In the Swiss city of Zürich he was well-known. For the satirical political revues performed in the theatre Cornichon he wrote stage music at a time when National Socialism was raging in Europe. Apart from that, he knew how to entertain on the highest level as a master of improvisation: Nico Kaufmann, pianist and composer, was born on June 24, 1916, and died on November 24, 1996. Interestingly enough, he was Vladimir Horowitz’s only student during his time in Europe – a fact not mentioned by Horowitz-biographers Glenn Plaskin and Harold C. Schonberg.
Kaufmann’s interpretative achievements were generally acknowledged, for example by him winning the national piano competition of Geneva in 1945. In contrast to that, his compositions remained widely unknown. Although Kaufmann’s pieces for ballet from the late fourties and fifties were performed on various tours all across the USA and Europe and were produced for the first time on stages such as the Dutch Opera in Amsterdam (“Niederländische Oper Amsterdam“), they finally were forgotten, which is also true for the numerous pieces of stage music that he wrote for the Züricher Schauspielhaus, among others.
Kaufmann’s Liederzyklus für hohe Stimme
und Klavier (Song Cycle for high voice
and piano), composed at the end
of the 1950s on the basis of poems by Hermann
Hesse, remained unknown. This piece proving his
compositional abilities has now been published
in print for the first time – after more than