Ruth Slenczynska, American pianist; b.Sacramento, Calif, Jan. 15, 1925.
Her father, Joseph Slenczynski, a violinist, imposed a rigorous and
disciplinary practice routine on her beginning at age three. She
began her piano studies in Europe at age four and took lessons with Arthur
Schanabel, Egon Petri, Alfred Cortot, Joseph Hofmann, and even performed
for Sergei Rachmaninoff. She performed her debut in Berlin at age six, and
made her debut in Paris with a full orchestra at age eleven. She became
an instant musical sensation in Europe, heralded as the first child prodigy
since Mozart. However, the strain of practice and the touring schedule imposed
upon her by her father caused great emotional stress upon her, and by the age
of fifteen she withdrew from performing.
Ms.Slenczynska applied and was accepted to the University of California where she met fellow student George Born.The two eloped after a short engagement in 1944 and remained married until 1953 when the marriage ended in divorce. In 1954 the artist resumed her concert career and established herself as a pianist of impeccable technique and considerable musical insight. In 1964 she accepted a full time position at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville as Artist- in-Residence, a title she retained until 1987.Ms.Slenczynska married in 1967 to Dr.James Kerr, a professor of political science at SIUE. She published a book of memoirs, Forbidden Childhood(N.Y., 1957), which deals with life as a child prodigy, and a book on piano technique, Music at Your Fingertips: Aspects of Pianoforte Technique(N.Y., 1961).
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