Leonard Pennario

Leonard Pennario: Piano

Genre: Classical

Sound description: Smooth and technically adept piano playing that puts the class in classical.

RIYL: Sergei Rachmaninoff, Andre Previn, Wilhelm Kempff

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Influences: Rudolph Serkin, Mitsuko Uchida, Andre Previn, Vladimir Sofronitsky, Artur Schnabel, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Maria Joao Pires, Stephen Kovacevich


Leonard Pennario is a Grammy-winning pianist and best-selling classical recording artist. At the age of 12, Pennario learned the Grieg Concerto in a week, before performing it from memory with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He never attended a music conservatory, but at age 19, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. He also performed with the Chicago Symphony.

He recorded for the Capitol record label between 1950 and 1960, going on to win a Grammy in the 1960s for his work with violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. He spent years as a permanent jury member of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

In summer 2008, Pennario died at his San Diego home of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.

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