'I cannot imagine anybody, including Rachmaninov, playing the piano so beautifully.' - Arthur Rubinstein.
Known for her interpretations of Chopin, Hummel and Rachmaninov - especially the Preludes, for her friendship with Vladimir Horowitz, her collaborations with Benny Goodman and Yehudi Menuhin and for her beauty and gracefulness whilst performing, American pianist and teacher Constance Keene was born in New York on 9 February 1921.
As winner of the Naumberg Prize and soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago, Hallé, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia orchestras, she became one of very few female American pianists to gain a reputation internationally. Harold Schoenberg, writing in The New York Times, called her 'a natural pianist with a deceptively easy approach to the keyboard'.
As a teacher Constance Keene taught Rubinstein's children, David Bar-Illan, Steven Mayer, Peter Nero and John Bell Young, and taught at the Manhattan School of Music from 1969, becoming one of the school's board of trustees in 1997. She also judged competitions, including the Van Cliburn and Naumberg.
Constance Keene died in New York on 24 December 2005, aged eighty-four.
Classical music news - May 2022 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month
Legendary generosity - Remembering Constance Keene (1921-2005): an appreciation, by John Bell Young