Leonard Pennario dies at 83

Pianist was a Grammy winner

Pianist and best-selling classical recording artist Leonard Pennario has died. He was 83.
Pennario died Friday at his home in La Jolla from complications due to Parkinson’s disease, according to his biographer Mary Kunz Goldman.

Pennario, who won a Grammy in the 1960s, was a passionate performer who enjoyed playing in front of a live audience, Kunz said.

“You have to play for the people, you have to play for an audience,” she recalled Pennario saying. “You can’t just go into the studio and make records, you know?”

Pennario was born in Buffalo on July 9, 1924 and moved to Los Angeles with his family at age 10. At age 12, he learned the Grieg Concerto in one week so he could perform it from memory with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Pennario never attended a music conservatory but at 19 made his debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. He would eventually go on to play with violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, winning accolades for his work.

Between 1950 and 1960 Pennario made more than 40 recordings for the Capitol record label. He went on to make more than 20 more for other labels.

Pennario is survived by his brother, Joseph Pennario.