After 2009’s biography Ignaz Friedman: Romantic Master Pianist by Allan Evans from Indiana University Press, and CD reprints on such labels as Arbiter Records; Naxos USA; and Philips Classics, new attention is being paid to the splendid Polish Jewish pianist Friedman. A warmly affectionate biographical memoir, “Ignaz Friedman” by Nina Walder, the pianist’s granddaughter, appeared in November 2010 from Les Editions Slatkine in Geneva.
The pianist, born Salomon Isaac Freudman in Podgorze, outside Cracow, adopted his stage name only in 1905, at age 23. By then, his identity as a Jewish pianist was well established after studies with noted teacher Theodor Leschetizky, who famously proclaimed three requirements for any keyboard virtuoso: “Being Slavic, Jewish and a child prodigy.” Friedman fulfilled all three criteria. On perpetual tour to far-flung places as an adult, Friedman wrote home to his family in 1927 from Cairo, Egypt:
The region which can be seen from our boat is sandy, dry, and extremely dull. Now I understand why Jews never wound up here.