He did not receive formal lessons until he was ten, and when he was twelve he was accepted by the pre-eminent music teacher of the time, Nils Larsen. On several occasions, his parents hocked their wedding rings to pay for music lessons. Like many of the classical musicians of pre-World War II era, Levin played at restaurants to support himself. He took private lessons with Gustav Lange and notably Fartein Valen, being exposed to a wide range of musical traditions and innovations. Levin was the last living silent movie veteran when he died in 1996.
He also became an accomplished accordion player during this time. Levin had his performance debut on January 26, 1932 to widespread acclaim. (A critic, reflecting anti-Semitic prejudice of the time, speculated that Levin owed his success to his "father's money bag.") Levin was introduced to several strains of modern music when he was engaged in the orchestra at Theatercafeen, where the Norwegian exponent of neo-Classical music Sparre Olsen, played. But the orchestra also introduced Levin to jazz music. When Nazi authorities in occupied Norway started arresting and deporting Jews, Levin went under cover with friends and eventually fled to Sweden, hiding in a load of hay. The rest of his family arrived in Sweden a few days later, but many of Levin's closest relatives were murdered in Auschwitz. Sponsored by the Norwegian exile government or Svenska Norgeshjälpen, Levin performed for Norwegian resistance fighters in Sweden along with Herberth Ballarini and his wife Solveig, Randi Heide Steen, Ernst Glaser, Gunnar Sønstevold, Hugo Kramm, Gunnar Reiss Andersen, Axel Kielland, Lauritz Falk, Sonja Mjøen, and others.
Levin also sent packages to musical colleagues in Oslo under the pseudonym Banjo-Lasse. When the family Levin returned to one of the central train stations in Oslo in June of 1945, the orchestra Robert had to leave nearly three years earlier awaited him at the platform, performing at their arrival. After the war, Levin decided to concentrate more on a classical career, and after he accompanied Gösta Kjellertz, his career as an accompanist took off. He accompanied such diverse international artists as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Yehudi Menuhin, Roberta Peters, Rita Streich, Henryk Szeryng, Ann Brown, Kim Borg, Camilla Wicks, Felicia Weathers; and a panorama of Norwegian artists that included Ingrid Bjoner, Knut Skram, Arve Tellefsen, Terje Tønnesen, Elise Båtnes, Aase Nordmo Løvberg, Edith Thallaug, and Ole Bøhn. He took part in performing tours all around the world. Notably, on May 22nd of 1984, he and the American pianist by the same name, Robert Levin, performed together in Carnegie Hall in a concert called "From Grieg to Gershwin" with then Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja in attendance. The two, along with other musicians including Ole Bøhn, Knut Skram, Felicia Weathers, and Ingrid Bjoner performed pieces by Edvard Grieg, Richard Hageman, Harry Owens, Aaron Copland, Celius Dougherty, Oley Speaks, George Gershwin, and others. He was the first rector of the Norwegian Academy of Music when it was founded in 1973, where he was also a professor of interpretation.
When the academy moved to its new facilities in Majorstuen in 1989, one of the performance halls was named after Levin. (2) Robert D. Levin (born October 13, 1947) has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and in Asia, appearing with the orchestras of Atlanta, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, Utah and Vienna on the Steinway and with the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Baroque Soloists, the Handel & Haydn Society, the London Classical Players, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique on period pianos. Renowned for his improvised cadenzas in Classical period repertoire, Robert Levin has made recordings of a wide range of repertoire for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, DG Archiv, Decca/London, ECM, Hänssler, New York Philomusica, Philips, and SONY Classical. His recordings include Bach's complete keyboard concertos, the six English Suites and both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier (Hänssler Edition Bachakademie); a Mozart concerto cycle with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music for Decca/Oiseau Lyre; and the Beethoven concertos with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique for DG Archiv.
A passionate advocate of new music, Robert Levin has commissioned and premiered a large number of works, including Joshua Fineberg's Veils (2001), John Harbison's Second Sonata (2003), Yehudi Wyner's piano concerto Chiavi in mano (Pulitzer Prize, 2006), Bernard Rands' Preludes (2007) and Thomas Oboe Lee's Piano Concerto (2007). Robert Levin appears frequently with his wife, pianist Ya-Fei Chuang, in duo recitals and with orchestra, and with violist Kim Kashkashian. A noted Mozart scholar, Mr. Levin's completions of Mozart's Requiem, C-minor Mass and other unfinished works have been recorded and performed throughout the world. After more than a quarter century as an artist teacher at the Sarasota Music Festival he was made Associate Artistic Director in 2004 and succeeded Paul Wolfe as Artistic Director in 2007.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Akademie für Mozartforschung, he is President of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition (Leipzig, Germany). Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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