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Lou Teicher of Ferrante and Teicher

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  • mrcooby
    Lou Teicher, of Ferrante & Teicher, Popular Piano Duo of 60s, Dies at 83 By BRUCE WEBER Lou Teicher, half of the piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, whose florid
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10, 2008
      Lou Teicher, of Ferrante & Teicher, Popular Piano Duo of '60s, Dies
      at 83
      Lou Teicher, half of the piano duo Ferrante & Teicher, whose florid
      and sentimental versions of movie themes and love songs made them
      gods of easy listening and earned them wide popularity beginning in
      the 1960s, died on Sunday in Highlands, N.C. He was 83 and lived in
      Sarasota, Fla.

      The cause was heart failure, said Scott W. Smith, Ferrante &
      Teicher's manager.

      A classically trained pianist who was something of a prodigy, Mr.
      Teicher was a musician of extraordinary dexterity, the speed and
      clarity of his and his partner's playing being among their crowd-
      pleasing qualities. The two met as children at the Juilliard School
      of Music, and their friendship became a professional team in the mid-
      1940s. Eventually, with their hit recordings of the themes from the
      films "The Apartment" and "Exodus," and "Tonight," from "West Side
      Story," among others, they became known as "the movie theme team."
      And for their appearances onstage or on television in matching flashy
      outfits and at the keyboards of imposing instruments, they were
      called "the grand twins of the twin grands."

      Louis Milton Teicher was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Aug. 24, 1924.
      By the time he was 6, his family was living in New York City, and
      young Lou was enrolled at Juilliard. His future partner, Arthur
      Ferrante, then 9, was already there. Mr. Teicher graduated in 1940
      and received an advanced degree in 1943. Both he and Mr. Ferrante
      joined the faculty. They began performing together in 1947, initially
      as a purely classical duo.

      Eventually, of course, they became famous for a kind of virtuosic
      kitsch: grandiose, emotional playing, embellished with glissandi,
      spectacular arpeggios and a back-and-forth communication that often
      made it seem as if the pianos themselves were conversing.

      "Although we were two individuals, at the twin pianos our brains
      worked as one," Mr. Ferrante, now 86, said in a statement after Mr.
      Teicher's death.

      Playing alone or with orchestras, with a wide repertory of pop tunes,
      show music, movie themes and modernized classical scores, the two men
      performed more than 5,200 concerts; made more than 200 television
      appearances; entertained Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon
      and Ronald Reagan; and from 1951 to 2001 recorded about 150 albums,
      the last dozen or so for their own recording company, somewhat
      paradoxically called Avant-Garde Records.

      Actually, in the early days of their partnership, they did have
      experimental tendencies. Influenced by John Cage, they made several
      recordings with "prepared pianos," that is, pianos with objects like
      cardboard wedges, rubber stops and sandpaper inserted among the
      strings to create a variety of unexpected sounds. This was in the
      1950s, when, in addition to making what they called their gimmick
      recordings, they were playing 100 or so concert dates a year. At the
      time, they appeared in small community halls where the programming
      was strictly classical and they performed two-piano arrangements of
      works by composers from Bach to Rachmaninoff.

      Mr. Teicher is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Richard,
      of Linden, N.J., Susan, of Urbana Ill., and David, of Westport,
      Conn.; and four grandchildren.

      It was in 1959 that the producer Don Costa moved from ABC Records to
      United Artists, taking Ferrante and Teicher with him. There the two
      capitalized on the record company's affiliation with a movie company;
      Mr. Costa was being sent the scores from United Artists films, and
      when he received the theme from "The Apartment," he brought it to the
      two pianists; it became their first big hit.

      "All of a sudden," said Mr. Smith, their manager, "they'd show up at
      some small theater, or a church or wherever they were supposed to
      play, and people would be lined up outside the doors to get in, and
      they'd be saying, `Are you going to play `The Apartment'?' " Mr.
      Smith added: "And they'd say, `No, we're going to play Bach and
      Tchaikovsky.' And the people would say, `But we came to hear `The
      Apartment!' Literally overnight, they had to come up with a whole new
      two-hour program. They said, `People think we're pop stars!' "
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