Ruth Slenczyska is a child prodigy pianist who turns 97 years old

She is a superb pianist, who began giving her first concert at the age of only 6. She is the last surviving pupil of the great master Rachmaninoff. On January 22, 2022 she turned 97 years old and will record a new album that will be on sale soon. Her name is Ruth Slenczyska. In 2021 she recorded “My Life In Music”, playing on piano the scores of Sergey Rachmaninoff and Frederic Chopin.

Ruth Slenczyska
Ruth Slenczyska-Image taken from
Ruth Slenczyska started on stage at the age of only 6 years old

She performed in concerts since the 1920s. She was considered one of the greatest child prodigies since Mozart. The New York Times called her concerts “an electrifying experience”.

Her stage debut took place in Berlin when she was only 6 years old. At the age of 8, he gave a concert in Paris. Rachmaninoff gave him a Fabergé egg, which he usually wears around his neck during his recitals.

However, Ruth had other equally famous teachers such as Josef Hoffman, Egon Petri, Artur Schnabel or Alfred Cortot. She had the privilege of playing piano four hands with the president of the United States. It was a Mozart piece sharing the piano with Harry S. Truman. He performed at John Kennedy’s inauguration as president. And another president, Ronald Reagan, said of her that she is the first American woman to celebrate 50 years as a concert pianist.

Her life was always linked to the piano

Ruth was born in Sacramento, California. Her father, Josef, was a famous violinist and Director of the Warsaw Conservatory. However, during World War I he was wounded and had to migrate to the United States. As soon as Ruth was born, Josef decided that the child would be a concert pianist or violinist.

At only three years of age, the child was versed in music theory and harmony. However, the rigors of her father’s teaching, touring and concerts caused her profound stress. So much so that at the age of 15 she stopped playing the piano.

Ruth Slenczyska

She published an autobiography in 1957 called Forbidden Childhood. In it she tells how rigorous and strict her father was with her concerts and her life in general. The excellence of her technique, according to her own account, was due to the fact that her father made her practice 9 hours a day all week long. When the girl pretended to play with her dolls or with other children, her father would throw a bucket of ice water on her.

The stress produced by this kind of life caused her to separate from her father. He entered the University of California to pursue a degree in psychology. Although she eloped with a student of that university.

Ruth never forgot the piano, however, and returned to concerts in 1951 at the Carmen Bach Festival. She toured for 4 years with the Boston Pops orchestra, rivaling conductor Arthur Fiedler. As a woman, she was always second to receive ovations.

She recorded 10 albums and wrote a book. She will soon hold a concert at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, USA. At the age of 97, this child prodigy continues to celebrate concerts and new albums.

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