ABRAM, JACQUES (1915–1998). Jacques Abram (born Jack Gregory Abram), concert pianist and teacher, was born on August 6, 1915, in Lufkin, Texas, the son of Harry Abram and Nell (Denman) Abram. His grandfathers, A. M. Denman (a physician) and Simon Abram (a merchant), were early settlers in Lufkin. At age three Abram, after watching an older cousin play a popular tune on the piano, played the instrument with both hands and repeated the music. Shortly thereafter, Abram's family moved to Houston where he studied piano with Mildred Foster, Hu T. Huffmaster, and Ruth Burr. At age six he appeared as a soloist with a Houston orchestra and performed Mozart's Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466. Also as a child, Abram became a protégé of Ima Hogg, an accomplished pianist, a cultural leader, and a founder of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Their friendship endured until her death in 1975. At age twelve Abram won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with David Saperton. Later Abram was a student of Ernest Hutcheson at the Juilliard Graduate School in New York City. As winner of the national Schubert Memorial Award in 1937, Abram made his professional debut in 1938 as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy in performances in Philadelphia and in Carnegie Hall in New York City. The success of these concerts won Abram a contract with the National Artists Corp., which booked him in concerts across the nation.
During World War II Abram served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and in the United States Army Air Corps. After the war he resumed his career and toured in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. A highlight of this period was his performance in 1949 of the United States premiere of Benjamin Britten's Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, and he recorded the concerto for His Master's Voice, the British arm of RCA Victor. This recording was later re-released under the EMI label. Abram also recorded for the Musical Heritage Society.
Abram taught at what is now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at Chickasha and at the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto. He moved to Tampa, Florida, in 1963 and for about thirty years taught at the University of South Florida. Late in life he suffered a neurological ailment in his right hand and an injury to his left hand that ended his ability to perform. Abram was married twice—to Dorothy Gregg and to Christine Dorsey. Abram had three children by his second wife. He died on October 5, 1998, in Tampa and is buried beside his parents in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.
Houston Chronicle, October 6, 1998. New York Times, October 17, 1998.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Lynwood Abram, "ABRAM, JACQUES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fab14), accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on May 6, 2014. Modified on September 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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