of a number of his works. Casadesus and Ravel also shared the concert platform in France, Spain and England.

Casadesus toured widely as a piano soloist. He often performed with his wife, the pianist Gaby, whom he married in 1921.

From 1935 Casadesus taught at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau . He and his family spent the Second World War years in the United States. They had a home in Princeton, New Jersey. He taught a notable group of future piano performers from all over Europe and the United States, including Claude Helffer and Monique Haas.

His style of playing was classical and restrained with a very delicate approach to melody and line. He is especially noted as an interpreter of Mozart. Among his other recordings are those of the music of Ravel, and the Beethoven Violin Sonatas with Zino Francescatti.

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