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November 2015
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Meet the Man Who Pioneered Live-Streaming Performances Online



Earl Wild was among other things a composer, a conductor and a very funny raconteur, but above all, he was an extraordinary pianist. Although he was one of the earliest American born performers to make an international impact, his life and career were highly unconventional.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 26, 1915, he above all loved playing the piano, starting at the tender age of four, and performing in public until the ripe old age of ninety-two, astonishingly with virtually no diminishment in capacity. By the time he was fourteen years of age, he was already the pianist of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Otto Klemperer, and from 1937-42, he was the pianist of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini, as well as a staff pianist at NBC.

He was the first musician to give a piano recital on television, and the first to give one on the Internet as well. He played recitals for six consecutive sitting United States presidents, from Herbert Hoover through Lyndon Johnson. As his career took off, he became especially renowned for playing virtuoso Romantic era showpieces, yet his artistry was far greater and much more wide-ranging than that.

He was perhaps the last of the great Romantic pianists, for whom the written score provided only the basis for a performance and not its totality, combining spectacular technique with deep musical insight. Fortunately for posterity, he made many recordings for numerous record labels.

On this centenary of his birth, the award winning record producers Jon M. Samuels and Joe Patrych examine and reminisce about his life and career in a two-hour program that you can stream below. Click to enjoy many musical examples interspersed with commentary by Mr. Wild himself.

– Jon Samuels

  • Michael Rollan Davis

    Thanks Jon and Joe for putting together this wonderful tribute to Earl. I loved it!

    Michael Rolland Davis

  • fuguewriter

    A wonderful look at an important master. Thank you for hosting this!

  • ThePianoFiles

    Bravo! A wonderful tribute to a master pianist!

  • ThePianoFiles

    Bravo! A terrific tribute to a master pianist!

  • Valerie Joan Kraemer

    he certainly had a predilection for a sparkling niche of repertoire that needed to be “made” by a sympathetic interpreter who recognized what could be done with it and could stay the course through unforgiving passage work

  • Valerie Joan Kraemer

    jeux d’eau turned out nice. one reason is that he mainhtained the alignment of it in a precise way without twisting it around

  • Thanks for this! This will stay up for quite awhile, I hope?

  • Timothy W.

    An engaging profile which truly demonstrates how impressive and musical of a pianist Wild was. And a charming, witty person too. Well done, Jon and Joe!

  • David E. Canfield

    Congratulations on airing this superb presentation of the life and wonderful artistry of one of my long-time favorite pianists. I think that Jon Samuels and Joe Patrych achieved just the right balance of commentary and performance, and hearing Wild’s own voice and thoughts also helped to make the program special.
    I do hope that you will broadcast more programs of this sort in the future. This is really first-rate programming!
    Your listener,
    David E. Canfield

  • Karl F. Miller

    Karl F. Miller
    This program reminds me of the days when classical music broadcasting was not just meant for passive listening. Classical Music broadcasting on the level of this program seems to me to be rare these days. What I just heard was highly informative and entertaining. It was a radio program for active listening. It seems to me that when any music is used for background, it can become wallpaper and we can take it for granted. Programs like this, engage us in the art of music and make us so much more aware of how classical music can enrich our lives and stimulate our thinking. This enlightening and educational approach to classical music broadcasting keeps this art form alive and in our minds. The more you broadcast programs like this, the more often I will listen!


  • Michael R. Kellman

    A terrific show, bringing us a rather forgotten pianist, who didn’t conform to the “standard” classical career model and suffered for it. As a former classical record employee in the 70s and 80s, I remember well that his name rarely came up when recording projects were discussed. Jon Samuels has brilliantly reminded us all what a loss to recorded classical music happened. Jon’s knowledge and taste brings us the whole world that artists like Earl Wild were capable of creating on the piano. Let’s have more salutes to great, but under appreciated keyboard titans of the LP era. Thank you Jon.

  • Gary Graffman

    This program reminded me – of a distant, but vivid memory – of the very best that was available on radio during my student days. Jon Samuels and Joe Patrych have produced for us a marvelous program with their tribute to the American pianist Earl Wild on the centenary of his birth. It is a memorable account of a remarkable and idiosyncratic artist, presented in a fascinating way, including a wonderful combination of musical examples, comments from the artist himself, and coupled with erudite and enthusiastic observations from Messrs. Samuels and Patrych. I was almost sorry when it ended, not even realizing that I had been listening to a two-hour production.

    If only programs of this caliber were readily available on the radio stations that still present classical music, I truly believe that such presentations would greatly enlarge the listenership. Nowadays there exist so many possibilities to acquaint and reacquaint music lovers with a huge panoply of performers, from 78rpm days to the present, that Messrs. Samuels and Patrych could have endless opportunities to entertain and edify with their intriguing discourses.

    –Gary Graffman

  • Joseph Sutton

    Thanks, Jon Samuels and Joe Patrych, for introducing pianist Earl Wild to me. The recordings were exceptional, the commentary informative.

  • Harold Hagopian

    Very interesting show. Restoration and sound quality of the recordings is really professional and done with finesse. I used to do that sort of work at RCA Victor so I appreciate the skill and care given to the digital transfers.

  • Barbara Vazsonyi

    Awe-inspiring program of an
    awe-inspiring yet gentle, highly-approachable pianist and musician. How lovely
    it was to not only hear Wild’s playing but also his words. One came away with
    a nicely-rounded feel for the genius. I wonder if there could be more such
    programs on not-to-be-forgotten musicians of our past – so valuable for the
    young, in particular, to know about.

  • Alan Lesitsky

    A wonderful program, Jon and Joe. I can only echo the sentiments below. Hopefully there will be more programs forthcoming. In terms of preserving culture and educating people about culture, this is a home run.

  • Peter Rabinowitz

    Thanks, Jon and Joe, for managing to give such a full picture of Earl Wild, one that captures his spirit and the range of his artistry better than I would have imagined possible in two hours.