Top Five Classical Record Holders

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Music aficionados can argue for days over which pianist employs the best technique to play Chopin, which conductor’s interpretation of Mahler is truest, or which house has the most glorious acoustics without coming to a resolution. Some claims, thanks to the Guinness World Record Book keepers, are incontrovertible. We’ve compiled our five favorite record holders:

1. Best-Selling Classical Album

When two Guinness Record Holders—Luciano Pavarotti (who took 165 curtain calls, the most ever, for his turn as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore in Berlin in 1988) and Placido Domingo (who would go on to receive the longest amount of applause, 80 minutes, following his 1991 performance of Otello in Vienna)—joined a third tenor, José Carreras, for a concert on the eve of the 1990 World Cup Final, the trio was destined to make history. The resulting album, The Three Tenors in Concert, still holds the record for the best-selling classical album with more than 12 million copies purchased.

2. Longest Career as a Professional Clarinetist

Stanley Drucker, the much beloved former principal clarinetist at the New York Philharmonic, had an illustrious career, premiering both Aaron Copland’s and John Corigliano’s concertos for the instrument. His tenure also garnered the notice of the Guinness officials who presented him with the record for the longest career as a professional clarinetist. Drucker performed for 62 years, seven months and one day (60 of those years were with the Philharmonic). Said the Phil’s chairman, Paul B. Guenther: “Not only is he is a true treasure, but he is also a really nice guy.”

3. Fastest Fingers

The flashy Hungarian pianist Balazs Havasi, is known for pushing limits. He has produced crossover albums with pop stars, spoken at TED conferences, and on November 29, 2009 attempted to set the world record for the fastest fingers on a keyboard. The nimble pianist was able to play a single note 498 times in one minute (that’s faster than eight times per second) to capture the record for most key hits in 60 seconds.

4. Fastest Violinist

Eight notes per second is nothing for the classically trained crossover violinist David Garrett. The world’s fastest violin player raced through Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee at a blazing 13 notes per second—amazingly, the well-known tune is still recognizable—during a BBC program.

5. Most Pianists Playing One Piece at the Same Time

In 2006, the British pianist Stanislav Yovanovitch visited Harbin, a city on the Northeastern spur of China for its annual music festival. During his time there, he joined 1,000 fellow players in a mass rendition Schubert's March Militaire in the city square. The event set the world record for most pianists playing one piece at the same time. That concert was one of the items the city listed on its résumé (along with being home to the country’s oldest symphony orchestra) to help it win an official recognition as “Music City” from the United Nations.

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Comments [6]

Stuart Johnson from Fairfax, Marin County CA

Flagrantly dishonest and inacurrate reporting by Amanda Angel who is next up for a LAWSUIT. Stanislav Yovanovitch opened China's biggest, oldest music festival in CITY HALL to a televised audience of millions in a program including the Liszt Sonata, Chopin, and Ravel etc. He DID NOT join 1000 pianists in the city square.
Its all on google!
An obvious attempt to discredit the artist.

Oct. 11 2011 10:26 AM
Henry from NJ

The David Garrett video is by no means a "record." I has personally heard people play faster than this... many, many times.

Please, watch József Lendvay playing Monti's Csardas, Heifetz playing Sinding's Suite in A Minor, or Michael Rabin playing Novacek's Molto Perpetuo.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, this "record" has already been beaten.

Oct. 02 2011 09:42 PM
Peter T. Daniels from Jersey City

Why do you say that Stanley Drucker "had" a career and "performed" for a certain amount of time? Has he passed away in the last three months? His Mozart Clarinet Quintet performance in Washington Square Park would have been as wonderful as the same work was last winter (when the Washington Square Music Festival went indoors), if it hadn't been rained out by a sudden downpour.

Oct. 02 2011 04:41 PM
Michael Meltzer

:Amen!, Margo.

Oct. 02 2011 12:12 PM
Margo from NYC

re: Horowitz and the Scarlatti: the repeated notes are not played as a stunt, but integral to the music. Horowitz's touch was exquisite.

Oct. 02 2011 09:37 AM
Michael Meltzer

For the Havasi "record speed" it doesn't appear that the judges did very much of a sampling. I'll just cite one example that you can easily double check in your own archive.
In the Horowitz LP, "Horowitz Plays Scarlatti" he plays the D-major Sonata, Longo 465 or Kirkpatrick 96. It's a repeated-note "allegrissimo" in 3/8 time. In the Keller-Weismann edition (C.F.Peters #4692-c, page 40), a suggested metronome tempo is posted at dotted-quarter = 92. That puts the eighth-note at 276 per minute, and the repeated sixteenth-notes then, at 552 per minute, or a rate of 9.2 repeated notes per second.
Horowitz recorded it at about that speed , perhaps a shade faster.
Anyone who claims to play faster than Horowitz in his prime is either delusional or lying. Admittedly, Volodos, Kissin and Argerich are so fast that any difference is academic. but they are all comfortably faster than 8 repeated notes per second.

Sep. 29 2011 01:10 AM

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