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.

© Rainer Elstner, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • 1910 First recording, of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 10

  • 1928 Starts recording for RCA Victor

  • 1946 Rubinstein becomes an American citizen

  • 1969 „Artur Rubinstein -The Love of Life“ wins an Oscar for Best Documentary Film

  • 1977 Named Knight Commander of the British Empire

  • 1994 Posthumously awarded the Grammy Life Achievement Medal

Did you know?

  • Rubinstein’s father first wanted young Artur to learn the violin. But as Rubinstein later recounted, he instinctively turned toward the piano - the instrument of harmony and polyphony.

  • Rubinstein felt a strong connection not only with his Polish homeland. He also regularly gave benefit concerts for institutions he felt were important.

  • Chopin the Romanticist? False, according to Rubinstein: Beethoven was the true Romanticist, having broken with the strict classicism of Haydn and Mozart.

  • In keeping with his last will, Rubinstein’s ashes were buried in Jerusalem one year after his death.

  • The Artur Rubinstein Piano Competition has taken place in Israel since 1974. Winners have included Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov.

  • Rubinstein’s earliest recording dates from 1910. As studio technology improved, he re-recorded much of his repertoire in stereo.

  • Rubinstein preferred studio to live recordings. Most of his recordings were made between 1928 and 1976.

  • Rubinstein championed music by South American composers as well as works by his compatriot Karol Szymanowski.