10 Treurenberg, 1000 Brussels
„Tamás Érdi touches piano keys with much more sensitivity than those who can see. I believe that in his play, there is such sensitivity which is naturally not possible to reach for us. I dare say that this ability could be measured by Chopin’s standards.” - Zoltán Kocsis – Parlando (2010)
Liszt: Consolation in D flat major
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6
Liszt: Fountains of the Villa d'Este
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Kodály: Dances of the Marosszék
Gundel, Junior Prima and Prima Primissima Prize winning concert pianist, Tamás Érdi was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit in 2004 and Hungary’s highest musical distinction, the Liszt Prize in 2019. He started his piano studies under the instruction of Erika Becht, who has been his teacher and ‘musical score’ (she has invented a unique method allowing him to learn, practice, rehearse and play without a printed score) ever since. At 17, he won the Louis Braille Piano Competition in Moscow and after two years of studies at the Vienna Music Academy, was accepted to the Toronto Music Conservatory where he received his artist’s diploma as a pupil of Leon Fleisher. An undergraduate still in his teens, he released two Mozart CDs simultaneously in Budapest and Toronto. A huge and instant success at the time, they have had five editions since. American Record Guide, the oldest classical music review magazine in the US appreciated the exceptional emotional depth and power of expression of his Mozart performance, comparing it to that of Rudolf Serkin, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Mitsuko Ushida, Evgeny Kissin and Clara Haskil. His concerts took him to 28 countries where he played in prestigious venues including the Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln and Barbican Centre. In Hungary, Érdi’s Liszt, Chopin and Schubert recordings appeared on the Hungaroton label and he has played successful concerts under the baton of his chief mentors, Zoltán Kocsis and Tamás Vásáry. In 2010, Kocsis said that “Tamás touches the piano keys with much greater sensitivity than a musician with eyesight. I don’t think we could ever reach the degree of sensitivity that is apparent in his performance. I dare say that this ability could be measured by standards set by Chopin.” 2019 brought Tamás his sixth invitation to Warsaw, to play under the famous Chopin statue for an audience of over four thousand people. Musicologist Antoni Grudzinsky, the president of the Warsaw Chopin Association voiced the belief that “with his performance Tamás Érdi has earned for himself a place in the front line of the world’s best piano performers for a long time to come. Érdi was equally applauded when he played with the Toronto or the Iceland Symphony, the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, the Sverdlovsk or the Enescu Symphony, the latter at the final event of the Liszt Year in Rumania. In Hungary, he is a regular soloist of the National Philharmonics and the Hungarian Radio Symphony. Tamás Érdi is also the art director of an open air classical music festival now in its eighth year in the Balaton region. With an eye on 2023 when the town of Veszprém and the Balaton Region will be the Cultural Capital of Europe, the Festival, formally accepted as one of its important events, is expanding its scope to invite outstanding artists also from other countries. The new international character is fully in line with the basic endeavor its art director, Tamás Érdi to build bridges and use music to give solace and understanding to people in a region much in need of peace and harmony.
The concert is combined with the book presentation of My Shining Darkness - The Story of Concert Pianist Tamás Érdi by Márta É. Szabó
Preview by Judit Petrányi
This is one of those life stories that could be taken for a fairy-tale. Or the proverbial folk tale where the smallest son of the poor man wins the hand of the beautiful princess in the end. Here you have a seventy-gram (!) baby born ahead of time who loses his eye-sight in an ill-adjusted incubator growing up to become one of the best and most popular concert pianists in his country. His awards include the most prestigious tokens of appreciation a musician can receive, including the Hungarian Order of Merit and the Liszt Prize. His concerts have drawn standing ovation in dozens of countries, at venues including the Carnegie Hall in New York and Lazienki Park where he is invited to play Chopin to thousands under the composer’s statue every year. But just as important, at the age of 40 when this book is published, he is a happy man whose world may be presumed to be dark by others but is in fact as bright as can be.
How was that possible? Well, thanks to a lot of good luck, starting with the three-year-old child discovering the piano of his grandparents, a mother acting on the realization that her child may be playing with his favorite toy exceptionally skilfully and a teacher who invented for him a unique method to help him learn, practice and perform without a printed score. When he was not admitted to the Liszt Academy in Budapest (how could a blind boy hope to become a concert pianist?), his parents took him to Vienna, then to Toronto where the famous Leon Fleisher accepted him as his pupil.
Were those years difficult? Yes, they were. Were there obstacles? Yes, there were galore.
But it would not be a fairy-tale if help was not just around the corner. A Japanese eye surgeon was ready to try the impossible and from Boston to Florida, numerous Hungarian ex-pats, most of them strangers, offered their home, loving care and friendship to the persevering family.
The book is an account of all that – and much more. It is also a journey on the train of parental love. Those two people struck by fear and dispair when Tamás was born were two nationally known, popular and ambitious TV personalities. Sándor Érdi had launched Studio, to this day the mmiérost memorable weekly prime time cultural magazine show and Márta É. Szabó, the producer and presenter of equally unforgettable programs for children on Hungarian Television. Both gave up their profession to put Tamás’ life and career on track. True, Márta and Sándor were pushed in that direction when in the politically turbulent 1990-ies, their programs were cancelled and in a mass lay-off, they found themselves dismissed. Some consolation: travelling with Tamás could be combined with taping a series of interviews with some great Hungarian emigrés well-known in the world but little known in socialist Hungary. Fortunately, the book also offers a glimpse into the lives of these outstanding cultural personalities.
One of the last pages advertises the Balaton Summer Festival, an event now in its seventh year that has been attracting thousands of music lovers to dozens of venues in the Balaton region every year. Its art director is Tamás Érdi.
And the final picture in the book shows Tamás on he side of Réka who has been holding his hand and has been with him every step of the way ever since their wedding in 2013. So, you see, the smallest son has won the hand of the princess. Those dark glasses do hide a shining world. I told you it was a fairy-tale.