Brazilian-born, but of French extraction, Magda Tagliaferro became a distinguished exponent of French music. A disciple of pianist Alfred Cortot, she strove for the realization of the musical ideals exemplified by Cortot: clarity and tenderness, inner strength and emotion, and classical balance in shaping the works being performed. Tagliaferro played with convincing eloquence into her late years, undertaking at age 90 a demanding series of concerts in several major music centers. As a teacher, she saw several of her students embark upon important careers. Tagliaferro's father was a French engineer assigned to South America on a government mission. He remained in Brazil after completion of his assignment and pursued the study of music, becoming a well-established pianist by the time of Magda's birth. The child's first lessons were, therefore, from her father. At the age of nine, Tagliaferro made her debut in São Paulo performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. A year later, Tagliaferro was taken to France to enter the Paris Conservatoire. After studies with Antonin Marmontel, she advanced to a recital that was awarded with a first prize for piano performance. Beginning during this same period, she studied with Cortot and continued to take lessons from the famed pianist for some time into the future. Shortly after graduation from the Conservatoire, Tagliaferro initiated her career with a series of tours. Her commanding ease in the French repertory led Gabriel Fauré to request that she tour with him, performing several of his compositions. During the next two decades, her recital engagements took her to the music centers of more than 30 countries in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. Scarcely less active as a soloist with celebrated orchestras, Tagliaferro appeared with the elite of the conducting fraternity, among them Weingartner, Dobroven, Monteux, Furtwängler, Knappertsbusch, Paray, d'Indy, Inghelbrecht, and Georgescu. Other solo artists of the order of Cortot, Thibaud, Enescu, and Casals were pleased to perform with her in joint recital. Composers, too, sought her for the premieres of works they had written, sometimes specifically intending that Tagliaferro be the artist to give birth to the piece. The artist gave serious application to performances of new works by such composers as Hahn, Rivier, Pierné, and Villa-Lobos. Having established herself so thoroughly elsewhere, Tagliaferro made arrangements for her American debut in 1941. The onset of war in Europe, however, prompted her to advance her plans to provide for travel by air in December 1939. On March 9, 1940, Tagliaferro made her debut performing the Schumann piano concerto (a Cortot specialty, one might add) with the New York Philharmonic. Hailed for her intelligence and maturity in that performance, she won further praise for her recital of French works less than a month later. Having been an instructor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1937 to the eve of her departure for America, Tagliaferro turned once more to pedagogy in her native Brazil as she awaited the end of hostilities in Europe. Several years after the end of WWII, Tagliaferro resumed her performing career in Europe while continuing to devote considerable time to teaching. She established a piano competition and won new respect as a probing, yet thoughtful instructor of master classes. The capacity for beautifully crafted playing she retained at the age of 90 brought adulatory reviews in Europe, New York, and South America.
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