Firkusny, Rudolf


Czech-born pianist noted for championing Czech composers’ works and for his chamber performances


Condition: Good, edges toned
Description: “(1912-1994) Moravian-born Czech-American classical pianist, began musical studies with composers Leos Janacek and Josef Suk and pianist Vilem Kurz. Later he studied with legendary pianists Alfred Cortot and Artur Schnabel and began performing in Europe in the 1920s. His London debut was in 1933, NY debut in 1938. Escaped Nazis in 1939, fled to Paris then to NYC, later becoming a US citizen.

Firkušný had a broad repertoire, performing works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Mussorgsky and Debussy. He became known especially for performances of Czech composers Smetana, Dvorak, Janacek, and Martinu (who wrote a number of works for him). He championed Dvorak’s only piano concerto which he played around the world and recorded several times. Firkušný was also a chamber player and prominently partnered with cellists Fournier, Piatigorsky, Starker, and Harrell; violinists Milstein and Morini; violist Primrose; and the Julliard String Quartet. He also gave many first performances of contemporary composers, incl. Howard Hanson, Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber, and Alberto Ginastera. He taught at the Juilliard, in Aspen, and at Tanglewood. Among his students were Yefim Bronfman and Carlisle Floyd, amongst others. After the fall of the communist Czech government in 1989, Firkušný returned to Czechoslovakia to perform for the first time after 40+ years. This was one of the major events of this festival, along with the return of his friend the conductor Rafael Kubelik.

He retained his remarkable talents well into his later years, playing a full Dvořák-Janáček-Brahms-Beethoven sonata recital in Prague in 1992 with violinist Joef Suk (namesake and grandson of his teacher and great-grandson of Dvořák). He played twice at the Prague Spring International Music Festival in 1946 and then in 1990.

In 2013, the Prague Spring Festival established the Rudolf Firkusny Piano Festival in Prague. His student Carlisle Floyd wrote his only Piano Sonata in the 50s for Firkušný who performed it once at Carnegie Hall; it was next taken up in 2009 by Daniell Revenaugh who studied it with the composer and made its first recording.

Signed blue-green 4 ½ x 5 ½ autograph album page, adding January 8 1958 date.

Type: Signed album page

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