Arthur Rubinstein plays Beethoven and Chopin

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Antal Dorati

Royal, "King Arthur" delivers a Beethoven Fourth Concerto and a Chopin Polonaise of legend.

That evening in 1967 in concert in London, it was a young man of eighty who performed on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati. "I have never met a man as happy as I am!," he liked to say about himself. That evening, listening to him play a rendition of Beethoven's Fourth Concerto full of luminous grace, there couldn't be a happier audience either.

If there were one word to define Arthur Rubinstein's artistry, it would be song. "King Arthur," as he was nicknamed, lets the music sing as it flows through his magician's fingers. He overcomes with disarming facility all the difficulties, trills and arpeggios. Only blindness, ten years later, finally overcame this born pianist, who as a child prodigy, made his official debut at the age of fourteen with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and soon became an international star.

Although he adopted American nationality after the Second World War, Poland where he was born, always remained close to his heart. Few pianists have played Chopin's music as naturally as he did, as in the famous Polonaise in A flat Major op. 53, the "Heroic" Polonaise he performed in the encore that evening in 1967. Chopin's wish that the work should be played "without crashing thunder" is fulfilled by King Arthur. Pure music.


  • Arthur Rubinstein plays Beethoven, filmed by Antony Craxton, at the Royal Festival Hall, London, 7 December 1967, BBC archive.
  • Omnibus: Rubinstein speaks, BBC archive by Anthony Wilkinson, 1968.
  • The piano revealed by the film, Michel Hirvy collection, Archives Canada.

Movie director : Philippe Truffault
Playlists : Great interpreters of the 20th century, Chopin's greatest performers and works, Best of 2014
Music genre : Orchestral music
Musical form : Concerto

Duration : 50 min
Location : Royal Festival Hall (London, Great Britain)
Recording date : 1967
Production date : 2000
Production : © Idéale Audience / Img Artists / BBC

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