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March 18, 1956 - Image 9

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Michigan Daily, 1956-03-18

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SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 1956


Two-Piano Team Play Varied Works

Vitya Vronsky and Victor Babin
are "the most brilliant two-piano
team of our generation," ' - -rd-
ing to a national magazine.
The artists who will appear in
the May 4 May Festival concert
have a notable dual musicianship
which is now well established.
Whether it is as protagonists of
an important concert honoring
Rachmaninoff or in an exchange
of musical' banter with Hildegarde
on a radio program, they are
equally at home.
War Interrupts
When the war interrupted their
career and Babin joined the Army
Air Forces, Mme. Vronsky quickly
adapted herself to the new situa-
tion by volunteering for duty in a
military hospital near her hus-
band's station. When they could
not play for their traditional pub-
lic, they turned to a new audience,
the American G.I.'s. They found
them hungry for the sparkling
music that can be turned out by
two Steinways at once and devel-
oped an entirely new public.
Both artists were born in Rus-
sia, but 500 miles apart. They both
studied piano from childhood in
homes with a musical background
and as they grew older, and as
their talents were confirmed, went
to train in suitable conservatories.
When the time came to choose a
master to style their talents and
direct their careers, they both se-
lected Artur Schnable. It was in
his studio in Berlin that they met.
In addition to piano, Babin
studied composition elsewhere and
at the same time Miss Vronsky
made her debut as a solo pianist.
When her career took her to Eng-
land, romance ultimately trans-
ported her\ back to Berlin. There
she and Babin.made two worthy
decisions-to marry and to merge
their separate careers as duo-pi-
London Debut
They went to London to make
their debut and soon had a wide
public throughout the British
Isles. Then they played in Paris
where Miss Vronsky's mother and
pianist brother had settled and
went on to Belgium and Holland.
They began to make recordings
in England, introducing new mu-
sid to the two-piano repertoire,
much of it composed, by Babin
A recording of Rachmaninoff's'

Noted Tenor
To Appear
In Festival
Leading tenor of the New York
City Opera and popular star of
radio, television and concert stage,
Rudolf Petrak will appear in the
second and fifth May Festival
Known for his exceptional mus-
icianship and a warmly personal
style of singing, a New York critic
remarked that it was Petrak who
transformed the "diamond horse-
shoe" into the "family circle" and
brought opera into the living room,
making it familiar entertainment
rather than,a hallowed art.
His recital programs include a
great variety of folk songs and
art songs and he has been heard
at the New Yor City Center and
with other opera companies across
the country in major roles of some
twenty-five operas in five lang-
Began as a Violinist'
Born in Czechslovaia of a highly
musical family, Petrak began his
musical career as a violinist and
at thirteen was giving recitals. As
a student in the Teachers College
in Spisska, Kapitula, he studied
piano, organ, harmony and voice.
He received the master's degree
and fora time taughtssports and
academic subjects as well as
As soloist with the famous,
Teachers Chorus of Czechoslovakia
he was heard by the director of
the National Opera and invited
to join the opera in Bratislava.
There, while singing the role of
Manrico in "Il Trovatore" on
Christmas, 1947, Petrak was heard
by the director of the New York
City Opera, Laszlo Halasz, who
signed him up the next day to
come to America.
Guest Performances
During the past seven seasons,
Petrak has become a favorite at
the New York City Center, every
summer in Chicago's Grant Park
and in numerous guest perform-
ances with opera companies of
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago,
San Francisco, Cincinnati and San
Varied Performances
He has also appeared with sym-
phony orchestras as soloist, in
oratorio, radio and television per-

Winters Recalls Career

German Soprano To Sing
In First Festival Concert

Cotton farming to concert and
opera .finging via the musicals
comedy stage is the life story of
baritone Lawrence Winters, ap-
pearing in the May Festival this
Born in King's Creek, S.C.,
Winters was the fourth in a fam-
ily of six children. His father
was a cotton picker and Winters
spent his childhood attending
Blackburg's one - room school-
The family moved to East Spen-
cer, N.C. where Winters attended
high school. Upon graduation
from high school he went to
Washington, D.C. for a post grad-
uate course at Dunbar High Sphool
in preparation for a law degree
at Howard University.At high
school a music teacher discovered
his vocal gifts and when he en-
rolled at Howard in 1935, he be-
came a music major.
To pay his tuition and mainte-
nance Winters worked as a deliv-

went to New York where his per-
formance as Dessalines, Emperor
of Haiti, stood out in a cast of
Rave notices weren't enough to
keep Winters going. He became a
singing waiter at the Glass Hat of
the Belmont Plaza. The late Ergo
Rapee became interested in him
and put him on several broad-
casts. Finally he auditioned for
Stokowski who engaged him as
soloist in 1941 for Beethoven's
Ninth Symphony with the NBC
"Porgy and Bess"
From the Stokowski appearance
came an engagement as a soloist
in Mahler's "Eighth Symphony,"
conducted by Rapee and a posi-
tion in "Porgy and Bess" as Todd.
Duncan's alternate.
In 1942 Winters became a pri-
vate in the Army and appeared
in Washington in 1944 at the
President's Birthday Ball. At the
time of his discharge he was a
After a stretch in Cafe Society,
Winters went into "Call Me Mis-
ter". All this time he kept up his
music studies and in November
1947, he made a notable Town
Hall debut.
Appears in Mexico
After Town Hall, Winterst went
to Mexico, where he stayed for
double the number of perform-
ances originally scheduled. He re-
turned there in the spring of 1948,
when his stay was again extended.
His operatic debut was at the
New York City Center in the role
of Amonasro in "Aida." It is the
title role of Verdi's "Rigoletto"
that has brought Winters his
greatest fame. His performance of
the hapless jester is considered
one of the memorable operatic
achievements of the present
In the summer of 1950 Winters
visited Europe for his initial con-
cert tour and sang twenty-five
times in nine cuntries. The next
summer he returned to underscore
his sensational success in the cit-
ies he had previously visited and
to make his first concert appear-
ances in Venice; Palermo, Paris
and other French and Italian cul-
tural centers. In addition he con-
certized extensively in South
America and he has just recently
returned from a tour of the West

Appearing in the first concert
of the May Festival series, Inge
Borkh is the handsome young
German soprano whom many crit-
ics regard as the most exciting per-
sonality to appear in opera in
several years.
After her first performance as
Elektra with the San Francisco
Opera in 1953, she was enthus-
iastically compared with Flagstad.
Miss Borkh was raised in a musi-
cal and theatrical family in Mann-
heim, where as a girl she partici-
pated in New Year's Eve and birth-
day variety shows that became
nationally famous, though given
chiefly for relatives and friends.
' Studied Piano
When the family moved to
Vienna, Miss Borkh studied piano
and dancing at the Vienna Acad-
emy and acting at the Reinhardt
Seminar. She had a succesful per-
iod on the stage in plays of Grill-
parzer, Goethe and others before
entering opera in Lucerne in 1950.
The past few years have includ-
ed further music study in Italy
and operatic appearances in Bern,
Basel, Geneva, the -Munich, Ber-
lin and Nayreuth Festivals andI

leading opera houses of Italy,
Great Britain and Portugal.
Miss Bor h has won especially
high praise for leading roles in
"Fidelio," "Elektra," "Tbsca," "Sa-
lome," "Die Walkuee," "Turan-
dot," and "The Counsul."
Appears in Premieres
In 1955 she appeared in two
world premieres in La Scalla, Milan
and the Salzburg Festival.
During the past two seasons
Miss Borkh has come to America
for' appearances with the San
Francisco and New Orleans Op-
eras, and with the Montreal and
Los Angeles Symphony Orchestras,
In concert she has become es-
pecially known for her ability to
convey the mood of an opera
through individual excerpts. Arias
sung in concert, she feels, are not
to be treated as isolated songs,
however beautiful, but rather as
opportunities to present in con-
centrated form the essence of a
character in a dramatic situation.
Each aria is therefore sung with
an unusually full realization of the
music drama from which it is

Iii 'Ii


"Second Suite" became a best-
seller and was released in America
where it attracted first attention
to the new piano team.
The team came to America and
made their debut in Town Hall in
February, 1937. They were quick-
ly established among the top con-
cert attractions in the music busi-
Babin Composes
Fortunately they did not have
to rely entirely on transcriptions
of other piano works to which
two-piano music was largely lim-
ited at the time. Babin composed,
among other things, a brilliant
concerto for two pianos which
they had played with the London
Philharmonic. This became the
music of their debut with the Chi-
cago Orchestra and the next sea-
son they performed it in their
first appearance with the New
York Philharmonic Symphony.
Now all of the great composers
write for two pianos and today
Vronsky and Babin have a wide

repertoire. They also have annual
concert tours, never less than 75
engagements including appear-I
ances with all of the leading sym-
Babin's prolific compositions
now include works for piano, vio-
lin, cello string quartets and
songs. Among his best known
transcriptions are several works of
Rachmaninoff made with the late
master's permission and personal
interest. Babin takes time out
each summer to write music.
Retreat to Santa Fe
The artists go to their retreat
near Santa Fe, a charming ranch
house built around two pianos
and aptly named Rancho Piano.
There on the edge of the desert
Vronsky and Babin have started a
small music colony which may one
day establish Santa Fe as an in-
ternational music settlement.
They also spend two months
each summer at the Aspen Festi-
val in Colorado of which Babin is



- $13.00--Block A. Three Central Stations,
limited number available in First
$10.00-Block B. Side Sections. Main
Floor and First Balcony.
$9.00-Block C. First 8 Rows Top
- $8.00-Block D. 13 Rear Top Balcony.


$3.50-Main Floor.
$3.00-First Balcony.
$2.50-Second Balcony, First 8 Rows.
$2.00, $1 .50-Second Balcony, Rear.


ery boy, an elevator operator, and
for three summers toured with
the Eva Jessye Choir as soloist.-
Dogged by financial difficulties,
he finally graduated in June, 1941.1
Three days before commence-
ment, Winters received an offer to!
appear in Cameron White's op-
era, "Ounga," in New York. After
receiving his Baccalaureate he1

By buying season tickets a considerable saving is made,
and a better seat location secured.

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Eugene Ormandy
Musical Director and Conductor of
Philadelphia Orchestra
Thor Johnson
Conductor, Cincinnati Orchestra
Festival Guest Conductor
"C . . :

Lester McCoy

Associate Conductor of
University Choral Union
Marguerite Hood

Conductor of
Festival Youth Chorus






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