Count Géza Zichy
by on January 15, 2024 in 2024

My great-grandfather, Count Géza Zichy, died 100 years ago yesterday.Here’s a very brief summary of his life (from Wikipedia). If you are interested, you can find out more about him on various (classical music) websites on the Internet.Géza Zichy (23 July 1849 – 14 January 1924) was a Hungarian composer and was also renowned as the world’s first professional one-armed pianist.Zichy was born in Sztára Castle in 1849. He came from a noble family and held the title Count Vázsony-Keö. Zichy lost his right arm in a hunting accident at age 14. Instead of despair, he doubled his strive, to form himself into a true piano virtuoso. “I closed the door,” he says in his memoirs, “and got dressed alone. The door handle, the furniture, my legs, my teeth all helped. At lunch, I did not eat any food that I could not cut myself and did not accept the slightest service. Today I peel apples, cut my nails myself, dress alone, ride, drive four-in-hand, I am a good hunter with bullets and buckshot, and I even learned to play the piano a bit. You can be independent with one hand, you just have to know how.” He persevered by writing and performing piano music for the left hand. In 1873 he began six years of study with Franz Liszt. He also studied under Robert Volkmann] In spite of his limitations, Zichy had a successful career as both a concert pianist and a composer for the next 40 years. He gave entire concerts playing music only for the left hand, the proceeds of which he gave to charity as he was independently wealthy. He was known for his artistic sensitivity as well as dexterous playing and had several admirers; including Franz Liszt who wrote glowing reviews of his performances in letters to friends. The Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, who pulled no punches, said Zichy’s playing was “the greatest marvel of modern times on the piano”. From 1891 to 1894 he was Intendant of the Royal Hungarian Opera. His appointment spelled the end of Gustav Mahler’s term as music director. He died in Budapest in 1924, aged 74.Zichy’s compositions are also part of the repertoire of British pianist




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