Today: McKeldin 8:00AM - 11:00PM - Late Night Study begins Sunday 2/6

Earl Wild Collection

Virtuoso pianist Earl Wild was born in Pittsburgh in 1915 and was recognized as one of the last in a long line of pianist/composers. He began his studies at the age of three and was nurtured in the romantic traditions of piano playing through his studies with Scharwenka pupil Selmar Jansen, Busoni pupil Egon Petri and Ravel pupil Paul Doguereau. Wild’s musical personality was also significantly shaped by pianists he heard in his youth such as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ignace Paderewski and Vladimir de Pachmann. Wild served as the pianist for the NBC Symphony Orchestra from 1937 to 1944 where he became the first American pianist to perform on television (1939) and the soloist for the only performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue ever conducted by Arturo Toscanini (1942). Wild’s many performances of the Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F earned him wide recognition as a Gershwin interpreter during the early portion of his career.

Photograph, Earl Wild, pianistWild made his New York debut at Town Hall in 1944 in a program that featured works by Haydn, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Medtner. A subsequent Town Hall concert in 1954 and other concerts in the 1950s began to establish Wild as a sovereign interpreter of the music of Liszt. Wild’s identification with Liszt reached its pinnacle with a series of recitals given in 1986 in honor of the centenary of Liszt’s death. Wild’s triad of Liszt concerts, entitled “Liszt the Poet”, “Liszt the Transcriber” and “Liszt the Virtuoso” were given at Carnegie Hall as well as many other concert halls in the United States and abroad to critical acclaim. Wild’s recitals and appearances with orchestras were weighted heavily toward the romantic repertoire and he frequently performed All-Chopin or All-Liszt recitals. Wild also revived neglected concertos by Scharwenka  and Paderewski, and he championed other lesser known romantic composers such as Medtner. Wild played a significant role in reviving the programming of piano transcriptions, a practice that had largely fallen out of favor in the middle 20th century. Wild’s November 1981 concert at Carnegie Hall called “The Art of Transcription” featured only transcriptions, including works transcribed by Liszt, Sgambati, Thalberg and Wild himself. Transcriptions appeared regularly on Wild’s programs, including his own highly effective virtuoso transcriptions of songs by Rachmaninoff and Gershwin. In addition to transcriptions, Wild also composed original works, including Revelations (1962), an Easter oratorio that was subsidized and premiered by ABC television, a set of variations for piano and orchestra on themes by Stephen Foster nick-named “Doo-Dah” Variations (1992) and a Piano Sonata (2000).

As a performer, Wild was praised for his virtuoso technique, which he maintained throughout a long concert career that continued until his 90th year, and for his flexible treatment of rhythm which hearkened back to the playing of “golden age” pianists. Earl Wild accumulated an extensive discography including recordings of over 30 concertos and 400 solo piano pieces. He won a Grammy award for “Best  Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra” (1997) for his CD recording “The Romantic Master”. As a teacher, Wild held positions at the Eastman School of Music, Pennsylvania State University, the Juilliard School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon University. Earl Wild died on January 23rd, 2010. A Walk on the Wild Side, an extensive memoir by Earl Wild was published by the Ivory Classics Foundation in 2011.


I. Performance Files

  • Concert programs, reviews
  • Articles, interviews
  • Record reviews

II. Subject Files

  • Biographical Files
  • Awards, special events

III. Correspondence

IV. Compositions

  • Research material on Wild transcriptions
  • Programs, articles

V. Teaching / Adjudication

VI. Photographs