Artur Rubinstein’s playing was characterized by elegance and technical precision. His masterful phrasing is responsible for the most noble sound that has ever been preserved on recording. His playing combined energetic determination with touching poetry. But only in later life did these become permanent features of his art - the enormously talented pianist began to practice in earnest at an age when mere mortals are already thinking of their retirement.
Rubinstein was born in the Polish city of Łódź in 1887. He started out as a classic Wunderkind. At the age of four he played for legendary violinist Joseph Joachim and found in him a mentor. Rubinstein settled in Berlin, and at the age of 13 was already performing with the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1904 he moved to Paris. Here he learned new ways of relishing life - which he succumbed to. According to his own testimony, eating, smoking, the fine arts, wine, and women were at least as important to him at the time as serious piano practice. He continued to rely on his enormous talent.
Things changed after he got married: at the age of 43 he wed Aniela Młynarski, the daughter of a Polish conductor. He began systematically working on his entire repertoire. After this intensive period of practicing, Rubinstein made a celebrated comeback in New York in 1937.
His most important interpretations include the two colossal, soaring piano concertos of Johannes Brahms. The voice-like plasticity of his playing can be heard in his chamber music recordings, such as those with Henryk Szeryng and Pierre Fournier. But his name is most closely associated with the music of Frédéric Chopin. Rubinstein’s carrying tone, his musical intuition and compelling sense of rhythm made him the ideal Chopin interpreter. He had a firm grasp of these works, which he played without false sentimentality.