Ania Dorfmann

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Ania Dorfmann (9 July 1899 – 21 April 1984) was a Russian-born American pianist and teacher, who taught at the Juilliard School in New York for many years and was the first of only a very few women pianists to play or record under Arturo Toscanini.


Ania Dorfmann was born in Odessa, Russia (now in Ukraine) in 1899, the daughter of a merchant. She gave her first concert at the age of 11. Around this time she accompanied the even younger Jascha Heifetz.[1][2] In 1916-17 she studied in Paris with Isidor Philipp at the Conservatoire de Paris,[3][4] then returned to Russia to find it in the midst of revolution. She returned to France in 1920, commenced her professional career in Belgium,[3] and played throughout Europe and Britain for the next 15 years, under such conductors as Willem Mengelberg, Sir Thomas Beecham and Sir Henry Wood.[5] She made her home in London during this time.[4] Among the artists she appeared with in Britain were John McCormack[6][7] and Heddle Nash.[8]

She made her New York debut in 1936 at the Town Hall,[1] and played there again in 1938 and 1939. She was the first female pianist ever engaged as a soloist by Arturo Toscanini,[1][9] under whom she played Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with his NBC Symphony Orchestra on 2 December 1939, the only time Toscanini ever programmed that work.[10] They later played all the Beethoven piano concertos,[1][11] and recorded the First Concerto in 1945 (there is also a recording of a live performance from 1939).[10] She settled in the United States in 1938,[4] touring and recording. Her agent at that time was David Rubin.[12] Her appearances included concerts under Serge Koussevitzky.[13]

In 1947 Ania Dorfmann worked intensively with the actress Barbara Stanwyck, who was making the film The Other Love, in which she played a concert pianist.[14] Although Ania Dorfmann played the piano music heard on screen, she had Stanwyck practise for three hours a day to make her actions match the music.[15]

In 1956[1] (some sources say 1966) she joined the piano faculty of the Juilliard School, where she remained for most of the rest of her life.[4][5] Ania Dorfmann's students included Lev Natochenny,[16] Solveig Funseth,[17] Minuetta Kessler,[18] Raymond Jackson,[19] Suezenne Fordham,[20] Roman Markowicz,[21] Robert Shannon,[22] and Marian Migdal.[23]

She retired in June 1983 and died on 21 April 1984, aged 84.[24]

Personal life[edit]

She was the wife of Vladimir Dorfmann, a Russian businessman she met in Paris. Their daughter, Natacha Ullman (1929-1986), was a writer who used the pen name Natacha Stewart; she was the author of "Evil Eye and Other Stories", and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Natacha had two sons, Nicolas and Alex Ullman.[25]


Ania Dorfmann made a number of recordings primarily for RCA Victor, some of the most notable of which were:


  1. ^ a b c d e
  2. ^ Highbeam Research
  3. ^ a b The News and Courier, 23 October 1953
  4. ^ a b c d Juilliard School
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Naxos
  6. ^ Glasgow Herald, 22 September 1932
  7. ^ McCormack Society
  8. ^ Dartington Hall Trust Archived 14 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Some sources say Ania Dorfmann was the only woman pianist who ever played under Toscanini, but Maria Carreras played Beethoven's Triple Concerto under him with the New York Philharmonic (Michel Piastro, violin and Alfred Wallenstein, cello) more than once in the 1932/33 season and Dame Myra Hess played Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 under him on 24 November 1946. (Frank, pp. 86-87)
  10. ^ a b Mortimer H Frank, Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years, pp. 122-123
  11. ^ radiogoldindex
  12. ^ New York Times, 10 May 2003
  13. ^ Boston Symphony Orchestra concert programs, Season 63, 1943-1944 Archived 14 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ IMdB: The Other Love
  15. ^ TCM: The Other Love
  16. ^ D magazine Archived 31 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Det Virtuelle Musikbibliothek". Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  18. ^ The Boston Composers Project: A Bibliography of Contemporary Music
  19. ^ cbschurch Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Fordham
  21. ^ "Polish Music Newsletter". Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  22. ^ New World Records Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ National Taiwan Normal University Archived 14 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ New York Times, 23 April 1984
  25. ^ New York Times, 19 April 1986
  26. ^ ebay
  27. ^ Amazon
  28. ^ a b c University of Maryland
  29. ^ classics today
  30. ^ General Pause
  31. ^ a b cd universe
  32. ^ classical notes: Frederic Chopin Waltzes
  33. ^ a b c d audiophile audition
  34. ^ a b c Miami University Libraries
  35. ^ Classics Online Archived 23 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine