Edward Aldwell Bio

1938 - 2006

About Edward

Edward Aldwell was an American pianist, music theorist and pedagogue. He received wide critical acclaim for his recordings of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (Nonesuch), French Suites (Haenssler Classics), the Goldberg Variations ( BWV 988 ), the French Ouverture, and The Art of Fugue ( BWV 1080 ) (Biddulph), as well as a disc of Hindemith's Ludus T onalis along with works of Faure (Pro Piano). On the concert platform, he was awkward, bashful, and boyish yet also immensely authoritative. His playing of Bach was notable for emotional intensity, clarity of detail, vigor and flexibility of rhythm, imagination, variety of articulation, and an unrivalled ability to give each voice in a fugue or contrapuntal passage its own weight and character. He didn't want to be typecast as a Bach specialist, however, and his explorations of music by later composers were equally distinctive. He was particularly fond of the Chopin Mazurkas.

Edward Aldwell was a distinguished teacher of piano, music theory and analysis at the Mannes College of Music in New York and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. As a theorist, he was an expert in Schenkerian analysis, and he was the co-author (with Carl Schachter) of one of the standard theory textbooks used throughout the world, Harmony and Voice Leading (first published in 1979). This book has been translated into Chinese and many European languages. Deeply committed to teaching analysis which enhances performance, he has appeared throughout the world in master-classes and lecture-recitals which have generally focused on the keyboard works of J. S. Bach.

Edward Aldwell was born into an Army family in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in Sonora, Texas. His first exposure to Bach came when an issue of Consumer Reports Magazine recommended the new recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Acquiring those LP's launched him on a voyage of discovery that continued the rest of his life. He received his early musical training in Texas, and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before finally reaching his permanent musical home, New York City. There, he received both the Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees from The Juilliard School, studying under the legendary piano guru Adele Marcus. Later, as a recipient of the Marie Dring Prize, Aldwell was afforded the opportunity to extensively study the keyboard works of J.S. Bach. He also began studying theory with his future co-author, Carl Schachter. Subsequently, the pianist received an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant for analysis and performance of Bach's keyboard music.


Richard Dyer, Boston Globe, June 3, 2006

"Edward Aldwell was both a theoretician who analyzed music and a pianist who performed it with high distinction."

"Teaching piano and classroom teaching of theory represent different ways of looking at music, but they are more the same than people think," he told The Globe in a 1998 interview. "My experience in theory makes it possible to explain in a more clear way what is happening in the music; too much piano teaching is about the surface dimensions of performance without exploring the reasons why you are doing anything."

Vivien Schweitzer, The Philadelfia Inquirer, 31 May 2006

He received an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant for analysis and performance of Bach's keyboard music and made his New York debut performing Book I of the The Well-Tempered Clavier. He gave many recitals devoted to Bach, and was scheduled to give an all-Bach recital in February 2007 at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Hall. A 1987 review in the New York Times of a Bach performance described him as “an unusual artist who knows how to transmute scholarship into passionate performance.”

EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, The New York Times, April 29, 1992

Edward Aldwell Offers His Perspective on Bach's 'Art of Fugue It is always a privilege to hear Bach's "Art of Fugue." This music was almost consciously archaic at the time of its composition, a compilation of techniques that must have seemed quaintly academic to some listeners in 1750 (Edward Aldwell' has a good sense of musical structure and voicing, supported by his use of Schenkerian analysis, a technique for dissecting form and line that can provide telling insights for performance. And in fact, during these fugues, one clearly heard each theme's entrance and the nature of its transformations; each climax was well prepared and sensibly executed.

Harvard pianist and musicologist Prof. Robert Levin

Coordinater of the Haenssler's Bach keyboard project, generously said that he had chosen Edward Aldwell to record the French Suites because "he plays Bach better than anyone else"

Conductor Stefan Lano in an interview

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three CDs would you most want to have?
Bach WTC1 and 2 performed by Edward Aldwell
Mahler IX Bernstein with Berlin
Philharmonic Wagner Meistersinger Solti with CSO