Like many great pianists, Agustín Anievas broke onto the music scene with a meteoric rise from competition victories and the successful major concerts that followed. But from about 1980, he began to fade, not because of a decline in his art, but because of the inevitable arrival of new pianists and the public's curiosity to explore their talents. Anievas has been called a Beethoven and Chopin specialist, but his traversal of the Rachmaninov concertos and various solo works must rank among his greatest recorded achievements. His recorded legacy also includes the complete Chopin waltzes and etudes, and his repertory has taken in large chunks of Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, and many others. Recent interest in the artistry of Anievas has been fueled by reissues of the Rachmaninov concertos (and Paganini Rhapsody) and a collection of Chopin works, both on EMI, from 2006.
Anievas was born in New York City in 1934. He was a prodigy, first taking piano lessons from his mother at the age of three and appearing at four at the (Weiss) Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He gave a public concert at the Pan American Union in Washington, D.C., when he was nine and three years later appeared at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico performing a concert of works by Liszt and Beethoven.
Among his teachers were Olga Samaroff and Ernest Hutcheson and, at Juilliard, Adele Marcus. With such a background from his childhood and teen years it is hardly surprising that Anievas captured a bevy of citations and prizes from the late '50s onward: Michaels Award in Chicago (1958), New York's Concert Artists' Guild Award (1959), major prizes in the Queen Elizabeth and Busoni Competitions (1960), and first prize at the 1961 Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition.
Anievas temporarily relocated to Brussels in 1965 and soon became a sensation in Europe. His first recording, the Brahms, Paganini, and Handel variations, was issued on EMI to enthusiastic critical response both there and in the U.S. The Chopin waltzes followed, drawing accolades from the New York Times and other noted publications. By the mid-'70s Anievas moved back to New York City and soon joined the faculty at Brooklyn College School of Music. Though he remained quite active in the concert hall in the years following his return, his concert schedule gradually became less demanding and he took on other musical interests that included serving on juries of major competitions.