Rudolf Serkin

Rudolf Serkin (March 28, 1903 - May 8, 1991) was a Bohemian-born pianist. He was born in Cheb (Eger), Bohemia (now Czech Republic) to a Russian-Jewish family. Hailed as a child prodigy, Serkin was sent to Vienna at the age of nine, where he studied piano with Richard Robert and, later, composition with Joseph Marx making his public debut with the Vienna Philharmonic at 12. From 1918 to 1920 he studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg and participated actively in Schoenberg's Society for the Private Performance of Music. ...show more

Rudolf Serkin (March 28, 1903 - May 8, 1991) was a Bohemian-born pianist. He was born in Cheb (Eger), Bohemia (now Czech Republic) to a Russian-Jewish family. Hailed as a child prodigy, Serkin was sent to Vienna at the age of nine, where he studied piano with Richard Robert and, later, composition with Joseph Marx making his public debut with the Vienna Philharmonic at 12. From 1918 to 1920 he studied composition with Arnold Schoenberg and participated actively in Schoenberg's Society for the Private Performance of Music.

He began a regular concert career in 1920, living in Berlin with violinist Adolf Busch and his family, which included a then three-year-old daughter Irene, whom Serkin would marry 15 years later. Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, Serkin performed throughout Europe both as soloist and with Busch and the Busch Quartet. With the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, Serkin and the Busches left Berlin for Switzerland. In 1933 Serkin made his first United States appearance at the Coolidge Festival in Washington, DC, where he performed with Adolf Busch.

In 1936 he launched his solo concert career in the U. S. with the New York Philharmonic under Arturo Toscanini. The critics raved, describing him as "an artist of unusual and impressive talents in possession of a crystalline technique, plenty of power, delicacy, and tonal purity." Although Serkin himself admitted to having problems with his octave technique, his technical foundation was generally very solid.[1] In 1937, Serkin played his first New York recital at Carnegie Hall. ...show less