Rudolf Serkin

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Rudolf Serkin, 1962
Rudolf Serkin (r.) And Adolf Busch . ( Hilda Wiener , 1935)

Rudolf Serkin (born March 28, 1903 in Cheb ; † May 8, 1991 in Guilford , Vermont ) was an Austrian pianist with American citizenship.


He was the fifth of eight children of the Russian singer Mardko Serkin . Despite the family's economic difficulties, Serkin's artistic talent developed. A patron took care of the ten-year-old and made contact with his most influential teacher, Arnold Schönberg . At the age of twelve, Serkin began his concert career in Vienna with a highly acclaimed performance of Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G minor. In 1920 he embarked on a major solo career in Berlin .

In 1933 he had to leave Nazi Germany because of his Jewish origins . He went to Switzerland. In 1932 Adolf Busch moved to the Schnitterweg in Riehen near Basel into a semi-detached house that he had designed himself. The other half moved in to Rudolf Serkin, who married Busch's daughter Irene in 1935.

In January 1939 Serkin reached his first country of exile, Kenya. Together with his wife and sister Lotte and her husband Oswald Fischer (theater director from Vienna). The Serkin couple lived with the Austrian couple Bauer, both refugees from Vienna, for a year. The Serkins were completely destitute and at first couldn't find work in Kenya.

In 1939 the Buschs and the Serkins emigrated to the USA and settled in Guilford near Brattleboro (Vermont). They soon founded the “Busch Serkin Trio” together with Hermann Busch . From 1939 Serkin taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which he also directed from 1968 to 1977. Together with Adolf Busch he founded the Marlboro Music Festival in 1951 , which takes place in Marlboro , Vermont. In 1960, Serkin was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1983 to the American Philosophical Society .

Serkin was a pianist who did not cause a stir because of his eccentricity, but who was characterized by clear and tense playing. Schoenberg student on the one hand and a convincing interpreter of the classical repertoire on the other - that was not a contradiction in terms for Serkin. He always understood modernity and topicality independently of the life dates of individual composers. Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms or Reger - under his hands they always became current composers, their works a musical experience of the present.

A later high point in his career was the unfinished cycle of piano concertos by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart under Claudio Abbado , which was recorded in London in the early 1980s . Rudolf Serkin was the father of the pianist Peter Serkin .


In August 2017 the music producer Robert Russ published a 75 CD anthology of the pianist's entire recordings for the American label Columbia Masterworks "A sprawling collection" " under the title Rudolf Serkin - The Complete Columbia Album Collection ( David Mermelstein : The Wall Street Journal , October 17, 2017), which was awarded the Diapason d'or de l'année on November 22, 2017 at the Maison de la Radio in Paris .



Web links

Commons : Rudolf Serkin  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Memoirs of Ida Bauer. (Private print) In: Kenya National Archives. BN / 46/63.
  2. Helmut Mauró : Genius of Obsession. Süddeutsche Zeitung , September 12, 2017, accessed on October 16, 2017 .
  3. ^ History. Marlboro Music Festival, accessed October 16, 2017 .
  4. ^ Member History: Rudolf Serkin. American Philosophical Society, accessed February 8, 2019 .
  5. Discogs Publication No. 10849010. November 22, 2017, accessed March 5, 2019 .
  6. David Mermelstein: 'Rudolf Serkin: The Complete Columbia Album Collection' Review (in English). The Wall Street Journal, October 17, 2017, accessed March 5, 2019 .
  7. Palmarès 2017 of the "Diapason d'or" de l'année (French). Diapason & France Musique , November 22, 2017, accessed March 5, 2019 .