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David Helfgott


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David Helfgott (born May 19, 1947) is an Australian concert pianist. He is as well-known for having schizoaffective disorder as for his piano playing.

He was born in Melbourne to Polish-Jewish parents. He became known as a child prodigy after his father started teaching him the piano when he was six. When he was ten years old he studied under Frank Arndt, a Perth piano teacher, and won several local competitions, sometimes alone and sometimes with his elder sister Margaret Helfgott.

When David was fourteen, various interested people such as Perth composer James Penberthy and writer Katharine Susannah Prichard, raised money to enable him to go to the United States to study music. However, his father denied him permission, on the grounds that he was not ready for independence (and presumably the indications of mental illness).

When he was nineteen, he won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, England for three years, where he studied under Cyril Smith.

During his time in London he began showing more definite manifestations of mental illness. His doctor in Australia, Chris Reynolds, whom he met some twenty years later, said that he suffers from an acute anxiety neurosis. He returned to Perth in 1970, and married his first wife, Clara, in 1971. He also took part in several Australian Broadcasting Corporation concerts. After his marriage broke down he was institutionalised in Graylands, a Perth mental hospital. Over the next ten years, he underwent psychiatric treatment which included psychotropic medication and electroconvulsive therapy.

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  • majovimo

    One of my favourite composers :)

    2 Apr 2014 Reply
  • kato1984

    Great music and a really good movie!

    8 Feb 2012 Reply
  • late-tickets

    I have two Tickets for his concert tomorrow in Wiena. If someone needs them i can drive them to Wiena, or on some other place near Slovenia. For other info please writte me on

    13 Oct 2010 Reply
  • fakemaryjane

    er kommt!

    2 Sep 2009 Reply
  • M3nT4T73

    Nothing in common with the extremely better four recordings of Rach 3 by Vladimir Ashkenazy...Helfgott is an overrated pianist.

    25 Apr 2009 Reply
  • dionysis82

    Poor guy, so unlucky.

    12 Dec 2008 Reply
  • pikalurven

    Excellent movie,Nice music !

    13 Jul 2006 Reply

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