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Frederic Rzewski's 70th Birthday Celebrated with Concerts at Gilmore Festival and Carnegie Hall

April 13 marked the 70th birthday of composer Frederic Rzewski, who, in 2002, performed his own works for piano on a seven-disc collection, Rzewski Plays Rzewski: Piano Works, 1975-1999, released by Nonesuch. This week, the composer will celebrate with three special concert events: tonight and tomorrow as part of the renowned Gilmore Keyboard Festival and this Thursday in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in New York.

Included on the program tonight at the Dalton Center Recital Hall in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and in Zankel Hall on Thursday, is a two-piano version, which Rzewski will perform with Stephen Drury, of "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues," part of the North American Ballads the composer plays on the Nonesuch collection, as well as the premiere of Natural Things, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Gilmore Festival, for which the pianists will be joined by Opus 21.

The Zankel Hall performance is part of Carnegie's Making Music series and will be moderated by Ara Guzelimian, the Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School. For the Gilmore, the composer will play an additional solo recital of his work tomorrow afternoon at the Wellspring Theater at Kalamazoo's Epic Center. Included on that program are Mayn Yingele and De Profundis, both of which are part of the Nonesuch boxed set, as well as the newer piece War Songs.

In the New York Times, Matthew Gurewitsch writes of the 2002 collection that, for all of Rzewski's "anarchic streak," both humorous and political, "what emerges above all is a picture of a pianist enamored of his instrument as handed down by the master builders of the 19th century."

As Daniel R. Gustin, the Gilmore Festival's director, tells Gurewitsch:

Rzewski is in the line of the great pianist-composers like Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn ... He's a bit of a maverick, which is fun, and it's hard to pin him down as to style and approach. But his piano works connect to the great pianistic tradition.

To read the New York Times article, visit

For information on the Gilmore Festival programs, visit; for the Zankel Hall program, visit

Click here to add the seven-disc Rzewski Plays Rzewski boxed set to your Shopping Cart for $44. (MP3 downloads for this set are not currently available from the Nonesuch Store.)