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Gyorgy Cziffra (1921 - 1994)

A remarkable prodigy, Gyorgy Cziffra received tuition from his father, and by the age of five was improvising in public. His family was extremely poor and performances at the local circus benefited the family income. Fortunately, at the age of nine Cziffra entered the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest studying with Ernő Dohnányi. By the age of twelve Cziffra was again performing in public, giving concerts in many of Hungary’s principal cities. In 1937 he played in Holland and Scandinavia but was conscripted into the army in the autumn of 1942. His unbearable treatment is chronicled in his autobiography Cannons and Flowers. Worse was to follow when he was captured and taken prisoner. Of this period he wrote, ‘Looking back from afar over that period of my life, I can take a more balanced view of the ravages of that hideous cancer of the mind which grew perniciously until it almost transformed me into a living corpse.’ The privations were intolerable, but worse was the fact that Cziffra did not see a piano for this whole nightmare period of his life.




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