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Rebecca Penneys

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Rebecca Penneys

Rebecca Penneys (born 1946) is an American-born pianist of Russian-Jewish descent. Penneys is considered a world-class recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral soloist, educator, and adjudicator. In 1965, she was the youngest contestant to have ever entered the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Poland:[1] “A sensational effect was created by the playing of Rebecca Penneys. She is a genius of the piano.”[2]

Early life

Rebecca Penneys was born on October 2, 1946. Her mother, Rose Kaplan Penneys (1912–2010), worked for social causes, and her father, Alexander Penneys (1912–1994), was a radiologist. Sol Kaplan, her uncle, was a pianist-conductor-composer, and her cousin, Boris Gorelick, was an artist. Raised as a prodigy, Penneys grew up in Los Angeles studying piano from the age of 3, and dance from the age of 5. Her primary mentors in California were Carmelita Maracci, dance, Victoria Front and Aube Tzerko, piano, and Leonard Stein, composition. She performed her first solo piano recital at the age of 9 and performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the age of 11. Other mentors were Rosina Lhévinne and Artur Rubinstein.[1]

Education and career

Penneys attended Beverly Hills High School and continued her formal education at Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, studying piano with Gyogry Sebok and Menahem Pressler, chamber music with Janos Starker and Josef Gingold, and composition with Iannis Xenakis. She was awarded the unprecedented Special Critics’ Prize at the SeventhInternational Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, an award created in her honor.[1] She was a top prizewinner in the 1975 Second Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition in Spain.[3] In 1972, she made her New York debut at Alice Tully Hall. The same year she was appointed to the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 1974, she founded the New Arts Trio at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (with Carol Sindell, violin and Hamilton Cheifetz, cello). The Trio won the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music in 1980 (with Piotr Janowski, violin and Steven Doane, cello).[4] As of 2010 the members of the New Arts Trio are Jacques Israelievitch, violin and Arie Lipsky, cello. The Trio has been Trio-in-Residence at the Chautauqua Institution since 1978 and has made two United States Information Agency Cultural State Department tours of Europe in 1985 and 1987. Penneys made a USIS State Department solo tour of Japan in 1980. She has taught and performed in such summer festivals as Sitka, Marlboro, Eastern, Aspen, Vermont Mozart, Montreal, Shawnigan Johannesen, Tel Hai Israel, Peninsula, Roycroft, Mammoth Lakes, and Music Mountain.

Current professional life

Penneys has been professor of piano at the Eastman School of Music since 1980[1] and chairwoman of the Chautauqua Institution Piano Department since 1985.[5] She has been a resident artist at the Chautauqua Festival since 1978. In 2001 she was appointed visiting artist at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1999 she founded the Salon Chamber Music Series, a five concert series with Misha Kopelman, violin and Stefan Reuss, cello. In 2010 she co-founded and became artistic chair of the Steinway Society of Tampa Bay. As a teacher, she received recognition for teaching a keyboard technique (Motion and Emotion) that allows pianists to achieve individual performance goals without physical strain or injury. Combining a busy concert schedule with seminars and master classes worldwide, she teaches international students at Eastman School of Music. Her current and former students include prizewinners in international competitions, and hold teaching posts on every continent. Penneys is a Steinway Artist and has given special concerts for Steinway & Sons.[6]


Solo recordings

Centaur Records:

  • Voice of the Piano CRC 2159
  • Complete Chopin Etudes CRC 2210

Fleur De Son Classics:

  • All Brahms FDS 57938
  • Chautauqua Gems from Chautauqua FDS 67956
  • Music of the Dance FDS
  • An Eastman Recital FDS 57968
  • Rebecca Penneys & Steinway FDS 57971

Trio recordings

Fleur De Son Classics:

  • Beethoven Arrangements for Piano Trio FDS 57931
  • New Arts Trio in Recital FDS 57957
  • New Arts Trio: 30th Anniversary Recital FDS 58000
  • Society For Chamber Music; New Arts Trio: Beethoven Archduke SCMR 0005—1998
  • Rochester Academy Of Medicine; Centennial Concert 2001


  • “Fundamentals of Flow in Learning Music” by Rebecca Penneys & Ray Gottlieb (1993–1994)
  • "Harmful Practices That Cause Injuries"
  • Clavier Magazine, The Instrumentalist (1994)
  • "Motion and Emotion", Clavier Magazine, The Instrumentalist (1992)
  • "For Carmelita", Leaflets – University of Rochester (1991)
  • Guest Editor, Seminars in Neurology, Thieme Publications, New York (1989)
  • "Motion and Emotion: A Discussion of the Interaction Between Physical Motion and Human Emotion", Seminars in Neurology, Thieme Publications (1989)
  • "Maachem" (1979)


External links

  • Rebecca Penneys official website
  • Chautauqua Festival, Piano Chair
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