By Kevin Bazzana
The award-winning writer of Wondrous Strange, the severely acclaimed biography of Glenn Gould, explores the weird, untold lifetime of one other terrific and kooky musician.
The composer Arnold Schoenberg referred to as him an “utterly amazing” pianist of “incredible originality and conviction,” but this present day he's all yet forgotten. Born in Budapest in 1903, Ervin Nyiregyházi (nyeer-edge-hah-zee) used to be a amazing prodigy: at 8 he played at Buckingham Palace, and while he used to be 13 a psychologist released a e-book approximately him. In his youngsters, his idiosyncratic, intensely Romantic enjoying electrified audiences and astounded critics in Europe and the USA. yet his grownup occupation speedy foundered, and he used to be diminished to penury.
In 1928, he settled in la, and at last he withdrew from public existence, who prefer to spend his time quietly composing. Psychologically, he remained a toddler, and located the normal calls for of way of life exhausting — he struggled even to decorate himself. He drank seriously, used to be insatiable sexually (he married ten times), and defined himself as “a fortissimo bastard,” but such used to be his expertise and air of secrecy that he numbered between his buddies and champions celebrities similar to Jack Dempsey, Theodore Dreiser, Bela Lugosi, and Gloria Swanson. Rediscovered within the Seventies, he loved a short, sensational, and debatable renaissance earlier than slipping again into obscurity. He died in 1987.
Lost Genius, the fabricated from ten years’ examine, is the 1st biography of Nyiregyházi, whose tale is likely one of the so much interesting — and weird — in twentieth-century track.
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Extra info for Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick
Before he was three, his father discovered that the boy had perfect pitch: he could correctly locate on the piano any note that was sung to him, and could reproduce sung melodies on a mouth organ. When he was three, he began to play the melodies he heard on the piano, and was soon improvising his own tunes, some with accompaniment. He learned the principles of notation in a single sitting in May 1906. His father had told him the plot of Madama Butterfly - Puccini was in town for a festival of his operas, including the Hungarian première of Butterfly - and though Ervin had not yet heard any music from the opera, he was inspired to sit on the floor in front of the toy piano he had recently been given, wearing what he remembered as “a little girl’s dress,” and picked out a tune.
Ervin Nyiregyházi really was a lost genius; his talent really was as great as his life and personality were strange. Even long after the early ruin of his career, knowledgeable listeners who chanced upon him playing were stunned by what they heard. One of them was no less a figure than the composer Arnold Schoenberg. On December 1, 1935, early in his self-imposed exile in America, Schoenberg attended a soirée in Pacific Palisades at the home of his friend Rolf Hoffmann, a professor of German literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, for the express purpose of hearing Nyiregyházi play.
Alfred also demonstrated some musical gifts, including a good memory, and Ervin was impressed by his natural appreciation of music. Alfred wanted to play the piano, but the family already had a pianist, his mother said, so he was compelled to study the violin. ) Mária believed that her younger son had the potential to be a fine musician, and Alfred kept at the violin for some time: a friend who knew him in his teens and early twenties remembered playing chamber music with him. In any event, Ervin adored his brother, and was not jealous of or condescending toward him.