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Cedille Celebrates the Legacy of its First Artist

Jim Ginsburg called Dmitry Paperno one evening in 1989 and asked whether he’d be interested in making a recording. Jim wanted to launch a classical record label, and he had listened to tapes of Paperno’s performances he had received from audio engineer Bill Maylone. (Jim was an entering law student at the University of Chicago at the time.) Paperno was watching David Letterman that night and didn’t want to be disturbed. Jim persisted nonethless.

Dmitry Paperno chaired the DePaul University School of Music’s piano faculty after emigrating from the Soviet Union in the late 1970s. When Jim asked him why, a decade later, he hadn’t recorded any albums since making a couple of LPs when he first arrived, Dmitry’s said simply, “Nobody asked me.”

Dmitry Paperno (left) with producer Jim Ginsburg (right) and engineer Bill Maylone (center) at a Cedille Records recording session
Dmitry Paperno (left) with producer Jim Ginsburg (right) and engineer Bill Maylone (center) at a Cedille Records recording session

As the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich recently wrote, Dmitry Paperno “launched his career in a Soviet system that crushed spirits, sanctioned anti-Semitism and demeaned artists of his considerable stature (he was a laureate at the fifth International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1955).”

Paperno released seven albums with Cedille. That first recording, Dmitry Paperno Plays Russian Piano Music, earned this from legendary critic Richard Freed in Stereo Review:

“All the performances convey the most affectionate conviction . . . [Paperno’s approach] gains a touch of poetry . . . in the least aggressive way: You feel the pianist is really finding it in the music rather than imposing it from the outside. It’s a lovely program lovingly presented. The sound quality, too, is first rate.”

That first recording launched a record label and began a 30-year relationship with one of the great Russian pianists of our time.

Dmitry Paperno died on October 12, 2020 at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren. He will be missed, but his music will live on through the students he taught, the musical memories he created and, of course, his recordings.



Named one of the greatest string quartets of the last 100 years by BBC Music Magazine, the Grammy-nominated Dover Quartet’s critically acclaimed epic traversal of Beethoven’s Complete String Quartets, including Vol. 1: The Opus 18 Quartets (2020), Vol. 2: The Middle Quartets (2021), and Vol. 3: The Late Quartets (2022), is now available as a specially priced 8-disc boxed set (price of 3 CDs).

Monthly Playlist

For the month of Thanksgiving, 50 pieces whose lyrics (actual or implied) give thanks to or praise God. Especially featured is mid-20th century Chicago composer Leo Sowerby’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning hymn of praise, The Canticle of the Sun, whose movements are interspersed through the playlist.

Album of the Week

Enjoy 25% off of Cedille’s Featured Release

Listen Now

On this episode of Classical Chicago, Cedille President Jim Ginsburg talks with Chicago a cappella Artistic Director John William Trotter about his experience recording Cedille’s latest release, Miracle of Miracles — Music for Hanukkah. The album features a collection of songs from more than 25 years of Chicago a cappella performances, arranged into a single program that replays the story of Hanukkah.