Alfred Cortot

From Academic Kids

Alfred Denis Cortot (September 26, 1877June 15, 1962) was a French pianist and conductor.

Born in Nyon in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Cortot studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Emile Descombes (said to have been a pupil of Chopin) and Louis Dimer, taking a premier prix in 1896. He made his debut at the Concerts Colonne in 1897, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3. Between 1898 and 1901 he was a choral coach, and subsequently assistant conductor, at the Bayreuth Festspiele, and in 1902 he conducted the Paris premiere of Gtterdmmerung by Wagner. He formed a concert society to perform Wagner's Parsifal, Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, and new works by French composers.

In 1905, Cortot formed a trio with Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals, which established itself as the leading piano trio of its era. From 1907 to 1923 Cortot taught at the Paris Conservatoire, where his pupils included Haskil, Perlemuter and Yvonne Lefbure. In 1919 he founded the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. His courses in musical interpretation were famous. He toured as a pianist all over the world, also appearing as guest conductor of many orchestras. He died in Lausanne.

Controversially, he supported the Vichy regime (he played in Nazi-sponsored concerts, for example) in France during the Second World War, which led to him being declared persona non grata after the end of the war. His motivations for doing this have been disputed, but he was banned from performing publicly for a year, and his public image in France suffered greatly.

As a pianist, Cortot was particularly noted for his interpretations of Frdric Chopin and Robert Schumann, and he made editions of both those composers' music. Many connoiseurs consider him to be the greatest interpreter of their works. Although he was possibly most famous for his wrong notes, the musicality of his performances is virtually unrivalled (it has been said that while he got many of his notes wrong, he also got them more right than any other pianist).

Cortot was among the very greatest musicians of the century and represented the end of an era. He is considered the last exponent of a personal, subjective style that deprecated precise technique in favor of intuition, interpretation and authentic spirit. This approach was replaced by the modern "scientific" way of playing, which places logic and precision at the forefront and equates authenticity with metronomic and literal "interpretations". Cortot's recordings are highly valuable documents.


  • Cortot, Alfred, La musique franaise de piano, 193048
  • —, Cours dinterprtation, 1934 (Studies in Musical Interpretation, 1937)
  • —, Aspects de Chopin, 1949 (In Search of Chopin, 1951)
  • Gavoty, Bernard Alfred Cortot, 1977 (French)
  • Manshardt, Thomas, Aspects of Cortot, 1994de:Alfred Cortot



Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools