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Rudolf Firkusny


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Rudolf Firkusny (Czech: Rudolf Firkušný, IPA: [ˈrʊdolf ˈfɪrkʊʃni:]) (11 February 1912-19 July 1994) was a Czech-American pianist with an elegant style.

Born in Moravian Napajedla, Firkušný started his musical studies with the composers Leoš Janáček and Josef Suk, and the pianist Vilém Kurz. Later he studied with Alfred Cortot and Artur Schnabel. He began performing on the continent of Europe in the 1920s, and made his debuts in London in 1933 and New York in 1938. He escaped the Nazis in 1939, fled to Paris, later settled in New York and became a US citizen.

Firkušný was one of the great concert pianists of the 20th century. He had a broad repertoire and performed with skill the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms as well as Debussy or Mussorgsky. However, he became known especially for his performances of the Czech composers Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů who wrote a number of works for him. He recorded the complete piano works of Janáček and championed Dvořák’s only piano concerto. Originally he performed revised version made by his teacher Kurz, and even arranged it further, yet in the end he came back to the original Dvorak’s score. He was also a devoted chamber player and among his most prominent partners figure cellists Pierre Fournier and Janos Starker, violinists Nathan Milstein and Erika Morini, violist William Primrose or the Julliard String Quartet. He also gave many first performances of contemporary composers, not only Czech like his friends Bohuslav Martinu or Vitezslava Kapralova, but also of Howard Hanson, Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber or Alberto Ginastera.

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