Peter Schaaf won the Kosciuszko Foundation’s Chopin Prize in 1961, and the Morris Loeb Prize from Juilliard in 1965. A student of iconic piano pedagogue Rosina Lhévinne, he performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, had a modest solo recital career, then went into accompanying and chamber music. He played many recitals with Yo-Yo Ma, including his New York recital debut in 1971. Schaaf also worked with Kyung-Wha Chung, Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Renata Tebaldi, and Jon Vickers, with whom he made a recording on the VAI label of Schubert’s Die Winterreise from a 1983 Toronto performance (VAIA 1007-2). For several years he also led the Archduke Trio.
Switching careers to support his growing family, Schaaf built a substantial reputation as a portrait photographer for musicians and a portrait and event photographer for The Juilliard School, The New York Times, Life, Time, and People magazines and record companies. He published two books of photographs for children, The Violin Close Up and An Apartment House Close Up (Scholastic Books). For twenty-five years he didn’t touch the piano. In 2008, a series of coincidences led him to pick up the score of Isaac Albéniz’s Iberia, which he had loved for many years but had never thought of learning, due to its difficulties. With encouragement and support from David Dubal and Victor Elmaleh, he learned, performed publicly, and recorded the entire set of 12 pieces — his first solo CD.
Next, he came across Dvorak’s (eight) Waltzes, op.54 and was charmed by their warmth, humor, and slavic folk elements. He learned them and put them together with waltzes by Schubert, Brahms, and Ravel on a CD album, 44 Waltzes on 88 Keys. Both CDs have been successful, getting fine reviews and air time on several radio stations, including Sirius XM.
Now he is proud to present Chopin 17 Waltzes.