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Isabelle Vengerova
Born 1 March 1877
Died 7 February 1956
New York City
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Pianist, music teacher
Instruments Piano
Years active 1906–1956

Isabelle Vengerova (1 March [O.S. 17 February] 1877 – 7 February 1956) was a Russian, later American, pianist and music teacher

She was born Izabella Afanasyevna Vengerova (Изабелла Афанасьевна Венгерова), in Minsk (now in Belarus). Her elder brother Semyon Vengerov was a venerable literary historian. She studied the piano at the Vienna Conservatory with Josef Dachs, and privately with Theodor Leschetizky; in Saint Petersburg she studied with Anna Yesipova. From 1906 to 1920 she taught at the Imperial Conservatory in St Petersburg and then toured the USSR and Western Europe from 1920 to 1923, when she settled in the USA.

In 1924 she helped found the Curtis Institute and in 1933 joined the faculty of the Mannes College, teaching at both institutions until her death in New York in 1956. Vengerova was also known for her painstaking attention to detail and for a psychological insight that brought out the best in each pupil. While she denied having a particular method, she drilled all students in techniques designed to achieve expressive playing and beautiful tone, keeping the fingers close to the keys for evenness and a seamless legato; playing deeply in the keys while using the weight of the forearm and a flexible wrist to achieve a full singing tone without harshness, and controlling tone by higher or lower positions of the wrist.

Among her pupils were Ralph Berkowitz, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Anthony di Bonaventura, Gary Graffman, Abbey Simon, Gilbert Kalish, Jacob Lateiner, Leonard Pennario, Menahem Pressler, and Stanley Babin.

She was the maternal aunt and first teacher of Nicolas Slonimsky.


  1. R. Gerig. Famous Pianists and their Technique (Washington DC, 1974)
  2. G. Graffman. I Really should be Practicing (New York, 1981)
  3. R.D. Schick. The Vengerova System of Piano Playing (University Park, PA, 1982)
  4. J. Rezits. Beloved Tyranna: the Legend and Legacy of Isabelle Vengerova (Bloomington, IN, 1995)

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabelle_Vengerova — Please support Wikipedia.
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19 news items


Mon, 23 Mar 2015 23:56:15 -0700

... degree in French literature from Columbia in 1950 and master's in 1961 from the Juilliard School of Music, where he trained with Adele Marcus, having studied with Robert and Gaby Casadesus from 1946 to 1949 and Isabelle Vengerova from 1944 to 1946.

Corvallis Gazette Times

Corvallis Gazette Times
Tue, 20 Jan 2015 08:38:39 -0800

After graduating Puyallup High School she won the prestigious Claudio Arrau Scholarship that sent her to New York City for four years of study with the renowned Madame Isabelle Vengerova. Joanne was music! Her whole being was intertwined around it ...
North Country Public Radio
Sun, 22 Dec 2013 02:07:30 -0800

And Graffman knows more than a little something about good teachers himself. He studied with greats like Vladimir Horowitz, Rudolf Serkin, and Isabelle Vengerova — the same teacher who also trained Leonard Bernstein. I think it's really interesting to ...

New Yorker

New Yorker
Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:44:34 -0800

In the winter of 1900, six-year-old Nicolas Slonimsky was introduced to the world of popular Russian ditties. “Little bird, what did you do? I drank vodka, so did you,” he would warble to enchanted relatives. Isabelle Vengerova, his aunt, who was a ...
San Francisco Classical Voice
Wed, 05 Dec 2012 17:18:56 -0800

There she studied with the great Isabelle Vengerova, (teacher of Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Anthony di Bonaventura, Gary Graffman, Abbey Simon, Gilbert Kalish, Jacob Lateiner, Leonard Pennario, and Nicholas Slonimsky, her nephew).

Irish Times

Irish Times
Thu, 08 Aug 2013 17:01:20 -0700

Gilbert Kalish, the lauded American pianist whose career started under the tutelage of Isabelle Vengerova, has performed with Upshaw for more than two decades and will be on stage with her in Kilkenny. Upshaw was familiar with Donnacha Dennehy's work ...
Broadway World
Tue, 17 Sep 2013 10:37:41 -0700

Having started piano studies at age four, Mr. Graffman entered The Curtis Institute of Music in 1936 when he was seven as a piano student of Isabelle Vengerova. After graduating from Curtis in 1946, he made his debut with Eugene Ormandy and the ...
Philadelphia Inquirer
Fri, 02 Dec 2011 23:02:36 -0800

Graffman and others studied with Isabelle Vengerova, once described by Graffman as an authoritarian teacher who "sailed around her studio like an over-stuffed battleship in search of the enemy, cannon loaded and ready to fire." Vengerova studied with ...

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