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January, 14

96 year-old pianist Ruth Slenczynska signs global record deal with Decca Classics

96 year-old pianist Ruth Slenczynska signs global record deal with Decca Classics

She was a piano child prodigy who began her concert career in the silent-movie era.

Now Ruth Slenczynska is hoping to top the charts in her nineties after signing a new global recording deal with Decca Classics.

Born in 1925, Ms Slenczynska made her concert debut aged four, and has enjoyed a performing career spanning eleven decades.

The last living pupil of the great Russian composer-pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, she was invited to perform for five US presidents including Harry Truman, with whom she played a duet.

She recorded albums for the Decca label in the 50s and 60s.

Sixty years later, Ms Slenczynska, who celebrates her 97th birthday on Saturday (15 January), is returning with a new solo piano album, My Life In Music, which will be released this March.

Decca previously helped Dame Vera Lynn become the oldest living artist to score a top 10 album, with a new release marking the wartime favourite’s 100th birthday.

Ms Slenczynska said her return to the recording studio was “unbelievable! Whoever heard of a pianist my age making another album?”

The pianist added: “I’m grateful if they like the music. Music is meant to bring joy. If mine still brings joy to people, then it is doing what it is supposed to do.”

Born in California to Polish parents, Ms Slenczynska made her childhood concert debut under the instruction of a “tyrannical” father.

She was called a “prodigious Romantic-age keyboard lioness” as her career progressed and was famed for her Chopin interpretations, which Ms Slenczynska recreates on the new album.

Still an active performer, she appeared at a Chopin International Festival held at the Polish Embassy in New York last October and is also set to celebrate her 97th birthday with a US recital in February.

Laura Monks and Tom Lewis, co-presidents of Decca Label Group, said: “It’s remarkable to think that Ruth made her concert debut before the birth of colour movies, and around the same time as the birth of television.”

“The fact that she is still at the top of her game over nine decades later is extraordinary.”

“It’s very hard to think of anyone, in any profession, who has achieved such a sustained period of excellence.”

Decca said the musician’s pianism is “one of the last living links” to a “golden era” of classical performance.

Photo: provided by The i
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