child musical prodigies : Ervin Nyiregyházi

Child Musical Prodigies: Ervin Nyiregyházi (Hungary, 1903-87)

Figure 1.--This is Ervin at about age 10 years in 1913.

Ervin was born in Budapest to a family of Jewish ancestry. He began playing the piano as a todler. He was by age 6 playing the works of the great masyers. He also from an early age was an avid reader, devouring the classics. He had perfect pitch and good memorize even long, complicated pieces after playing it a few times. As an elderly man he claimed to have committed over 3,000 pieces to memory. He began composing piano pieces from an early age and continued do so his entire life. He gave his first public performance at age 6. The European music community had proclaimed him another Mzart by age 10. And a psycholgist studying child prodiges published a lengthy tome about him. [Révész] Ervin at age 12 seem to have becom enamored with Liszt. His music tastes turned to heavy, brooding music. He focused on "deep sonorities and slow temps, and began to plumb new depths of expression". [Bazzana] As a teenager he toured Europe to great acclaim. He was a special favorite in Berlin. He let his hair grow long, He seemed posed to become one of Rurope's great classical pianists. After World War I he began to object to the control of his mother who served as his business manager. He escaped by taking a trip to America (1920). This proved to be the beginning of his demise. He was terribly mismnagedcin Ameruca by R.E. Johnston who was more f a traveling salesman. Eventually Nyiregyházi was no longer playing in important venues. He suported himseld by playing a gangster parties and church receptions, where ever he good ear a few dollars. He lived in flop houses. He became forgotten by the serious music community. He became adicted to sex. He marred 10 times, but a habitual user of prostitutes and a eavy drinker--preferring vodka. There were a few successes. He played for te sound track of "The Beast with Five Fingers". He gave a successful concert in Los Angeles as the masked, mysterious Mr. X. He was rediscovered to an extent in the 1970s and recorded several records.


Bazzana, Kevin. Lost Genius: The Curious and Tragic Story of an Extrodinary Musicam Prodigy (Carrol & Graf, 2007), 383p.

Révész, Géza. The Psychology of a Musical Prodigy.


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Created: 6:43 PM 11/9/2007
Last updated: 6:43 PM 11/9/2007