Earl Wild

One of the Great Pianists of the 20th Century

Pianist Earl Wild from Pittsburgh's Knoxville section was widely recognized as a leading virtuoso of his generation. He performed around the world and recorded until he was 90. Earl is included in the "Great Pianists of the 20th Century" CD Series published by Polygram Records in 1999.

Born in Pittsburgh's Knoxville neighborhood in 1915 Earl Wild was a child prodigy with the gift of absolute pitch.  He began playing the piano at age 3.  At six he site read music fluently.  He began his classical studies at age 11 at Carnegie Tech with Selmar Janson a pupil of d'Albert and Scharwenka (both students of Franz Liszt). At age 12 he became a star of KDKA Radio and performed with the KDKA Orchestra and conductor Victor Saudek for eight years. The Pittsburgh Symphony hired him as resident pianist at age 14.  To make money to help support his family Earl played at silent movies and cafes and performed with jazz and classical orchestras. In 1935 he moved to New York for a year to study with Egon Petri who shaped his approach to playing. Returning to Pittsburgh he graduated in 1937 from Carnegie Tech with a bachelor's degree in music.

After graduation, Mr. Wild moved back to New York City and was hired by NBC as a pianist.  In 1939 he gave the first solo piano recital on American television.  Wild's most famous performance that brought him to national stardom during his NBC career was with conductor Arturo Toscanini and the the NBC Symphony in a critically acclaimed performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1942.

During World War II  Mr. Wild served in the U.S. Navy playing flute with the Navy Band and piano with the Navy Orchestra , and performing recitals at the White House. After the war he signed with the ABC network as a staff pianist, conductor, and composer.  His acclaimed oratorio composition, Revelations, was broadcast by ABC in 1962 and 1964.  His recording career took off at that time where he showed the world serious artistry in the works of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Beethoven and more.  He continued to record into his eighties on the Ivory Classics label.  He recorded his last CD "Living Histories" at age 90.

Mr. Wild taught at Carnegie Mellon University, the Julliard School, Penn State University, and the Eastman School of Music.