In addition to the five Grammy Awards that Wilcox won as a producer, the recordings that he produced won 17 awards.
Max Wilcox, a classical record producer and engineer who won five Grammy Awards, and whom the pianist Arthur Rubinstein called his musical collaborator, died on Jan. 20 in Seattle. He was 88.
The cause was complications of a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Scot Robinson, said.
For 17 years, until Rubinstein’s retirement in 1976, Mr. Wilcox produced some 60 of his recordings for RCA Victor Red Seal. He counted Rubinstein’s recordings of Chopin’s repertoire among his favorite productions.
His other favorites included recordings of Beethoven by the pianist Richard Goode and the Emerson String Quartet.
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In addition to the Grammy Awards Mr. Wilcox won as a producer, the recordings that he produced won 17 awards.
Mr. Wilcox came from a musical family and was himself an accomplished pianist; his performances included one in 1973 with Rubinstein and the Liverpool Philharmonic. He also conducted, at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere.
While he never considered himself a “techie,” as he put it, he advanced several technical developments as a recording engineer, including the use of omnidirectional microphones to emulate concert-hall acoustics.
As an engineer, it was his job to position the microphones before each session and, once the recording was completed, to splice together the best version of however many takes had been performed. Rubinstein, he said, trusted his judgment entirely.
“Arthur Rubinstein never chose a take in his life with me,” Wilcox told the Los Angeles Times in 2007.
Max George Wilcox was born Dec. 27, 1928, in Kalamazoo, Mich. His father, Cecil, was a struggling entrepreneur who sold ice cut from Lake Michigan and later invented a foot balm. His mother, the former Maxine Shand, was a retail saleswoman who played the saxophone in a touring family band with Max’s grandmother and aunt.
He decided he wanted to become a record producer, he said, when he was 12, and started avidly collecting classical records. His grandmother taught him to play the piano. Mr. Wilcox received a bachelor’s degree in music from Western Michigan College (now Western Michigan University) and a master’s from Columbia University, and studied under the pianist and composer Eduard Steuermann. He enlisted in the Army and served in the intelligence branch.
His marriages to Carol Thompson and Judith Sherman ended in divorce. In addition to his son, Scot, and a daughter, Jennifer Wells, both from his first marriage, he is survived by two grandchildren. (Another son, David, died recently.)
Mr. Wilcox joined RCA Victor as a sound editor in 1958 and later moved up to engineer and then producer. The prominent artists he produced there, in addition to Rubinstein, included Itzhak Perlman; Gregor Piatigorsky; Peter Serkin; Van Cliburn; the Guarneri and Cleveland Quartets; Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony.
After leaving RCA to become an independent producer in 1974, he worked with Dawn Upshaw, Richard Stoltzman, Zubin Mehta, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Tokyo Quartet, the Beaux-Arts Trio, Deborah Voigt and others.
Mr. Wilcox considered all his sessions with Rubinstein memorable, but some were more memorable than others. In 1963, for example, the maestro, then 76, was scheduled to record over several days at a studio in Rome.
Playing the affable host as if he were at home, Rubinstein started at 6:45 one summer evening and, pleased with the results, kept going. By 11:15 p.m., all 14 Chopin waltzes had been recorded.
“We were all limp — but not Rubinstein,” Mr. Wilcox recalled. “The party on the Via Veneto lasted until 2:30 a.m.”