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Rudolf Firkusny (1912 - 1994)

Neither of Firkušný’s parents was musical. His father died when Rudolf was four and at this time the boy was already picking out tunes on the piano. At five, his mother took him to Janáček at the Brno Conservatory who agreed to accept him as long as he gained a general education and did not lead the life of a child prodigy. He learnt the piano with Růzena Kurzová at the Brno Conservatory and from the age of six studied composition and theory with Janáček, who was a major influence on the young boy in the years from 1918 to 1928. At fourteen he went to the Prague Conservatory at Janáček’s suggestion, where he studied composition with Josef Suk, theory with Rudolf Karel and piano with Vilem Kurz; at his graduation he performed his own Piano Concerto. Firkušný then decided that he wanted to study with Schnabel and Cortot, but after playing for Cortot was refused as a pupil because Cortot thought he needed no further tuition. Cortot must have been impressed as he asked Firkušný to play in a concert he was conducting and to sit on the panel of judges for the final examinations at Cortot’s École Normale. After a year or so in Paris, Firkušný went to Italy to study with Schnabel. This last teacher had a great influence on him, in a musical rather than technical way.




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