José Iturbi

Active - 1943 - 1949  |   Born - Nov 28, 1895   |   Died - Jan 1, 1980   |   Genres - Musical, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Of Basque descent, Jose Iturbi trained for a musical career in Spain, Malta and Paris. By the time he was 12, he was playing piano in Spanish cabarets, and upon reaching his early adulthood he supported himself as a silent-movie accompanist. From 1919 to 1923, Iturbi was head of the music department of the Conservatory of Geneva. In the U.S. from 1929, he spent eight years as conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic. From the early 1940s onward, Iturbi made his mission to broaden the popularity of Classic musical. He appeared in several MGM films, usually cast as himself, even when playing a straight dramatic role in the Jeannette MacDonald vehicle Three Daring Daughters (1948). Though he gained pop-chart prominence with his Spanish-flavored compositions, Iturbi's biggest success during his Hollywood years was his adaptation of Chopin's "Polonaise in A Minor" for the 1945 film A Song to Remember. Jose Iturbi was the brother of actress Amparo Iturbi.

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