Pianist Paul Badura-Skoda was one of the most accomplished and revered pianists of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Through his concerts, recordings, and in his work with youth organizations, Badura-Skoda taught and imparted the knowledge he gained through his lifetime of performing.
Badura-Skoda was born in Vienna on October 6, 1927. As a youth, he studied piano with Viola Thern and Otto Schulhof. In 1948, he graduated with distinction for piano and conducting from the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien and began studying piano with Edwin Fischer, who would be his teacher and mentor until Fischer's death in 1960.
Badura-Skoda's professional career began in 1949 when he performed concertos with conductors Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan. When Fischer grew ill in 1950, Badura-Skoda substituted for him at the Salzburg Festival, leading to wider recognition. This same year found Badura-Skoda begin his recording career, in large part due to a new recording medium, the long-playing record. In 1952, he launched his international performing career with tours of Australia and the Americas. He also toured throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Badura-Skoda made his New York debut in 1953 to a capacity recital audience only familiar with him through his recordings. In 1970, he toured throughout the world performing all 32 complete Beethoven sonatas for the Beethoven bicentennial. Similarly, he toured the world in 1991 performing 140 concerts of Mozart's music.
As his career developed, Badura-Skoda experimented with period instruments with the interest of comparing the sound of historical instruments with that of the modern. He recorded the complete sonatas of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert on modern and period instruments. While he was mostly known for his performances of Viennese classicists, his repertoire extended well beyond to Bach, Brahms, Debussy, and Frank Martin. He and Martin developed a friendship that led to Martin composing two works for the pianist, the Piano Concerto No. 2 and Fantasy on Flamenco Rhythms.
A lifelong friendship with Jörg Demus turned into a successful piano, 4 hands duo. Together, they recorded several albums and performed together in concert. Along with performing together, Badura-Skoda and Demus wrote the book Die Klaviersonaten von Ludwig van Beethoven. Another influential relationship in Badura-Skoda's life was with his wife, musicologist Eva Badura-Skoda. Together, the Badura-Skodas published Mozart-Interpretation and Bach-Interpretation, concerning issues with performing the works of these composers. Paul Badura-Skoda passed away in Vienna on September 25, 2019.
Badura-Skoda's recording career contained a vast number of releases, from the 1950s LPs that launched his international career to complete cycles on multiple period instruments. He recorded for many labels, including Deutsche Grammophon, RCA, and Arcana. In 2019, Badura-Skoda was heard on the album Schubert: Klaviertrios with Boris Pergamenschikow and Wolfgang Schneiderhan, on Gramola.