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Eugene Istomin (1925 - 2003)


Eugene Istomin’s first studies were with Kiriena Siloti, daughter of Liszt pupil Alexander Siloti, who discovered Istomin as a child prodigy at the age of six. He then studied at Mannes College of Music in New York before entering the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at the age of twelve where he studied with Mieczysław Horszowski and Rudolf Serkin. When he was seventeen, Istomin won the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Youth Competition and the Leventritt Award, making his debut in 1943 with both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21 and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat Op. 83.

Through his connection with Rudolf Serkin, Istomin played with the Busch Chamber Players. Adolf Busch had, in fact, been on the jury of the Leventritt Award and through working with Istomin had formed a strong musical bond with the young man. At the Prades Festival, in which Istomin first took part in 1950, Istomin formed a similar relationship with cellist Pablo Casals. At the end of his first festival he stayed on as long as possible to read through as much of the repertoire as he could with Casals. In 1952 he took over the organisation of the festival from violinist Alexander Schneider for three years, and visited Casals whenever he was able in order to make music.

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