Fanfare Contributor Bio
I was born in 1955 in New York City and grew up in Westport, Connecticut. Since 1996, I have lived in northern Vermont with my wife Sharon Lamb and two sons. I am a pianist, private piano teacher, and a music faculty member at the University of Vermont. I also run the Humanities Program Concert Series at Saint Michael’s College and am on the faculty of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. My website is www.paulorgel.com.
As a piano performance major, I attended the Oberlin Conservatory and earned degrees from the New England Conservatory and Boston University, where my teachers were Theodore Lettvin, Russell Sherman, and Anthony di Bonaventura. My DMA in piano performance is from Temple University, where I studied piano with Harvey Wedeen and fortepiano with Lambert Orkis.
I have performed throughout the U.S. since the late 1970s; about half solo concerts and half chamber music. Though I have specialized in Czech music at times, my musical sympathies as a pianist are varied and always evolving. Currently on my piano’s music rack (for upcoming concerts) are the Gabriel Pierné Violin Sonata, the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time, Dvorák’s American Suite, and Busoni’s Indianisches Tagebuch.
I have made three commercial recordings, each of which has been reviewed in Fanfare (see the archive), the most recent being a 2005 disc of solo piano works by Pavel Haas, Karel Berman, Gideon Klein, and Viktor Ullmann on the Phoenix USA label. A Fanfare reviewer once referred to me as “the amusingly named pianist” so I will point out that my last name is accented on the second syllable and that I have no connection with Germany or the organ, though my mother, Doris Adelberg, was a refugee from Vienna.
Intense listening to music (really listening, never for “relaxation,” as public radio tries to market classical music to its listeners, but for excitement and new discoveries) has been a lifelong passion. Being taken to the old and new Met (my parents had a Tuesday evening subscription), to Carnegie Hall, and even to the Salzburg Festival as a child got me started. If I have something to offer as a pianist it is because I have spent my life listening to great singers—as Chopin advised—and string players.
Ever since an early infatuation with Von Karajan’s 1950 Le nozze di Figaro on three heavy Columbia Masterwork LPs with blue labels—a wrongheaded performance, to be sure, but magical nonetheless—recordings have been tremendously important to me. (I still own a copy of Kurt Weill’s “Berlin Theater Songs,” a Columbia LP with a sinister, expressionist portrait of Lotte Lenya on the cover, which I knew by heart at a very early age and took a bite out of one day.)
With the music that means the most to me (for example, the Mahler Fourth, Otello, Die Winterreise, Figaro), I have certainly been on a lifelong quest to acquire the best recordings, but as a collector, I have neither the obsession nor the resources to amass multiple recordings of most works and hope that Fanfare readers will welcome me into the fold as a fox (non-specialist) among distinguished hedgehogs.