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Entrepreneur of the week

Menahem Pressler

Entrepreneur of the Week

Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler is the founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio. The legendary Beaux Arts Trio was founded in 1955, at a time when this type of professional piano trio was previously non-existent. Menahem Pressler, along with all of his Trio colleagues, violinist Daniel Hope and cellist, Antonio Meneses, undoubtedly set the standard for performance of piano trio literature for all future generations. The Beaux Arts Trio has recorded almost the entire chamber literature with piano for Philips. The trio made its first appearance on July 13, 1955, at the Berkshire Music Festival, now known as the Tanglewood Music Center. After 53 years of setting the standard for piano trios around the globe, the last performance of Beaux Arts, on August 24, 2008, was on the same stage at Tanglewood.

In an article with the Boston Globe, Pressler describes the groups early years: 

Unable to land a record deal with a major label, the group made its first recording - trios by Mendelssohn and Dvorak - for the tiny Geneva-based Concert Hall Society label. “The man told us, 'You'll have three hours, and I'll give you a nice dinner. No money,'" Pressler laughs. "Three hours - you have barely enough time to play it through once!"

Eight months later, he got a telegram informing him that the recording had won the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque. Shortly after that, the trio signed with Philips and began making the recordings - more than 60 CDs worth - on which much of its fame rests.

"But without that record we made in three hours, nothing would have happened," he says.

There was also incessant touring. "The pay was so low that unless we could drive to these concerts, we couldn't make ends meet," he says. They even had to stipulate that the distance between gigs could be no more than 500 miles. "Imagine playing in one town, driving 500 miles, and playing the next night. We did it many times.”

Asked how he can keep up such a demanding pace, he replies, "I can only answer with one word that I know: It is love. I was always hungry for music, hungry for music-making. And it has never left me. So even now, it is what drives me and what actually makes me feel alive."

Check out the full Boston Globe article
Check out the Beaux Arts Trio website
Check out Menahem Pressler’s website