Gulda and Hancock in Munich

Munich Summer Piano Festival 1999

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Friedrich Gulda — Pianist

Herbie Hancock — Pianist

Program notes

Most renowned for his Mozart and Beethoven interpretations, the classical pianist Friedrich Gulda always harbored an affinity for jazz. Indeed, this love had to remain secret at first – as a teenager during WW2, the Austrian pianist would experiment with jazz (then considered forbidden music) along with his friend, the fusion legend Joe Zawinul. Gulda was really able to spread his jazz wings by the mid 1950s. Already a renowned classical musician, he played at the famous Birdland club and at the Newport Jazz Festival, determined to branch out and to stop "riding the cheap triumphs of the Baroque bandwagon" as he put it. The next decades saw a flourishing of his jazz side, particularly through collaborations at the Münchner Klaviersommer, or the Munich Summer Piano Festival, where he hosted high-profile encounters with his old friend Joe Zawinul, as well as the greatest jazz pianists of the age, like Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. 

Here, we see him joined by the latter in a performance that features both solo and duo work. In the rankings of piano legends, Herbie Hancock might be the Mozart of the jazz piano – he has played with everyone under the sun and immortalized his music in the development of post-bop alongside Miles Davis. With a long list of standards, he is one of the grandest of the jazz composers and, for his part, delivers originals, as well as Cole Porter and Miles Davis tracks. Gulda matches him note for note, weaving his classical elegance into the loose thread of jazz, something he once described as "the rhythmic drive, the risk, the absolute contrast to the pale, academic approach I had been taught." A special performance. 

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