Browning comes as close to perfection as one would hope
to hear in this world,” so reported The New York
Times in 1999. It is the intent of this film, Memories
of John Browning: The Lhevinne Legacy Continues,
to capture the ephemeral quality of John Browning’s
extraordinary artistry, portray his charismatic personality,
and observe his interpretive genius as he performs.
John Browning (1933-2003) studied at the Juilliard School
with legendary pianist and master teacher, Rosina Lhevinne.
There he absorbed her philosophy and the principles
of the “Old Russian School,” a rigorous
set of pianistic standards of which he eloquently speaks
and demonstrates in this film.
We hear accounts of Browning’s teaching at the
Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music and how
he carried on Rosina Lhevinne’s tradition to his
students. He is remembered in intimate conversations
with his sister Elizabeth and colleagues and friends:
Martin Canin, David Dubal, Marilyn Horne, Steven Mayer,
Leonard Slatkin, John Williams, and students Mira Armij
Gill and Benjamin Martin. We learn of Browning’s
talent and character from archival tapes of Rosina Lhevinne.
John Browning’s great talent and sensitivity are
on display at close range as he gives complete and ravishingly
beautiful performances of the Rachmaninoff Prelude Op.
32 #5 and Chopin’s Nocturne Op 27 #2. Browning
is also heard performing sections of Samuel Barber’s
Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto, which was written
for and premiered by Browning at the opening of
Lincoln Center in 1962. Audiences then learn the
fascinating story of creation of Barber’s
composition and its performance.
Throughout his life, John Browning gained world-wide
acclaim for his incomparable recitals, concerts and
chamber music performances. His musical legacy continues
in the memories of those who were fortunate to have
heard him and learned from him, through this film, and
in his impressive discography.