Joseph Banowetz, 87, of Frisco, a Grammy-nominated pianist and keyboard studies faculty member whose music was celebrated around the world, died July 3.
Banowetz, who retired in May after teaching at UNT for 49 years, performed in more than 35 countries and appeared on 40 commercial recordings -- winning the title of “a giant among keyboard artists of our time” from Fanfare Record Review. He earned Grammy nominations in 2007 for Best Chamber Music Performance with Balakirev: 30 Songs of the Russian People and in 2010 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Kletzki: Piano Concerto in D minor, Opus 22.
He also received the Pan American Prize from the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., the 1987 West German Music Critics Award and the 1992 Budapest Hungarian Liszt Society Liszt Medal. In 1984, he became the first foreign artist to be invited by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to record and give world premiere performances of a contemporary Chinese concerto -- Piano Concerto, Opus 25b, by An-lun Huang.
His illustrious career began when he studied in New York City with Carl Friedberg, a pupil of Clara Schumann. György Sándor, a student of Béla Bartók, was among his teachers at the Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wein in Vienna, Austria, from which he graduated, and at Southern Methodist University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He also earned a master’s degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
His work extended beyond performance. He was an expert on the music of the Russian Romantic composer Anton Rubinstein, and he wrote numerous books that were used as standard reference guides for students. His Pianist's Guide to Pedaling won the Outstanding Academic Book of the Year Award in 1985.
He is survived by his husband, Alton Chan (’82, ’94 Ph.D.).