I don’t play accurately—anyone can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.
—Algernon, in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest

By common consent, the French pianist Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) was one of the greatest musical performers of the century. One of the most recorded pianists of the pre-LP era, he left behind him an extensive phonographic documentation that included most of the works of Chopin, almost all the important keyboard works of Schumann, and some of the classics of late-nineteenth and eariy-twentieth-century French composition as well. He was a brilliant chamber musician, forming a trio as early as 1905 with the violinist Jacques Thibaud and the cellist Pablo Casals; their recordings remain classics. He wrote important books about Chopin and about French piano music....

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