Music: Evoking the Golden Age

At 85, Earl Wild is our last link to the Romantic tradition and a performer with true, lasting power

The American pianist Earl Wild, who just turned 85, is the last of the great Romantics, a tradition of spellbinding virtuosos that began with Liszt and flowered before World War II with the "Golden Age" pianists--such legends as Paderewski, Hofmann, Godowsky and Rachmaninoff. Like them, Wild produces gorgeous sounds at any speed or volume, possesses vitalizing musical instincts and revels in the kinetic and sensual possibilities of the piano: its potential to evoke the grandeur of an orchestra and lyricism of a singer.

Wild's still omnipotent fingers transform the instrument into a source of marvels. He can electrify audiences with an...

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