Shura Cherkassky: the piano's last czar
Shura Cherkassky's life story, like his music, is provocative and captivating. At his death in 1995, Cherkassky was considered one of history's greatest pianists, as well as the last direct link to the Romantic piano tradition of Chopin, Liszt, and Rubinstein. His story merits telling not only for his musical achievements but also for the inspiration he provided by demonstrating tenacity, integrity, common sense, and uncommon courage. Cherkassky began his musical career in Ukrainian Odessa at a time of lethal civil strife. Escaping with his parents to America, the child prodigy came under the tutelage of famed pianist Josef Hofmann, whose unfailing personal and professional assistance continued for more than twenty years. He overcame poverty, prejudice against his Jewish origins, and unhappiness from his ambivalence over his homosexuality to forge an impressive touring and recording career, an enormous musical repertoire, and an intriguing personality both on stage and off. From his sensational 1923 American debut tour to sold-out concerts on six continents, Shura Cherkassky retained his brilliance throughout a seventy-five year professional career.
Through observations, anecdotes, sixteen pages of photos, and personal correspondence, this biography offers extensive research never before published and an intimate look at the man and his music.
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Shura and the Palmist the 19231924 Season
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American Anton Rubinstein appearance April archives Arthur Rubinstein artist asked audience backstage Baltimore Beethoven Carnegie Hall Cher Cherkas Cherkassky played Cherkassky's career child prodigy Chopin color composer concert conductor Conservatory critics Curtis Institute debut Decca described engagements Etude F-minor February Figure Fugue gave genius Godowsky heard HMV ALP Horowitz Huber Institute of Music Ivory Classics 72003 January Jorge Bolet Josef Hofmann kassky later Leningrad letter listen Liszt live London Lydia manager March Mary Bok Moscow mother musician never Nimbus November October Odessa Peabody Institute Pearl GEM 0138 pedal performance Philharmonic Philips 456 pianist piano playing piece practice Prelude Rachmaninoff recital repertoire RG 20.5 Cherkassky Romantic Rubinstein Russian season Shura Cherkassky soloist sound Steinway Steinway and Sons student Tchaikovsky Third Concerto told took tour trip Vladimir Horowitz wanted White House wonderful wrote young