American pianist Earl Wild died Saturday in Palm Springs, California, after a long bout with congestive heart disease. Davis was 94 years old.
Wild was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 26, 1915. He was a pianist in the grand Romantic tradition, according to his website, and was known for his graceful stage presence, remarkable facility as a sight-reader and improviser, and immense hands.
Wild was just fourteen years old when he was hired to play piano and celeste in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Otto Klemperer. In 1937, he joined NBC in New York City as a staff pianist where he performed with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Arturo Toscanini, among others. During World War II, he served in the United States Navy as a musician, playing 4th flute in the Navy Band. From 1944 to 1968, Wild was a staff pianist, conductor and composer for ABC.
Wild worked in the world of classical music, as a composer, within orchestras and as a piano soloist, over seven and a half of his nine decades of life. The New York Times reports he reveled in bravura works — from Liszt to Rachmaninoff — but that all of his animated performances combined a deeply considered interpretive approach and an ironclad technique. Wild's memoirs are scheduled to be published in a few months by Carnegie Mellon Press. He is survived by his companion of 38 years Michael Rolland Davis.