Summary: Jorge Bolet was born in Havana, Cuba on November 15, 1914. His teachers included David Saperton, Josef Hofmann and Leopold Godowsky. While in Europe for further training (1934), he began his concert career and toured throughout Europe. Bolet's North American debut was a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1937), and he made his New York recital debut at Town Hall (1937). Bolet joined both the Cuban and United States armies and also played with the Nippon Philharmonic Orchestra while stationed in Tokyo.
Following his separation from the service, Bolet toured extensively throughout the world both as recitalist and soloist and performed with most of the world's major orchestras. He was also known through radio and television appearances on such programs as the Bell Telephone Hour and was a leading interpreter of the music of Franz Liszt. Bolet made his first recordings on the Boston and Remington labels (1950s), and he recorded with various other labels, including an extensive cross-section of his repertoire during the last decade of his career with Decca/London. Bolet taught for many years at The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and at Indiana University in Bloomington, and he conducted numerous master classes around the world. Bolet died in San Mateo, California on October 16, 1990.
Full History: Jorge Bolet was born in Havana, Cuba on November 15, 1914, and began serious study of the piano at age five under the direction of his sister Maria. He played his first public recital at age nine and appeared as soloist with the Havana Sinfonica at age ten. In 1927, he was awarded a scholarship to The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with David Saperton. During this period he also played often for, and received coaching from, Josef Hofmann and Leopold Godowsky. At sixteen, he appeared as soloist with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner in Carnegie Hall. Upon his graduation in 1934, the Cuban government sent Bolet to Europe for further training under Moriz Rosenthal. While there, he began his concert career, appearing in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Milan, and Madrid and other Spanish cities.
Bolet's North American debut was in 1937, a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. This was followed by his New York recital debut at Town Hall in 1937 as winner of the Naumburg Award. He returned to Town Hall in 1940 as the first and only winner of the Josef Hofmann Award given by the Curtis Institute.
At the outbreak of World War II, Bolet joined the Cuban army and as a lieutenant served at the Cuban Embassy in Washington under regime of President Batista. After the Batista government fell, Bolet joined the United States Army and became an American citizen.While stationed in Tokyo with the Army of Occupation, Bolet conducted the Japanese premiere of "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, and made several appearances as soloist with the Nippon Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following his separation from the service, Bolet resumed his interrupted career. As both recitalist and soloist with orchestra, Bolet toured extensively throughout the world. He performed with most of the major orchestras including Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Copenhagen, Detroit, Los Angeles, Madrid, Minnesota, Oslo, Pittsburgh, and New York. He was known to an even wider audience through radio and television appearances on such programs as the Bell Telephone Hour. A leading interpreter of the music of Franz Liszt, Bolet recorded the sound track for "Song Without End", a 1961 motion picture on the life of Liszt.
Bolet's first recordings appeared in the early 1950s on the Boston and Remington labels, and include a much-acclaimed performance of Prokofiev's Concerto No.2. Subsequently his playing was featured on releases from RCA Victor, Everest, Ensayo, Genesis, Opus, Columbia/CBS, Vox and most notably Decca/London, for whom he recorded an extensive cross-section of his repertoire during the last decade of his career.
Bolet tought for many years at The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and at Indiana University in Bloomington, as well as conducting numerous master classes around the world.
Bolet died in San Mateo, California on October 16, 1990.