- Mark Savage
- BBC Music Correspondent
She gave her first recital at the age of four and now, at 97, former child prodigy Ruth Slenczynska will release a new album after signing a contract with record label Decca.
The pianist recorded “My Life In Music” last year, with music by Sergei Rachmaninoff y Frederic Chopin.
ticked the draft from “incredible” and added: “Who ever heard of a pianist my age making another album?”
Slenczynska turns 97 next Saturday and the throwing of your album sea On March 18th.
In the decade of the 20s of the last century he began to act and even then she was heralded as one of the greatest child prodigies since Mozart.
His concerts were “an electrifying experience”, wrote the New York Times after one of his first concerts, “something that nature has produced in one of her most generous moods.”
He debuted in Berlin at 6 years and in Paris at 7; and is considered to be Rachmaninoff’s last living student. Slenczynska often wears a pendant with a Fabergé egg, a gift from this master.
His other teachers were also legendary: Josef Hoffman, Alfred Cortot, Egon Petri The Artur Schnabel. In addition, he studied alongside Samuel Barber and was able to hear his world famous Adagio for strings in the classroom, even before he had his degree.
Played a four-hand Mozart duet with President Harry S. Truman, performed at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and was recognized by President Ronald Reagan as the first American woman to celebrate 50 years of career as a concert performer.
Born in Sacramento, California, her father, Josef Slenczynski, was a well-known violinist and director of the Warsaw Conservatory before being wounded during the First World War.
After moving to America, he decided to raise a successful musician and considered his daughter a potential pianist or violinist within hours of his birth.
At the age of 3 years was already versed in basic music theory and harmony, but the rigorous schedule of tours and practices imposed by his father caused great emotional stress and, a the age of 15 years, stopped acting.
In her 1957 autobiography, Forbidden Childhood, Slenczynska revealed how strict his father’s regimen had been.
“The reason people were amazed at what he could do at the piano was quite simple,” he wrote. “My father he made me practice nine hours a day, every day of the week”, revealed the pianist.
“If she showed signs of wanting to be an ordinary girl, like wanting to hug my sisters’ dolls or make a little noise or jump and run with the neighborhood kids, my father kicks me outba on top of his bucket of watera. Aicy wow: ‘That’s all baby stuff! You are not a baby. You are a musician. Stay away from those kids and their stupid games. It’s all a waste of time! You have to act like an adultThe. Up young lady.'”
After rejecting his career as a concert artist, completely separated from his father, enrolled in psychology at the University of California and ran away with a fellow student.
But he never stopped playing and went back a the stages in 1951, with a performance at the Carmel Bach Festival.
From then on, he made a tour with the Boston Pops orchestra for four years in which he enjoyed rivalry on the stage with director Arthur Fiedler.
“In the beginning, Mr. Fiedler got standing ovations and I didn’t,” she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1999. “By the third year I started getting them too. I learned how to handle an audience, how to let them know you’re glad to be there”.
Finally, there was a concert in Chicago where a reviewer praised Slenczynska at Fiedler’s expense, writing: “It is not servedn champagne and beer together”.
“After that, they didn’t renew me”he commented later. “There was room for only one star on that tour.”
Not being upset, recorded 10 brilliant LPs for Decca, showing his sense of drama and rhythmic control, especially when playing his specialty: the works of Chopin.
in 1961 wrote a book of text, “Music at Your Fingertips: Aspects of Pianoforte Technique,” which is still in vogue. Then he joined theto Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, first as an artist-in-residence and later as a faculty member.
To this day, she remains a fluent and lyrical performer and, during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020, climbed Home recordings of Beethoven’s sonatas to YouTube to celebrate its 250th anniversary.
Slenczynska too will celebrate his 97th birthday with a recital at Lebanon Valley College, in Pennsylvania (United States), on February 6.
“It is remarkable to think that Ruth did his concert debut before the birth of color films and around the same time as the birth of television,” said Laura Monks and Tom Lewis, Co-Chairmen of Decca Label Group.
“The fact that she is still at the top of her career more than nine decades later is extraordinary. It is very difficult to think of anyone, in any profession, who has achieved such a sustained period of excellence.”
Decca Classics label head Dominic Fyfe added: “We are privileged to have Ruth recording for Decca again, some 66 years after he first recorded for the label in New York.”
“One of her first producers was Thomas Frost and we were delighted to team her up with Thomas’ son David, the multiple Grammy Award-winning producer, for this new album,” added Fyfe.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.