Blog

On his 99th birthday:
Liberace

Blog
On his 99th birthday: Liberace

15.05.2018

Text: Cem Kayıran 

Liberace, who –in his own words - performed ‘‘classic music with all the boring parts left out’’, merged this genre with fun and glory, creating ground-breaking shows. On the 99th birthday of the legendary musician, we are looking at highlights from his career.

Wladziu Valentino Liberace started playing the piano at the very young age of three, and followed his parent’s footsteps with his music education. In short time, Liberace was able to play the songs he heard at home on the piano, and learnt the Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski’s technique when he was just a child.

Because of his flamboyant and feminine nature, Liberace was excluded by his age groups, which in turn made him focus on his piano education even more. He started to perform in clubs around Wisconsin at a young age, and took on the stage name Walter Busterkeys. In 1940, he changed his stage name to Liberace, inspired by his idol Paderewski.

Liberace was also interested in fashion, design and painting, and in the early 1940’s, he decided to create a stage show of his own. To make his show more ‘‘fun’’, Liberace included pop elements and defined his performances as ‘‘classic music with boring parts left out’’.  By the second half of 1940’s, Liberace had started to tour USA and transformed from a classical pianist into a huge showman.

Using gigantic and rare pianos in his performances befitting his own glory, Liberace continued to take stage in clubs after he moved to North Hollywood. By 1950’s, he was a nation-wide phenomenon, breaking records with his New York and Las Vegas shows, being featured in the cover of magazines and followed closely by numerous fan clubs.

“I don’t give concerts, I put on a show.” –Liberace

Because of the strong visual aspect of his shows, Liberace was never interested in the radio. But he tried his chances on television with a short program for a Los Angeles TV channel. The show reached record-breaking ratings among local TV channel programs, and launched Liberace’s successful television career.

With his guests, surprises and wide music selection, Liberace’s shows were the most fun program to watch on television during the 50’s. It is known that during this period, Liberace was receiving more than ten thousand fan letters in just a week. Unfortunately the great pianist had to take a break from his prolific career in mid 1960’s because of his health problems.

Mr. Showmanship’s comeback to show business happened in Las Vegas with his famous quote ‘‘I’m a one-man Disneyland’’.  Eventhough the doctors said that he came back from near death, Liberace went on his shows as if nothing had happened. In this period, he opened up an antique store, a restaurant and released his own cookbook.

Aside from his television and stage shows, Liberace also took part in cinema films and released albums from Columbia label. His sexual orientation became a controversial issue. He refused his homosexuality publicly and sued the newspapers that released news on the subject. When his boyfriend sued him, he insisted the accusations were false.

Liberace, who is one of the pioneers of ‘‘showbiz’’, was 67 years old when he passed away in 1987.

You may also like

Follow Us
TR EN
Filter events by label
11 OCT MON
-
12 OCT TUE
-
13 OCT WED
-
14 OCT THU
-
15 OCT FRI
-
16 OCT SAT
-
17 OCT SUN
-
18 OCT MON
-
19 OCT TUE
-
20 OCT WED
-
21 OCT THU
-
22 OCT FRI
-
23 OCT SAT
-
24 OCT SUN
-
25 OCT MON
-
26 OCT TUE
-
27 OCT WED
-
28 OCT THU
-
29 OCT FRI
-
30 OCT SAT
-
31 OCT SUN
-

Add event to your calendar

Subscribe to Newsletter