The First Piano Quartet was a quartet of pianists first organized in the United States in 1941. Its founding members were Vladimir Padwa, Franz Mittler, Adam Garner, and Edward Edson. The quartet was originally conceived of as a radio group. It made its New York concert debut in 1949.
The quartet toured extensively with their four Steinway pianos during the late 1950s, and made recordings in the 1940s and 1950s. Most of its arrangements were made by Adam Garner.
By 1950, Padwa was replaced by George Robert. In the early 1950s, Glauco D'Attili became the latest member. D'Attili, a former child prodigy from Rome was brought to the United States in 1927 by Benjamino Gigli and was probably the most well-known of the group. He appeared, along with Edward Edson, Adam Garner, and Frank Mittler, in two movie shorts for 20th Century Fox in 1954, The First Piano Quartette and Piano Encores. Both were directed by Otto Lang, and The First Piano Quartette was nominated for an academy award in 1954 in the category Best Short Subject, One-reel. The group also appeared on both The Ed Sullivan Show (Episode #7.30) and The Lawrence Welk Show.
In the mid-1950s D'Attili was replaced by William Gunther (Sprecher) and the quartet renamed itself to the Original Piano Quartet. The quartet appeared under its new name at Town Hall, New York on March 29, 1962.
In 1970 William Gunther asked Rami Bar-Niv to replace him in the quartet. Bar-Niv was part of the quartet until he returned to Israel in 1972. That, more or less, marked the end of the career of this group. Anecdotically, William Gunther and Rami Bar-niv were next-window neighbors in Tel-Aviv, Israel; Edward Edson and Rami Bar-Niv were neighbors in Queens, NYC.
D'Attili, the last surviving original member of the quartet, died in autumn of 2007.
The First Piano Quartet's collection of music is housed in the Music Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
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