David Saperton Collection
David Saperton (1889-1970) was born David Sapirstein in Pittsburgh, PA, and made his debut in that city at age 10. His New York debut was at the age of 15, after which he studied in Europe with August Spanuth and was also a member of Ferruccio Busoni’s “circle” in Berlin. Upon returning to the US he met Leopold Godowsky, who left a major imprint on Saperton’s pianistic outlook. Saperton married Godowsky’s daughter Vanita in 1921, and he frequently offered Godowsky’s original works and transcriptions on his recital programs. In 1924 he joined the faculty of the newly-formed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and retained that position until 1941. During his Curtis tenure he served as assistant to the school’s director, Josef Hofmann. Among the more noted pianists who Saperton taught during this period were Shura Cherkassky, Jorge Bolet, Abbey Simon, Sidney Foster, and Seymour Lipkin. After leaving Curtis, Saperton established a private studio in his New York home at 344 West 72nd Street, where his other prominent pupils included Julius Katchen and William Masselos.
Saperton composed a number of effective piano pieces, among which are several in boogie-woogie style, and he also wrote a sophisticated, Godowskyesque paraphrase of Gershwin’s “Bess, You is My Woman Now,” recently recorded on CD by Jenny Lin. After the 1930s Saperton’s public performances were infrequent, but he left a recorded legacy that includes discs made for RCA Victor in 1941, for the Command Performance LP label in 1952, and for Kapp Records in 1958. These recordings include not only the complete Chopin Etudes, but also a varied selection of Godowsky works. A CD reissue of most of Saperton’s recordings is available on the VAI label. Until a revival of interest in Godowsky began in the 1980s, Saperton, in the words of Abram Chasins, “alone had both the will and the skill to play and record a sizable number of Godowsky’s compositions.”
The Saperton Collection consists of scores, including published and unpublished works by Saperton, programs, reviews, photographs, correspondence, together with legal and financial documents.