Music: I Shall Never Return

Manhattan-born William Kapell was a hammer-handed but unmistakably talented pianist of 19 when he first crashed on to the U.S. music scene in a concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1941. In rapid order, he won three important awards, gathered a devoted following and dazzled the critics with his performances. "Playing of Rachmaninoff dimensions," cheered the Times's Olin Downes. ''Complete mastery, with prodigious strength and swiftness." Kapell appeared with 20 major orchestras, and his bouncing plume of black hair became familiar to concert audiences across the U.S.

As time passed, the critics developed a more exacting tone. Kapell's real forte, they ruled,...

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