James Kwast

James Kwast

James Kwast (23 November 1852 – 31 October 1927) was a Dutch-German pianist and renowned teacher of many other notable pianists. He was also a minor composer and editor.


Jacob James Kwast was born in Nijkerk, Netherlands, in 1852. After studies with his father and Ferdinand Böhme in his home country,[1] he became a student of Carl Reinecke at the Leipzig Conservatory, and had later studies in Berlin under Theodor Kullak, and Brussels under Louis Brassin and François-Auguste Gevaert. He settled in Germany in 1883, initially as a teacher at the Cologne Conservatory, and later at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt and the Klindworth-Scharwenka (1903–06) and Stern conservatories in Berlin.

He participated in the first performance in England of Brahms’s Piano Trio in C minor, with Carl Fuchs and Carl Deichmann.[2]

Clara Schumann played her last public concert in Frankfurt on 12 March 1891. The last work she played was Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn, in the piano-duet version, with Kwast as her partner.[3]

He died in Berlin in 1927, aged 74.


His reputation as a teacher reached far and wide. The list of his students includes:


He wrote a piano concerto and various piano pieces, as well as piano transcriptions of Bach organ works. He edited the keyboard works of Joseph Haydn.

Personal lifeEdit

His first wife was Antonie (“Tony”), the daughter of Ferdinand Hiller. Their daughter Mimi Kwast married his pupil, the composer Hans Pfitzner.

He later married a pupil of his, Frieda Hodapp, who was a successful pianist. She was also a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, the soloist in the first performance of Busoni's Concertino, and the dedicatee of Max Reger's F minor Concerto, which she premiered in 1910. She also premiered Reger's Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Telemann, Op. 134, on 14 March 1915 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. The work was dedicated to her husband.[9]

His brother was the conductor Jan Albert Kwast (Quast).


  1. ^ Bach cantatas
  2. ^ Archives Hub Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Peter Clive. Brahms and His World: A Biographical Dictionary, p. 403. Retrieved 23 October 2014
  4. ^ Orel Foundation
  5. ^ "Otto Klemperer site". Archived from the original on 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  6. ^ "Burle Marx Musica Society". Archived from the original on 2011-09-11. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  7. ^ Jewish Women Encyclopedia
  8. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zilcher, Hermann". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1946. ISBN 0-02-870240-9.
  9. ^ Liner notes to Oryx Romantic 1824, recording by Hugo Steurer


  • Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed (1954), ed. Eric Blom, Vol IV, p. 880