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György Cziffra

György Cziffra, the French pianist of Hungarian birth, was born in Budapest on 5 November 1921 and died in Senlis, France, on 17 January 1994. A pupil of Dohnányi, he led a colourful life, as a child making his public début in the circus ring, later becoming a prisoner-of-war, playing cabaret piano in Budapest bars, being imprisoned for his political beliefs (1950-53), and fleeing Hungary during the doomed Uprising of October 1956. The quintessential Tzigane pianist, renowned as much for his quiet, unflustered keyboard manner as his grand Romantic style, cyclonic technique and fabled skills as an improviser and transcriber, he was especially famous in Liszt, Chopin and Schumann. An English translation of his memoirs, Cannons and Flowers - where he likened himself to 'an animal at bay ... a disconcerting mixtures of contradictions' - appeared in 1997. AO

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