Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Mozart in the 20th Century?

When Mozart was eight, he was already heralded throughout portions of Europe, and by age eleven had been established as a major force in music.
I can remember, as a youth, the same kind of furor evolving around another child - I had just finished reading Marcia Davenport's biography of Mozart when another sensational child appeared before my consciousness. Her name was Ruth Slenczynska, who dazzled the concert world with her debut at age eight, and by age eleven had already performed with an established symphony orchestra.
So, in my mind, I was seeing the revivifying of the Mozart legend before my very eyes. This young girl was being rapidly recognized as a coming major force in the world of music, much in the same manner as I witnessed in the ascent of the tot Mozart in Davenport's book.
As a child, Slenczynska studied with some of the world's great musicians, as well as receiving a statement of the highest praise from the likes of Artur Rubinstein - she actually performed for the legendary Rachmaninoff.
But, by age fifteen, she had retired from the concert stage; totally "burned out", chiefly as a result of the veritably tyrannical pressures inflicted upon her by her father during the formative years, much in the manner of the treatment inflicted upon the young Beethoven by his father (though she was not beaten, such as was the case with the young Beethoven) - it was too much for her, and she disappeared. The fair hopes for an unparalleled career disappeared.
Later, she re-appeared at the University of Southern Illinois, and eventually settled in Japan, where recordings have been made. I believe that she is still with us.

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