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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Cherkassky, Shura

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Shura Cherkassky (1909 - 1995)


Most reference works list Cherkassky’s date of birth as 1911, but his birth certificate, in the possession of his agent, proves that he was, in fact, born in 1909. The reason for the discrepancy is that Cherkassky was a child prodigy, and on his arrival in America, a child aged twelve was more bankable than an adolescent of fourteen. His father came from Bilotserkov, a town near Kiev, and was a dentist in Odessa, whilst his mother was from Tulchine in the Ukraine. It was his mother, an amateur pianist herself, who taught young Shura until the family emigrated to America in 1922. The first professional pianist Cherkassky heard, in Odessa at the age of three or four years, was Simon Barere. More than seventy years later Cherkassky could still remember the way Barere played the opening chords of Schumann’s Études Symphoniques Op. 13. On their arrival in America the Cherkassky family went to Baltimore where there lived a relative by the name of Julius Bloom. The director of the Baltimore Conservatory heard young Shura and arranged a recital, and two more sold-out recitals led to a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

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