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Piano recital by Adolph Baller students scheduled for Nov. 12

The Music Guild will present a recital featuring students of Adolph Baller, the late pianist and faculty member, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Dinkelspiel Auditorium.

Billed as "A Tribute to Adolph Baller," the program will feature works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Tickets are $20 and are available at the Stanford Ticket Office, (650) 725-2787, or by mail from the Music Guild, Braun Music Center, Stanford, CA 94301-3076 (please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope). Anyone wishing to purchase tickets at the door the evening of the performance is encouraged to arrive early.

The Baller concert is part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the music department. Former students of Baller who will perform represent a broad range of musicians the pianist taught during his 31 years at Stanford: Sean Botkin and Ju-Ying Song are at the beginning of their careers as concertizing artists and teachers; Arthur Tollefson is an established performer, teacher and school dean; and Gregory Smith is an attorney who continues to pursue his love of the piano.

Baller was born in 1909 in Brody, Galicia, then part of Poland. At age 8, he went to Vienna to study piano with a former student of Franz Liszt and at 13 he performed with the Vienna Philharmonic. In March 1938, Nazi soldiers learned that he was a pianist and a Jew, and arrested him, beat him and crushed his hands. Baller's fiancée, Edith Strauss-Neustadt, interceded on his behalf with the Polish Consul in Vienna and helped to restore his hands so that he could resume his career. The couple escaped to Budapest, where they were married before coming to the United States in 1938.

The Ballers met violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Gabor Rejto in New York, and beginning in 1941 they lived with their daughter, Nina, at Menuhin's Alma Estate in Los Gatos. Under Menuhin's patronage, Baller, Rejto and Andor Toth formed the Alma Trio in 1942-43. For several years Baller accompanied Menuhin in performances throughout the world and performed in chamber concerts. Baller died at his home in Palo Alto in 1994.

Profiles of performers

Sean Botkin, who graduated from Stanford in 1991, earned a master's degree from the Juilliard School and is currently pursuing a doctorate in piano performance at New York University. He began studying piano at age 5 and made his first orchestral appearance four years later with the Honolulu Symphony. He was among the winners of the recent Busoni Competition in Italy.

Gregory Smith double-majored in music and history at Stanford, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1985 and won the Dean of Humanities and Sciences Award in Music and the annual concerto competition with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. He received his law degree from Columbia University and is now a partner with the San Francisco law firm Cooley Godward.

Born in Taiwan and raised in Geneva, Ju-Ying Song graduated from Stanford in 1991 with honors in music, microbiology and immunology. She currently is completing her doctorate at the Juilliard School and is a visiting instructor at the Oberlin Conservatory. She has won numerous national prizes and has two CDs on the Pro Piano label.

Arthur Tollefson, recipient of the first Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano awarded by Stanford, has performed as a recitalist and concerto soloist with major symphony orchestras for more than four decades and is a former winner of the Kimber Award. In addition to his recordings and international radio and television appearances, he has given master classes at the Ravinia Festival and served as chair of several music education boards. He was named department chair of Northwestern University's School of Music in 1975 and has served as dean of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, since 1984.


By Diane Manuel

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