2012 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music)
For over 35 years, concert pianist Janina Fialkowska has been enchanting audiences and critics around the world with her lyrical interpretations of the classical and Romantic repertoire, particularly Chopin, Mozart and Liszt. She has appeared as a guest soloist with prestigious international ensembles, and her discography includes several JUNO-nominated recordings. As the founder of the Piano Six music outreach program, she has championed works by Canadian composers and brought the joy of live classical music to thousands of Canadians living in remote communities.
Ms. Fialkowska was born in Montreal in 1951 and studied piano in Montreal, Paris (with Yvonne Lefébure) and New York (at the Juilliard School with Sascha Gorodnitzki). She made her debut as a piano soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11, and placed first in the 1969 CBC National Talent Festival.
Her career was launched in 1974, when renowned pianist Arthur Rubinstein became her mentor after her prize-winning performance at his inaugural Master Piano Competition. Since then she has performed with the foremost orchestras in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and has won special recognition for a series of important premieres, notably Liszt’s newly discovered Third Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony in 1990.
As the founding director (1993) of the Chalmers Award-winning Piano Six project and its successor, Piano Plus, she has brought some of Canada’s greatest classical music artists together with Canadians who, for geographical or financial reasons, would otherwise be unable to experience this calibre of live performance.
In 2002 Ms. Fialkowska developed a malignant tumour in her left arm. Undaunted, she transcribed and performed (with her right hand) the left-hand concertos of Ravel and Prokofiev. After successful surgery, she resumed her two-handed career in 2004.
“My thing about playing the piano is the lyricism,” she says. “That’s why I’m so happy playing Mozart, Chopin, Liszt and Schumann, because that’s where I find that lyricism. I feel I’m doing what I was meant to do in life, what I can do well.”
Other awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (2001), the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award (2007), the Turzanski Foundation Award (2011), and honorary doctorates from Acadia and Queen’s Universities.
[Photo of Fialkowska with Governor General David Johnston]
|[Items from two newspapers about
this Liszt discovery.]
150-Year Wait For a Lost Liszt
Two-continent debut will feature 1839 piano concerto.
By Laura Van Tuyl, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / May 3, 1990
Audience members will be on the edge of their seats when a piano concerto by Franz Liszt receives its world premiere tonight in Chicago's Orchestra Hall. Performance of the "new" work has been eagerly awaited by music enthusiasts and Liszt historians, ever since 1988, when a doctoral student from the University of Chicago announced he had stumbled upon missing manuscripts while doing research in Europe.
``It's a huge find,'' says pianist Janina Fialkowska, reached by phone, who will play the work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of associate conductor Kenneth Jean. Ms. Fialkowska ranks the piece as a major piano work, sure to excite the classical musical world.
The European debut of the piece is tomorrow in The Hague, Netherlands, where Stephen Mayer performs with the Resedentie Orkester at The Hague Museum.
The concerto, similar in form to the composer's other two, appears to date from 1839. "At that time, we think of [Liszt] as a virtuoso pianist who was stunning audiences around Europe," said Jay Rosenblatt, discoverer and editor of the work, in a phone interview. "This is a good opportunity for the general public to realize Liszt was always concerned with the serious side of composing."
The 15-minute work, written in one continuous movement, includes cadenza passages for the soloist at the beginning, "a lovely second theme, which is really quite beautiful," says Fialkowska, and a "marvelously virtuosic" ending, she adds.
When Rosenblatt went to Europe to research Liszt's works for piano and orchestra, he had no idea he would unearth a lost concerto. From archival materials, he was able to piece together a hitherto unknown composition, which had become dispersed over three countries. Some pages had been wrongly identified as drafts of Concerto No. 1 and shuffled into piles of unrelated manuscripts.
Liszt had scratched out a few passages of the solo part, "and there is no question he intended to come back and revise it," Rosenblatt says. But the original notes are still legible under the cross-hatch, making a performance of the work possible. "It's an example of where his development was at the time he wrote it."
Fialkowska says the premiere "gives me an amazing sense of power" because there is no precedent for how the concerto should be played. "There are no dynamics markings, no tempo indications - just the bare notes."
Subsequent performances are slated for Chicago (May 5 and 8); Santa Barbara, Calif., by the Festival Orchestra of the Music Academy of the West (Aug. 5); New York, by the New York Philharmonic (Jan. 3-5, 1991); and Youngstown, Ohio, by the Youngstown Symphony (Jan. 12, 1991).
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May 26, 1991|By Steven Brown, Orlando Sentinel Classical Music Critic
(...) This week, the main item of interest is a recently discovered, 15-minute piano concerto by Liszt, which Orlando audiences will finally have a chance to hear.
Jay Rosenblatt, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, unearthed the concerto in Europe about four years ago. Last spring, pianist Fialkowska and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the concerto its world premiere with Jean, who also serves as the Chicago Symphony's associate conductor, on the podium.
Rosenblatt was looking through manuscripts in an archive in Weimar, then part of East Germany, when he came across the first traces of the new concerto late in 1987. At the time, he was studying the well-known Piano Concerto No. 1.
''What I discovered among the material for the First Piano Concerto was this material for another work in the same key, which had been labeled by the archive as part of the First Concerto,'' Rosenblatt said. ''But upon closer examination, I was convinced that it was a completely separate one-movement work that happened to share the same key.
''But I didn't have the composer's own manuscript - what I had to work with was a copyist's manuscript. Liszt had probably given the concerto to an associate to make a clean copy of it, and this copy had a lot of mistakes. Liszt had not gone back to check it.''
During the next spring, Rosenblatt found Liszt's original. He was in Budapest, and once again he made his discovery amid papers related to the First Concerto. Three pages of the new concerto were missing - but thanks to the copyist's version he already had, Rosenblatt was able to fill in what was lost.
The music Orlando hears (now dubbed the Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major, Opus Posthumous) will be ''99 percent Liszt,'' Rosenblatt said. His main contribution lay in recognizing that the manuscripts he found belonged to an independent, previously lost piece. Otherwise, Rosenblatt explained, what editing the concerto needed mainly involved correcting some wrong notes and finishing some lines in the orchestral parts that obviously had been inadvertently broken off.
Liszt wrote the piece in the late 1830s, Rosenblatt said, when he was under 30 years old. But there's no evidence that he ever played it in public. If he had, Liszt probably would have thinned out the piano part - which is packed with notes, making it awkward and all the more demanding for the soloist. But even as it stands, Rosenblatt added, the concerto is unmistakably Lisztian - in its fireworks and in its free-flowing, one-movement form.
''There's no question that this is Liszt's music,'' Rosenblatt said. ''It bears all the fingerprints of the great master.''
This interview was recorded in her hotel in Chicago on May 22,
1989. Portions (along with recordings) were used on
WNIB the following year, and twice in 1991. The
transcription was posted on this
website in 2013.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.