Mr. Wild was known for a fearless ability at the keyboard, combining speed and attack with a singing legato line. He credited Arturo Toscanini for teaching him the discipline to understand great music, and his four years as a Metropolitan Opera repitateur with his love of operatic transcriptions. Mr. Wild received an installment in the landmark Great Pianists of the 20th Century series, which was devoted entirely to knuckle-busting operatic transcriptions, many of them of his own devising.
He was known around the world as a great interpreter of Liszt and Leopold Godowsky, whom he considered among his favorite composers. An eminent recording artist, he made records over the span of eight decades. His recorded repertoire included over 700 piano works, 35 concertos and 25 chamber pieces. Recently, his back catalogue and recent recordings have been issued on his own record label, Ivory Classics.
On a personal note, Mr. Wild was a gentleman, with a good sense of humor and a ready, self-deprecating wit. I was fortunate enough to interview him in 2007 for an article in the International Herald Tribune's Ear for Opera section. He gave freely of his time and admitted, as we closed the interview that, towards the end of his life, "I only practice a wee little bit."
The cause of death was congestive heart failure. He is survived by his companion of 38 years, Michael Rolland Davis.
For more about Earl Wild, check out his official website at EarlWild.com