Ervin Nyiregyhazi, Pianist
Ervin Nyiregyhazi Gives recital in Novato, CA
By Bill Knorp, The AMICA, V. 10, No 9, Sept 1973
The magnificent setting for Ervin Nyiregyhazi's recital on July 29th was the home of Ron and Pam Antonioli. Seventy-five invited guests which included professional musicians, students and real music lovers listened with deep concentration while Mr. Nyiregyhazi played a varied program of unusual masterpieces. Some of the compositions are not often performed today-and some of them have seldom sounded as if they contained such depth and musical meaning as that which came to light when played by this musical genius of the first magnitude.
The program is as follows, the only change being in the second half of the program where Mr. Nyiregyhazi performed a deeply moving and also dazzlingly brilliant interpretation of Schubert's "Wanderer Fantasie," one of the greats in piano literature.
The superbly played encore was a"Romance" by Tschaikowsky, an unbelievably beautiful and poetic rendering of this well-known composition.
The audience included the famous Metropolitan and San Francisco opera tenor Frederick Jagel, and a number of AMICA members were present, including John Lyon (who flew up from L.A.), the Alf Werolins, the Stewart Humes, Bill Reed, the Roy Peeks, and more. Also it was good to see Gregor Benko, whose magnificent work for the International Piano Library is well known.
After the momentous musical program, the enrapt audience was treated to superb hors d'ouvres and champagne, and some AMICAns crowded around the 9 foot Steinway concert grand to take pictures of Mr. Nyiregyhazi. At this time he graciously signed some of his Ampico recordings.
The experience was one of great musical importance and a golden opportunity to hear one of the true geniuses in the Liszt tradition. It was a truly profound and moving experience, and an unforgettable one.
Honorary Member, Ervin Nyiregyhazi passed away April 8, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. Born in Budapest, January 19, 1903, Mr. Nyiregyhazi began to play the piano at the age of two and compose at four. He was a child prodigy in Europe, and then a young virtuoso in Germany and the United States. He made his American debut October 18, 1920, at Carnegie Hall, and created a sensation. Two more recitals had to be added to accommodate the demand for tickets.
After several years of fame, his career faded and he increasingly withdrew from public life. In 1973, admirers persuaded him to play a recital at Old First Church in San Francisco. The program included several difficult pieces by Liszt that he had not played for 50 years. Yet, he played them to critical acclaim. A tape of this performance came to the attention of the head of The International Piano Archives, and a recording project was arranged. Gregor Benkq President of the International Piano Archives, called him "one of the Greatest Pianists in History" when the I.P.A. and the Ford Foundation recorded his playing in 1978. He was said to be the last living exponent of the great Romantic school of piano playing.
Mr. Nyiregyhazi made twelve reproducing piano rolls for the AMPICO, in the 1920 era.
A number of AMICAns, in the California area were fortunate enough to hear him at several recitals given in the seventies.
He is survived by his wife, Doris. The world is the poorer for his passing.
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