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Anthony di Bonaventura

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Anthony di Bonaventura
Born(1929-11-12)November 12, 1929
DiedNovember 12, 2012(2012-11-12) (aged 83)
EducationNew York's Music School Settlement
Alma materCurtis Institute of Music
(m. 1953; div. 1972)

Anthony di Bonaventura (November 12, 1929  – November 12, 2012) was an American pianist and Professor of Music at Boston University's College of Fine Arts for 40 years. He was the director of a Piano Institute at Colby College Piano Institute (1978–2003) and then at West Chester University of Pennsylvania (2004–12).[1][2][3]

Early life

Anthony di Bonaventura was born on November 12, 1929 in Follansbee, West Virginia. He was the son of Fred di Bonaventura, a barber, and Rosaria "Rose" (née Santomo) di Bonaventura.[4]

Anthony began piano studies at the age of three years and gave the first professional concert at the age of four years. Then he won a scholarship to New York's Music School Settlement at six.[5] At thirteen, he appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic.[6] At sixteen, he became the pupil of the celebrated Russian teacher Madame Isabelle Vengerova and later entered the Curtis Institute of Music, where he graduated with highest honors.[7] While at Curtis, he was a student of Isabelle Vengerova.


Enthusiastic acclaim by critics and audiences came early in his career. After his Washington debut, Paul Hume of The Washington Post'' wrote: "He can stand with the great players of Mozart's keyboard music." His brilliant performances in an early European tour led to his selection by the great conductor Otto Klemperer to perform the complete Beethoven Concerti at the London Beethoven Festival.[8][9]

Di Bonaventura gave performances in 28 countries, including appearances with the London Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra,[10] Chicago Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and the Vienna Symphony. He has given solo recitals at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Concertgebouw, and Musikverein, as well as performances at festivals of Spoleto, Ann Arbor, Saratoga, Bergen, Lucca, Zagreb, and Donaueschingen.[8] World premieres of specially written works by Berio, Kelemen, Persichetti, and Ginastera. Recordings for Columbia, RCA Connoisseur Society, and Sine Qua Non.[11]

Many distinguished composers such as György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Alberto Ginastera, Milko Kelemen and Vincent Persichetti wrote works especially for him. He premiered Ligeti's Piano Concerto (1986), Ginastera's Piano Sonata No. 2 (1992), Berio's Points on the Curve to Find (1975), Persichetti's Piano Concerto (1968), and other works.[citation needed] Anthony served as the Director of the Summer Piano Institute, Colby College and later West Chester University.[12]

In 1991, he performed the Netherlands premiere of Witold Lutosławski's Piano Concerto with the composer conducting, followed by performances also conducted by Lutoslawski with the Boston Symphony, Polish National Radio Symphony and San Francisco Symphony in 1993, on the occasion of the composer's 80th birthday.


He made a number of recordings. His recording of Claude Debussy's Études has been described by The Boston Globe as "one of the wonders of the world". Other recordings include 14 of Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonatas, and Rachmaninoff's Preludes. Op. 32.[13]

Among his notable pupils were Fabio Parrini, Horia Mihail, Aidas Puodziukas and his protégé Konstantinos Papadakis.[14]

Personal life

In 1953,[7] he married Sara Roosevelt Whitney (b. 1932), daughter of Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney and James Roosevelt II (1907–1991), the eldest son of President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.[15] Before their divorce in 1972, they had five children together:[16]

  • Anthony Peter Christopher Di Bonaventura (b. 1954),[17]
  • Andrea Isabella Di Bonaventura (b. 1956),[18]
  • Peter John Di Bonaventura (b. 1957)[16]
  • Sarina Rosaria Di Bonaventura (b. 1959)[19]
  • Betsy Maria Di Bonaventura (b. 1963).[16]

Bonaventura died on November 12, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, aged 83.[20] His brother was symphony conductor Mario di Bonaventura, and his nephew is film producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.


  1. ^ "Boston University Mourns the Passing of Anthony di Bonaventura, School of Music Professor and Legendary Pianist » College of Fine Arts | Blog Archive | Boston University". Archived from the original on 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  2. ^ Biography Notes from Domenico Scarlatti: 14 Keyboard Sonatas, Centaur Records, Inc., 2006
  3. ^ Dubal, David. The Art of Piano: Its Performers, Literature, and Recordings (The 3rd Edition). Amadeus Press, 2005.
  4. ^ "Fred di Bonaventura, 73, Dead; Barber Was Father of Pianist". The New York Times. 23 May 1964. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Boy Pianist, 10, in Debut". The New York Times. 30 March 1941. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  6. ^ "14-YEAR-OLD PIANIST IN STADIUM CONCERT". The New York Times. 12 August 1944. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (17 May 1953). "SARA D. ROOSEVELT PROSPECTIVE BRIDE; Granddaughter of President Plans Wedding in June to Anthony di Bonaventura". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (15 February 1957). "U.S. PIANIST IN GENEVA; Di Bonaventura, Son-in-Law of Whitney, Plays on Tour". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  9. ^ Schonberg, Harold C. (4 December 1969). "PIANO RECITAL GIVEN BY DI BONAVENTURA". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  10. ^ Henahan, Donal (4 October 1967). "DI BONAVENTURA PLAYS BEETHOVEN; Pianist Adds Some Bite to Concert by Philadelphians". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  11. ^ Holland, Bernard (8 May 1981). "Music Noted in Brief; Di Bonaventura, Pianist, Plays Early Debussy". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Anthony di Bonaventura, 83; piano prodigy taught at BU for four decades - The Boston Globe". The Boston Globe. November 18, 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Scarlatti sonatas played by Anthony di Bonaventura, Best Classical Music, Local Recording in Boston". Boston Magazine. 1991. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Anthony di Bonaventura". Steinway & Sons. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  15. ^ Times, Special To The New York (13 June 1953). "BARBER'S SON WED TO SARA ROOSEVELT; Granddaughter of President Is Married to A. di Bonaventura in Lower East Side Church". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "Roosevelt Genealogy". Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Mrs. Di Bonaventura Has Son". The New York Times. June 11, 1954. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Andrea di Bonaventura Bride in Lenox Of John A. Re, Buyer for Clothing Firms". The New York Times. 21 June 1981. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Sarina R. di Bonaventura Married to Philip S. Birsh". The New York Times. 15 May 1988. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  20. ^ "ANTHONY DI BONAVENTURA". The New York Times. November 15, 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
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