Vancouver Chopin Society
Message from the President

Special promotion

Dear Friends,

We hope that you are enjoying our Fifteenth Anniversary Concert Season so far.

It's hard to believe after the past two concerts, but our two biggest events of the Season are still to come. Daniil Trifonov, the most in-demand pianist of the younger generation and Rafał Blechacz, one of Deutsche Grammophon’s best-selling young artists, will bring our Fifteenth Anniversary Season to an epic conclusion. There is no better concert to choose to invite your family members or friends than one - or both! - of these two incredible artists who will each be available after his concert to talk and autograph CDs.

Are you looking for a Christmas gift for your love ones? You will get a 15% discount for every ticket, but if you buy two or more you will also get a free parking pass ($10 value) to the Chan Centre. Please call us at 604.871.4450 or send us an email with your phone number, and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Following the last recital of this season, there will be a reception to celebrate our Fifteenth Anniversary. This gala reception is $50 for non-subscribers and $25 for subscribers.

This month's feature article is written by our new Board member Henry Ewert. The Newsletter ends with Don Mowatt's extended and corrected remarks from his introductory speech before Kozhukhin's concert.


Chopin, Jose Iturbi, and Me
-- by Henry Ewert

How to entertain me, a four-year-old, when my mother took me along to Mrs. Milne in Kerrisdale for tea, was Mrs. Milne’s kindly concern, or so it seemed to me. (It was the early 1940’s and her husband was in Europe, at war, and my father was at work.)

Before I knew it, she had laid an RCA Victor 12-inch 78 r.p.m. record on the turntable of her mahogany radio/phonograph console, and glorious music ---piano music!---filled her apartment. She explained to my mother and me that it was the great pianist and movie star, Jose Iturbi, playing Chopin’s so-famous Polonaise in A flat. My reaction was of such enthusiasm that three actions followed, and in quick succession: my parents went with me to Sterling Furniture at 10th Avenue and Main Street and bought that recording for me; and I began a decade of piano lessons immediately, a piano having been purchased for me, also immediately.

Just a few years later, I attended my very first piano concert, Jose Iturbi himself, performing at Vancouver ’s only concert venue at the time, Georgia (formerly Denman) Auditorium, at the northwest corner of Georgia and Denman streets. What a revelation that was, and when he played a noon-hour recital in the old auditorium at U.B.C. during my first year there as a student, I could hardly wait to bound up on stage--- with dozens of other students--- after his performance to tell him that his Chopin had been a seminal experience in my life. Still stoking his pipe into action, he gave me a hug and a pat on the cheek.

That 78 r.p.m. recording of Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53 is actually the first classical recording to have sold a million copies, and today, some seventy years after its release, it is still available, one of thirteen compositions on Turia Records CD-105. Over a period of 42 years, 1933 to 1975, Jose Iturbi made hundreds of recordings, including much Chopin.

It has been estimated that Jose Iturbi brought the music of Chopin to a vaster audience than all other pianists combined since Chopin himself first publicly performed his own works. Iturbi was the off-screen pianist for the movie of Chopin’s life, “A Song to Remember,” which, monumentally successful around the world in its own year (1945), is still seen regularly on television. Iturbi’s Chopin selections from the film became one of the best-selling collections of all time. Long before the film, however, Iturbi’s Chopin was prized as one of the particular delights of his repertoire.

From late 1918, age 23, through 1923, Iturbi was Professor Superior of Piano (the chair once held by Franz Liszt) at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. He relinquished this position when his concert engagements became too numerous, and moved to Paris , to become one of the most sought-after pianists. He played in all of Europe , Africa , the Far East , Russia , and South America . In 1929 Jose Iturbi made his debuts in Canada and the United States (with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic), and in 1933 he made his debut in Mexico City and stayed to form and conduct a symphony orchestra.

When he returned to New York , he was immediately engaged to conduct the summer concerts of both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Iturbi was Music Director and Conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic from 1936 to 1944; and he co-starred in seven Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical films between 1942 and 1949.

Born in Valencia in1895, Jose Iturbi died on June 28, 1980 in Los Angeles , having made an extraordinarily massive impact on the world of music during his lifetime. His Chopin will always be indispensable.




Denis Kozhukhin and the two Novgorods by Don Mowatt

Introducing the sensational young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin at his recent Vancouver Chopin Society Concert this November, I made the serious mistake of confusing his birthplace Nizhny Novgorod with Veliky Novgorod. These two Russian cities that share a name are about ten travelling hours apart with very different backgrounds and situations.

Kozhukhin was born in Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth largest city in Russia situated at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers , two hundred and fifty miles south of Moscow and dating from the beginning of the thirteenth century. During the Soviet era, it was renamed Gorky after the celebrated native son Maxim Gorky, a prominent Soviet author. During this time, and lasting until 1991, the city, though it was a popular vacation spot for Russians, was closed to foreigners because it was a centre for military research and production. Andrei Sakharov, the Nobel prize winner and critic of Soviet politics was exiled here to isolate him from foreign contacts.

Nizhny Novgorod, which translates as Lower New City, was also the birthplace of composer Mily Balakirev and pianist conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy. Though smaller than Vancouver, it boasts eight theatres, five major concert halls, ninety-seven libraries and an impressive art gallery of international reputation.

Veliky Novgorod, often just called Novgorod, is a much older and smaller city on the Federal Highway from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. Established in the ninth century, it was on the ancient route from the Baltics to Byzantium and is mentioned under its ancient name in the old Viking Sagas. The great composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff was born just outside Novgorod.

Names which constantly change in Russian history and literature may appear to us to reflect the same place or person, but further investigation often proves us quite wrong. Perhaps there is a deeper lesson here.

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Next Concerts


April 10, 2013 8:00 pm
Chan Centre



Gala Reception
May 12, 2013 at 3 pm
Chan Centre




604.871.4450 | |