Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Joseph Rackers


Samuil Feinberg (1899-1962), a modern day Liszt, has not been given the credit he deserves. Living under the Stalin Regime, he was neglected and repressed. This pianist, composer and pedagogue lived an artistic life that is worth studying and reviving. Heavily influenced compositionally by Scriabin, Feinberg played an important role in continuing the Russian revolutionary avant-garde style between 1915 and 1930. Feinberg went through two compositional periods, the first being a more virtuosic experimental style and the second a more conservative, contrapuntal and folk influenced style. Feinberg had a deep connection to Bach and transcribed many of his pieces in the romantic style. Feinberg’s own compositions are mainly for piano solo and also include several songs and three piano concertos.

Feinberg is regarded as one of the greatest Russian pianists of the 20th century, a man who never compromised his compositional style and intentions. Feinberg always stayed true to the text he was performing. His recordings are a testament to the “goldenage” style of playing also represented by Godowsky, Paderewski, Neuhaus and Rachmaninoff. The “Golden-Age” style of piano playing started from Paderewski at the end of the 19th century and continued until the mid 20th century. “Golden-Age” piano playing is characterized by the effects created at the piano by the great pianists of this time. The main features of “Golden-Age” pianists included a bel-canto singing style, tonal and timbre variety, virtuosity, melodic long lines, flexibility, improvisational style, and rhythmic freedom. 1 Feinberg’s contributions to the Russian piano school are immense, himself being a protégé to Goldenweiser at the Moscow Conservatory and later training future russian pianists. Feinberg’s pedagogical legacy is also continued through his book “Pianism as Art”, which he requested to have published posthumously. Feinberg always stressed the importance of the organic connection between the artist and his art, never separating the two.

This paper focuses on Feinberg’s life, legacy, performance style, compositional style, and includes translated interviews/correspondence with and about Feinberg that give a clear impression of him and his pedagogical teachings. Multiple appendices with significant details regarding Feinberg are included. These include his extensive discography (both his performances of works of other composers and other performers recordings of his compositions), a catalog of works and sample concert programs. The author includes an analysis of material in the appendices; including Feinberg’s interviews, correspondence and pedagogical writings. Further analyses are included of Feinberg’s playing through his recordings. The author hopes that this discovery of Samuil Feinberg, the pianist, composer and pedagogue, will further aid his historical legacy and bring more attention to his music.


© 2017, Solomon Eichner