Thursday, March 22, 2012


Wladziu Valentino Liberace was a famous American pianist, vocalist and entertainer. He was born in West Allis, Wisconsin on may 16, 1919 as one of the four children of Salvatore and Frances Liberace. He was raised in a family where music was a constant source of dispute: his dad being musician himself would always strongly encourage music, while his mother saw music as a luxury they could not afford. Nevertheless, his father's huge dedication to music was of major influence for Liberace. At the tender age of four, Liberace was already able to play the piano and by the time he turned seven he had memorized several difficult piano pieces. His prodigious talent was soon indisputable, many regarding him as a child prodigy. At the age of 16 he became a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where he played his first classical piano concerts. During the 1940's he performed in nightclubs throughout the United States, moving away from being a strictly classical musician to become more of an entertainer. His programme could be summed up as "classical music with the boring parts left out". It was at this stage in his career that he established the candelabrum and his pompous Blüthner grand piano as his trademarks, later on also his costumes became more and more extravagant.

In 1950, Liberace made his film debut in the movie "South Sea Sinner" where he played a pianist. A few years later he was discovered by a famous television producer, Don Fedderson. This encounter marked a new era in his life in which he would profile himself as a very talented and successful television host. His first television series debuted in 1952 and barely two years later, it was broadcast on more than 217 American TV-stations as well as in 20 foreign countries, thus making him a world famous TV-host. In 1953, he made a record-breaking appearance before a crowd of 20,000 people in the sold-out “Hollywood Bowl”. By 1955, he was the highest paid entertainer in the history of Las Vegas, making 50,000$ from one performance at the Riviera Hotel. In the late 60's and begin 70's, Liberace flew over the world to perform in London as well as in Australia. In 1972, his best-selling autobiography "Liberace" came out and in 1976 he would realize one of his greatest achievements by founding the Liberace Foundation for the Performing and Creative Arts, an organization that supports young musicians by funding their studies. In 1980, he was acclaimed in Las Vegas as both "Star of the Year" as well as "Entertainment Personality of the Year". His success continued for many years and in the spring of 1984, Liberace signed a contract at New York's famed Radio City Music Hall and broke all attendance records in the history of this concert hall by performing before 80,000 fans. Liberace would talk of this moment as "the fulfillment of a dream and the culmination of my 40 years in show business". In this sense, Liberace became the central pop culture icon in the 1950's and beyond, receiving high critical acclaim. He won 2 Emmy awards, earned six gold albums as well as two stars on the walk of fame in Hollywood. Liberace passed away on February 4, 1987 aged 67 due to the consequences of AIDS.

Marc Sonn and Anthony Jouniaux

1 comment:

Dfrankjazz said...

Thanks for the Liberace blog:) You may enjoy this new master class about him, free:

Blessings and keep swingin!
Dave Frank
Director, Dave Frank School of Jazz, NYC