Alexander K. Borovsky - Master Pianist
An informational site about the master pianist Alexander K. Borovsky (1889-1968).
Buy the 4-CD Set
From the 11" acetate tapes never before released to the public: a 4-CD set of J.S. Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier," (48 Preludes & Fugues) recorded by Alexander Borovsky in 1955. The original tape reels were willed to Borovsky's student George Zilzer, who in turn gave them to William Jones, student of Borovsky.
The 4-disc set includes a 44-page booklet of Borovsky's notes on "The 48," researched and compiled by William Jones. Listen to samples and read more information about the project below.
Now available in its second printing!
Includes USPS shipping within the continental US.
International buyers will be billed additional shipping costs through Paypal (feel free to contact me by
or at 518-439-3861 if you would like a shipping quote before purchasing).
"Borowsky plays with judicious use of the pedal, a beautifully polished sonority, and mindful articulation, enabling his wonderfully consistent voicing of Bach's contrapuntal writing to be clearly heard and appreciated. The box set, produced by one of Borowsky's students using the master tapes from the pianist's collection, features the recordings in thoroughly amazing sound and includes a booklet with the pianist's writings about all of the 48 Preludes and Fugues."
- Mark Ainley,
The Piano Files
Listen to audio samples:
About this project:
I knew from Borovsky's step-daughter, Natalie King, that Borovsky recorded the "48" during the summer of 1955 in New York City (with the air conditioning turned off to assist the clarity of the recording). From his unpublished memoirs, I found that he recorded in a Vox or RCA recording studio. Neither label has been able to confirm this from their annals.
Borovsky willed the 11" acetate tapes of the "48" recording to his student, George Zilzer (whom I knew from Borovsky's musicales in his Waban, MA home). George told me that he had these tapes, but could never play them as they were recorded on acetate/aluminum reels - so he had kept them in storage. One weekend in 2010, I drove to Newton, MA to meet George, and he gave me the tapes hoping I could find a way to play them. George, a professor at Brandeis University, died in 2011.
I was on the Board of Directors of Troy Chromatic Concerts at Troy Music Hall. Brian Peters was the sound engineer for their concerts, as well as the recording engineer for all of the Dorian Recordings. I asked Brian if he had a way to play these recordings. He did not have the machine to play the reels, but located one. We did not know what condition the tapes were in. There were 2-inch pieces of tape separating each Prelude & Fugue which came loose and had to be replaced, as they had deteriorated and disintegrated.
Brian phoned me one day to meet and listen to one of the reels. The sound was clean and pristine. We both were overwhelmed at this good news, after all the years these reels had been kept in storage. It would take Brian a year or more to digitally restore the "48."
Then came the big task of finding a recording company to produce the release.
Henri Nijsten, a pianist and teacher in the Netherlands with an interest in Borovsky, had contacted me after coming across some of my research online. I asked if he had any ideas. Henri contacted a recording label in the Netherlands, and said they were interested as they had a project on Russian pianists. Henri spent much time corresponding with them. In 2011, he met the head of product and marketing A&R Manager in the Netherlands and everything was "go." And then one day the label backed out of the project.
After two years of failed attempts and negotiating with two commercial labels, my wife and I decided with Natalie to produce the "48" ourselves, with Borovsky's own program notes. Other unreleased broadcasts and recitals were also digitally restored at this time as well - but we thought we should begin with Borovsky's most favorite composer, J.S. Bach. Borovsky was one of the first in the world to perform complete cycles of Bach's works. He was the first to record the Inventions and Sinfonias; perhaps the second pianist to record the complete English and French Suites.
My gratitude to Natalie King, Natasha Borovsky Dobbs (Borovsky’s daughter), George Zilzer, Brian Peters, Henri Nijsten, and my wife Kathryn, for her help and patience in my research. Thanks also to my daughter Kristen Jones and her partner rob Hinkal for their help with the cover design and getting the recording duplicated and available for sale.
- William Jones
For more information, feel free to contact me by
or at (518) 439-3861.
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