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  English translation by John Hornsby of György Cziffra jr.'s French version of the Hungarian manuscript.

Cziffra and his son György (1959)


 Soleilka Cziffra

György Cziffra, a giant among pianists of the twentieth century, was born in Budapest on 5th November, 1921 and died on 15th January, 1994. Born with outstanding talent in circumstances of dire poverty ' such mixed fortunes were to be his lot all his life - he survived war, imprisonment, hard labour as a political prisoner, his hands and wrists seemingly permanently damaged, he survived to fight back and rebuild his career, improvising in nightclubs until in 1956 he escaped with his family to the West and became the idol of audiences and arned the admiration of colleagues as diverse as Alfred Cortot and Martha Argerich. However, a critical clique turned savagely against him, all the more when his wrists began to suffer under the strain of constant tours. Yet he achieved another dream: to create a foundation to help young musicians, which he did at Senlis, north east of Paris, buying an abandoned Royal Chapel where he set up the Franz Liszt Auditorium in homage to his hero and compatriot. Yet barely four years after the completion of these memoirs, the most terrible tragedy of all struck Cziffra and his wife, Soleilka, when their only son died in a fire in his home at the age of thirty-eight. Though he gradually made something of a comeback, the remaining years of Cziffra's life were chiefly spent auditioning and advising young musicians.

The welcome which Cziffra extends to his readers at the end of these memoirs to visit the Franz Liszt Auditorium at Senlis still stands. The Chapel Saint Frambourg was fully restored at last in 2001 when it was re-roofed in its original form. How proud Cziffra would have been to see it risen again in all its glory and now visible for miles around!

The first English edition of Cziffra's memoirs was published in 1996. Half the print-run was regrettably sent for pulping when the publisher sold up. We have taken the opportunity in this resurrected version to eliminate a certain number of misprints.

John Hornsby. March 2006

Introduction

Prelude and The Raft of Poverty

In the Circus Ring

The Pedlar's Prediction

Hail Caesar!

Jealousy is Dead

A Steam Engine for a Piano

Stalin Organs

Hungarian Rhapsody: a failure

White Nights

All or Nothing

Pilgrimage to Saint Frambourg - Dawn

 

 



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