Emil von Sauer

The Complete Commercial Recordings


Viewed by many as the greatest of all Liszt's pupils, Emil von Sauer was completely devoted to his art. His technical and interpretive prowess was revered by critics and dignitaries around the world. This 3-CD set is the most complete Sauer compilation ever assembled. It consists of his complete commercial recordings and contains some of the rarest 78 rpm material ever compiled on disc including ten sides which are known to exist in only one copy.

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A Note From Ward Marston

The records of Emil von Sauer were first brought to my attention during a visit to the International Piano Archive in 1974 by it’s founder and then director Gregor Benko. I suppose I was a typical piano enthusiast, in that I had come to the archive to hear the recordings of Josef Hofmann, Alfred Cortot, Ignaz Friedman, and the like. During my visit, Mr. Benko asked me offhandedly if I was familiar with von Sauer’s recordings. I replied somewhat sheepishly that I had never heard even a note of von Sauer’s playing, but would be eager to do so. Mr. Benko told me that a hitherto unknown recording of von Sauer playing Schumann’s Carnaval had recently been discovered, and, would I like to hear it? I, of course, replied that indeed I would, though I must admit, being a record collector, my interest was probably peaked more by the rarity of the recording than the prospect of hearing a pianist whose name I barely knew. At first, I was thrown off by the abridgments in the recording, especially the missing repeated sections. But I listened with great interest, for as the performance progressed I became enthralled with von Sauer’s warmth of tone. But it wasn’t until subsequent listening sessions at the Piano Archive that I began to perceive that von Sauer possessed far more than just a beautiful tone. I was gradually drawn to von Sauer’s playing by a subtle yet palpable quality of aristocratic elegance that pervades his recorded output. My admiration for his pianism grew with each listening. Since very little of Emil von Sauer was available on LP reissue, I ingenuously thought that I would try to acquire all of his 78 rpm discs. I soon realized many of his 78s are among the rarest instrumental records and acquiring Sauer complete would be an unlikely quest. However, the desire to hear Sauer’s complete commercial recordings became the genesis of this release.

As is often the case, some of the rarest records are an artists’ first recordings. Sauer’s first recordings were made in Spain for Regal, the Spanish branch of the Columbia Phonograph Company. Until ten years ago, there were only three known Regal records of von Sauer, each existing in a single copy. However, two more Regal recordings have surfaced, once again, one copy of each. Since no one I know has ever seen catalogue listings for any of von Sauer’s Regal discs, it is impossible to determine how many more may have been recorded. In presenting these discs, I have arranged them in matrix order except for the first two items which I have switched because I feel the Mozart selection provides a more satisfying opening for the set. Unfortunately, none of the extant Regal discs is in perfect condition. I have tried to eliminate as much distortion as possible by using a variety of styli and some judicious filtering.

The recordings which von Sauer made for Vox and Pathé are also quite scarce and are greatly prized by collectors worldwide. It is also interesting to note that von Sauer’s electrical German Columbia LWX 381 which contains Schubert’s Moment Musical in A-flat, op. 94, no. 2; Moment Musical in F Minor, op. 94, no. 3; and Chopin’s Etude in F Minor, op. 25, no. 2, exists in only two or three copies. I am therefore most grateful to the collectors who have generously supplied me with these rarest of piano recordings. This is the first time that all of Emil von Sauer’s commercial recordings have been reissued, and every effort has been made to find the best possible copies for remastering. Scrupulous attention has been paid to the accurate pitching of each disc, and when necessary, sides have been joined to achieve musical continuity.