Recital: “Twentieth Century Piano Music (1900-1950)”

Prelude and Fugue op. 87 no. 4 in E Minor (1950)

Sonata for Piano (1924)
I.♩ = 112
II. Adagietto
III.♩ = 112

Mazurkas op. 50 (1924-26)
I. Sostenuto – Molto rubato
II. Allegramente – Poco vivace
III. Moderato
IV. Allegramente, risoluto

Piano Sonata ‘1. X. 1905, From the street’ (1905)
I. Předtucha (Presentiment)
II. Smrt (Death)

Piano Sonata op. 21 in E-flat Minor (1903)
I. Allegro con fuoco
II. Andante ma non troppo
III. Allegro vivace

Igor Lipinski’s “Piano Illusions”

Pianist Igor Lipinski unifies two of his passions, classical music and sleight-of-hand magic, in a recital program called “Piano Illusions”. Lipinski plays a sophisticated piano repertoire, from Chopin to Stravinsky, and in between the music, he performs his “Piano Illusions,” creative magic tricks based on the musical selections on the program.

In one of his signature effects developed with Teller of Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller, Lipinski starts by playing a three-part Fugue from Bach’s Toccata in E Minor. Following the performance, he invites a spectator on stage, memorizes a shuffled deck of fifty-two cards, and recites the order of the deck while playing the Bach’s Fugue at the piano.

Teller calls him an original: “He thrills you on the piano. He mystifies you with magical illusions. And he keeps you laughing with his impudent, charismatic charm.”

Lipinski inherited a book on card magic from his great-grandfather when he was six years old. Soon after, he became the youngest member of the Society of Polish Magicians, and by his sixteenth birthday, he performed magic at festivals in Poland, Czech Republic, France, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Lipinski started his first piano lessons at six. At twelve, he won the Grand Prix and the First Prize at the Paderewski Competition for Young Pianists in Kasna Dolna, Poland. At eighteen, he was accepted to study piano performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

In addition to majoring in piano performance, Lipinski was accepted to a selective honors program called Musical Arts Major. While working towards his honors thesis, he studied with a theater director on developing a program of music and magic for his senior project.

Harold Weller, Founder of Las Vegas Philharmonic, took interest in Lipinski’s project and shared a video recording of his performance with Teller of Penn & Teller.  After an inspiring collaboration with Teller in Las Vegas, Lipinski won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway, a national competition adjudicated by a panel of distinguished classical music judges including Metropolitan Opera’s Deborah Voigt and P.D.Q. Bach’s Peter Schickele.

Upon the success of the competition, Lipinski presented “Piano Illusions” at renowned concert series, festivals, universities, symphony orchestras, and as encores during his classical recitals. In recent years, he performed the program for Musica del Cuore Concert Series in Hong Kong, Gina Bachauer Piano Foundation in Salt Lake City, UT, Dakota Sky International Piano Festival in Sioux Falls, SD, Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA, Music on Mondays Concert Series in New York, NY, University of South Florida Steinway Concert Series in Tampa, FL, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Rochester, NY, Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra in Brainerd, MN, and Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra in Hyannis, MA.

After graduating with his BM & MM degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Lipinski earned his DMA in Piano Performance at Northwestern University where he researched the history of recital programming in his doctoral dissertation: “From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.” After completing his first faculty appointment at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2016-17, he joined the piano faculty at the University of Oklahoma as the Assistant Professor of Piano in Fall 2017.

Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News
“As a pianist on the cusp of his career, Igor Lipinski holds a special card in his hands. His performances are magical. Literally.”

Teller of Penn & Teller, Rio Hotel & Casino Las Vegas
“Igor is an original. He thrills you on the piano. He mystifies you with magical illusions. And he keeps you laughing with his impudent, charismatic charm.”

Harold Weller, Conductor and Founder, Las Vegas Philharmonic
“Igor’s unique combination of music and magic will thrill and excite you and leave you wanting more!”

Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano, Eastman School of Music
“I want to tell you all just how impressive his show is, in so many ways. His playing, of course, is just so effortless, effective, evocative, sensitive, virtuosic, and technically brilliant. He somehow manages to make GEVA clunker of a grand sound lyrical and lush, with colors that most pianists don’t possess on a decent instrument. It must be part of his magic!

His talk to the audience in between “tricks” and piano pieces flows so effortlessly. The use of language is personal, direct, and captivating; with well-chosen images, as well as directives to the audience to imagine and follow his journey; he creates an event of joy, discovery, and, yes, magic.

And there is the magic itself: creative, mesmerizing, thrilling, and yet never simplistic or intimidating. Needless to say, the tricks generate a “How’d he do that?!” and that’s part of the fun. But what I loved even more was the interaction between music and magic. For all of us at Eastman, music is magical, in spite of our endeavors to study its history, theory, etc. But fundamentally, music is magic in sound and silence, and Igor’s show highlights that definition perfectly.

I hope each and every one of you can experience this unique and personal offering: Igor deserves such an audience, and you deserve to witness this amazing exhibition of talent, creativity and inspiration.”

Igor Lipinski wins the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway

On November 11, 2011 in New York City, Igor Lipinski was announced the winner of the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. The contest was a partnership between the legendary comedy club and the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station aiming to find the next Victor Borge of classical music. Finalists were chosen from 79 applicants from around the world to perform live in front of the world-class line-up of judges: Metropolitan Opera Star Deborah Voight, HBO Comedian Robert Klein, Peter Schickele of PDQ Bach fame and Charles Hamlen of IMG Artists. The contest was presented as part of the New York Comedy Festival.

Press releases at and

Igor Lipinski performs at the Paderewski Summer Concert Hall in Poland

Igor Lipinski performed his “Evening of Music & Magic” at the Paderewski’s Summer Concert Hall of the Paderewski Center in Kasna Dolna, Poland on July 22, 2011. Lipinski’s first appearance in Poland in over 5 years has gathered rave reviews and enthusiastic reception of the audience who packed the hall and asked Lipinski to play three encores.

Igor Lipinski performs music & magic for his senior thesis at the Eastman School of Music

In addition to completing his piano performance degree at the Eastman School of Music, Lipinski was accepted to a selective honors program called Musical Arts Major.

Advised by the MUA faculty committee, Lipinski crafted an interdisciplinary curriculum for his junior and senior year at Eastman. Lipinski’s senior project unified two of his passions, classical music and sleight-of-hand magic, to develop a unique concert program of music and magic. Lipinski took a series of independent studies with a theater director at the University of Rochester, researched performance traditions of the nineteenth-century artists, and premiered an hour long show to the sold-out house.

The performance took place at one of Eastman’s recording studios on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. The MUA committee awarded Lipinski’s senior project the Musical Arts Major with Excellence.

Photo credit: Kate L Photography

A Performer’s Guide To Chopin’s Mazurkas

This lecture-recital is a comprehensive guide to teaching and performance of Chopin’s Mazurkas, highlighting unique features of this hybrid dance form to inform the authentic application of Chopin’s articulation, phrasing, rhythm, and tempo rubato.

The fifty-seven mazurkas of Frédéric Chopin show a fascinating evolution of the genre, from a charming dance to a sophisticated musical poem. This lecture-recital, illustrated by a dozen of examples at the piano, offers a comprehensive and practical guide to teaching and performance of these masterpieces.

Since the mazurka is a hybrid of three Polish dances, the presentation will address unique characteristics of (1) the mazur, (2) the kujawiak, and (3) the oberek, along with dance movements present in Chopin’s writing, such as the “hołubiec” (heel-clicking leaps on offbeat accents) of the mazur, the “wahadłowy” (pendulum motive) of the kujawiak, and the “młynek” (whirling) of the oberek. Playing excerpts of the original folk song recordings will reveal peculiar effects featured in Chopin’s instrumental transformation of the genre, such as the “przyśpiewka,” a short improvised vocal introduction, an upbeat used for instrumental tuning, and a glissando effect, as well as Chopin’s re-imagination of folk band instruments, shown in “basy i dudy” (bass drones) of the accompanimental ostinato and the tradition of Polish fiddling. Highlighting these elements will address essential performance considerations such as moveable accents of the mazur, agogic accents of the kujawiak, a rapid stepwise motion of the oberek, a distinction of accentuation between the mazurka and the waltz, and a careful application of tempo rubato.

Lastly, the presentation will offer ideas on how this practical knowledge informs the teaching and performance of the mazurkas written by the twentieth-century composers influenced by Chopin, including Alexander Scriabin, Manuel Ponce, and Karol Szymanowski.

Igor Lipinski, is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma, a frequent orchestra and recital soloist, and a graduate of Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.

From Liszt To Victor Borge: A Legacy Of Unique Piano Performances

This interactive lecture-recital examines an element of surprise in Franz Liszt’s Monologues Pianistiques and Victor Borge’s Comedy in Music to explore unconventional recital programming and rediscover a sense of wonder in our own performances.

When Franz Liszt (1811-1886) premiered his Monologues Pianistiques in Rome, he finished every concert with an element of surprise. The pianist would ask the audience to write down the names of popular arias and drop them into a silver urn. By the end of the recital, he read the selections out loud while conversing joyfully with the crowd. Once settled on a particular theme, he included the familiar melody in his closing improvisation.

Following into Liszt’s footsteps, Victor Borge (1909-2000) redefined an element of surprise for Broadway with his record-breaking 849 shows of Comedy in Music in New York City. Borge encouraged musical requests, conversed with the public, and delighted his spectators with a unique touch of music and humor, turning a familiar tune of “Happy Birthday” into a set of piano variations and playing Rossini’s William Tell with the sheet-music upside down.

Liszt and Borge lived in different times and played for different audience yet they both recognized the power and the value of surprise. They believed that surprising the audience is often as important to a successful performance as technical mastery of the instrument. This presentation features a lively recreation of Liszt’s and Borge’s performance styles at the piano and explains a creative process behind programming such an interactive concert experience for today’s audience. By revisiting the legacy of these two engaging artists, we learn to think outside of the box, and bring a sense of wonder to our own performances while attracting new audience to classical music.

Igor Lipinski, is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma, a frequent orchestra and recital soloist, and a graduate of Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.