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Leo Ornstein

Leo Ornstein (born Лев Орнштейн, Lev Ornshteyn) (c. December 11, 1895 – February 24, 2002) was a leading American experimental composer and pianist of the early twentieth century. His performances of works by avant-garde composers and his own innovative and even shocking pieces made him a cause célèbre on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ornstein was the first important composer to make extensive use of the tone cluster. As a pianist, he was considered a world-class talent. By the mid-1920s, he had walked away from his fame and soon disappeared from popular memory. Though he gave his last public concert before the age of forty, he continued writing music for another half-century and beyond. Largely forgotten for decades, he was rediscovered in the mid-1970s. Ornstein completed his eighth and final piano sonata in September 1990 at the age of ninety-four, making him the oldest published composer in history (a mark since passed by Elliott Carter).

Birth and Death Data: Born December 11th, 1892 (Kremenchuk), Died February 24th, 2002 (Green Bay)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1913

Roles Represented in DAHR: piano

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia 38833 10-in. 5/10/1913 Butterfly Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38834 10-in. 5/10/1913 Marche mignonne Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38835 10-in. 5/10/1913 Impromptu Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38836 10-in. 5/10/1913 Etude in G flat Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38842 10-in. 5/14/1913 To the spring Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38843 10-in. 5/14/1913 March of the dwarfs Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38844 10-in. 5/14/1913 Nocturne in F sharp major Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38845 10-in. 5/14/1913 Minute waltz in D flat major Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38864 10-in. 5/20/1913 Marche grotesque Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38883 10-in. 5/27/1913 Voices of spring Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38884 10-in. 5/27/1913 Nightingale Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
Columbia 38895 10-in. 6/2/1913 Scherzo in E minor Leo Ornstein Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Ornstein, Leo," accessed December 4, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103502.

Ornstein, Leo. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103502.

"Ornstein, Leo." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 4 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103502

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