Idil Biret’s first concert in the United States took place in Boston. Following a suggestion by Nadia Boulanger, Biret received an invitation from Boston Symphony Orchestra to perform a series of concerts in November 1963 in Boston, New York and other cities.
At the time of the invitation Charles Munch was the conductor of the Boston Symphony. In 1963 he was replaced by Eric Leinsdorf who went on to conduct Biret’s concerts.
The program Biret chose was Rachmaninov’s 3rd piano concerto, one of the most difficult in the repertory. This concerto had been performed by the Boston Symphony in the past with Rachmaninov (1919, 1935), Horowitz (1928, 1941, 1944, 1948), Malcuzyinski (1947) and Byron Janis (1957).
The first concert of Biret was scheduled to take place on November 22nd at 14.00 hrs.
Many years later Idil Biret described the events which took place on the day of the concert to Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe as follows:
“My birthday is the 21st of November, so the orchestra played ‘Happy Birthday’ to me at the rehearsal and everything was going perfectly. The afternoon of the concert I felt something was unusual, but I didn’t know what it was. Mr. Leinsdorf, looking very pale, came into my room and said, ‘Ah, there you are,’ and then walked out. His secretary came in and sat down, but she was in a very strange state, but she didn’t say anything either. Then my father came in and told me that President Kennedy had been shot and that there was some question about whether we would continue with the concert or not. But Mr. Cabot, the chairman of the board of the orchestra, went out onto the stage and said that the day he lost his father he attended a concert and found consolation in it, and hoped the audience would find solace in this music. Everyone was in a terrible state, but we played the concerto anyway; it was a very tragic debut.”
In his article which appeared in the Boston Globe on 20 September 2000 Richard Dyer continued to say:
“The BSO added the funeral march from Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony to the program. Margo Miller, writing in the Globe, praised the 22-year-old pianist for her depth of touch, dynamics, lyricism, and “rapture of youth,” and a cassette of the event confirms the review. Despite the circumstances and Leinsdorf’s precipitous tempi, Biret’s pianistic equilibrium is never disturbed, and her emotional fires blaze away, unbanked.”
This historic performance was broadcast live from Boston which was recorded.
Unfortunately we only had a very noisy recording of this historic event which was recorded before noise-reduction methods such as Dolby were available.
In the digital remastering (without professional studio equipment), effort was made to minimize the inherent noise; radical methods were not used in order to preserve the full-frequency content of the original mono recording. Therefore, some noise (esp. the surface noise within the first five minutes on the B side of the record) may be experienced in reproduction on wide-range equipment.