A child prodigy, he made his musical debut in Hungary at the end of the 1910's, not long after beginning his piano studies under the direction of his mother, Valéria Ipolyi. As early as 1921 he appeared with Orchestra of the Hungarian Philharmonic Society, the leading symphonic orchestra of the country, playing Mozart's piano concerto in B major at the Academy of Music, where he later became a pupil in Ernő Dohnányi's master school. From 1929 onwards he made regular tours of Europe, before emigrating, in 1939, to the United States, where he was regular soloist with the Detroit Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. In 1957 he returned to Europe, to succeed Walther Gieseking as head of the Piano Department at the Saarbrücken College of Music. Then, from 1961 until his death, he lived in Switzerland. His recordings won Grand Prix de Disque and Hamburg's Deutsche Phonoakademie prize. His large scale book on methodology, Keys to the Keyboard published in New York in 1948, was translated into fourteen languages, appearing in Hungarian, too, under the title Zongoristák kézikönyve (A Manual for Pianists) in 1967.
The initial period of Földes' career was strongly influenced by a number of legendary pianists who were regular visitors to Budapest in the first decades of the 20th century. Among his models Eugéne d'Albert, Sergei Rachmaninov, Joseph Lhévinne and Wilhelm Backhaus, but first and foremost the one-time pupil of Liszt, Emil Sauer. He considered Béla Bartók as his teacher, too: at the age of sixteen he learnt Bartók's Sonatina and played it to the composer. Then, one decade later, the most jealously guarded treasure of Andor Földes when he arrived in America in 1939 was the partitura of Bartók's Second Piano Concerto. Although he wanted to premiere this concerto in America as early as this time, in the end he could only do so after Bartók's death, in 1947. Földes was for many decades on terms of friendship with Zoltán Kodály - it was Földes who wrote piano transcription of the Háry suite -, and was acquainted with Arnold Schönberg, Erich Kleibel, Igor Stravinsky, Alban Berg, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein. From among representatives of other fields of art he knew Oskar Kokosha, Franz Werfell, Thomas Mann, Samuel Beckett, Eugéne Ionesco, Heinrich Böll, and Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and not least the leading scientist of the age Albert Einstein, together with whom he performed chamber music.
In the recent years since Andor Földes' death his archive recordings have been steadily published, and since 1994 his memory has been kept green by a competition: the Andor Földes-Jürg Marquard Piano Competition, held annually for the most talented students from Budapest's Academy of Music.
see also: Andor Földes - composer
Beethoven, Ludvig van: I. (C-dúr) Zongoraverseny Op. 15; V. (Esz-dúr) Zongoraverseny Op. 73
(Beethoven, Ludvig van: Piano Concertos No.1 in C major Op.15 and No.5 in E flat major Op.73)
Bartók Béla: Rapszódia zongorára és zenekarra Op.1; II. zongoraverseny BB 101 /
Földes Andor: Kis szvit vonószenekarra
(Bartók, Béla: Raphsody for Piano and Orchestra Op.1; Piano Concerto No.2 / Földes, Andor: Little Suite for Strings)
|Darmstadt Aural Documents - Box 4.: Pianists