Peter Serkin

Piano

Schubert Club Performances:

  • April 10, 1969
  • November 5, 1974
  • November 9, 1976
  • March 11, 1988
  • February 26, 1998
  • December 3, 2003

Son of Pianist Rudolf Serkin

He achieved notoriety in America in the 1970s (the Schubert Club first engaged him as early as 1969) as the young, rebellious, hippie-clad scion of a legendary musical dynasty: the son of pianist Rudolf Serkin – his first teacher – and grandson of violinist Adolf Busch. But before that, and far more significantly, Peter Serkin, born in New York in 1947 and a student of Mieczysław Horszowski as well as his father at the Curtis Institute, had already established himself as a prodigiously gifted pianist and musical thinker in his own right, regularly appearing from the age of twelve in solo recitals and concerts. At Rudolf Serkin’s Marlboro Festival in Vermont, he played chamber music with his father as well as other pianists including Horszowski and Richard Goode, as well as violinist Alexander Schneider and cellist Mischa Schneider. It was with them, starting in 1962, that he made his earliest recordings. But the 17-year-old Serkin’s brilliant first solo album was devoted to the Goldberg Variations, and it caused a sensation when it came out in 1965. He recorded it repeatedly during his career while his understanding of the work evolved. This live performance of Bach’s masterpiece is from 2017:

Of all composers, the one whom Serkin’s name is most closely linked with is Olivier Messiaen. In 1973, he recorded his already celebrated interpretation of Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. He had studied Messiaen’s monumental cycle with the composer, who warmly praised the pianist’s deeply spiritual interpretation. As there are no films of him playing Messiaen, here is a movement from Serkin’s “astonishing” (critic Michael Steinberg) RCA recording of Vingt Regards:

Serkin was also closely associated with the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. This is a performance of his evocative Rain Tree Sketch, filmed in Tokyo in 2003:

In July 2018, a year and a half before his untimely death from cancer, Peter Serkin gave this characteristically introspective performance of Schumann’s romantic Waldszenen (Forest Scenes):

Artist Note by Richard Evidon

From the Schubert Club Archive:

Poster from Serkin’s appearance with the Marlboro Festival Quintet in 1974

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Newspaper photo from Serkin’s 1974 Schubert Club appearance with the Marlboro Festival Quintet

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Poster from Serkin’s 1976 Schubert Club appearance with the string quartet TASHI

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Small advertisement for Serkin’s 1976 Schubert Club appearance with TASHI

Review of Serkin’s 1976 performance with TASHI

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Cover of TASHI’s 1976 program

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Serkin recording on the Schubert Club’s Graf fortepiano at St. Mary’s Chapel, St. Paul, 1983 (black & white)

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Serkin recording on the Schubert Club’s Graf fortepiano at St. Mary’s Chapel, St. Paul, 1983 (color)

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A profile piece of Serkin in the October 1983 edition of Minnesota Monthly, delving into his recording session on Schubert Club’s Graf fortepiano that same year [page 1]

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Profile piece of Serkin, Minnesota Monthly, October 1983 [page 2]

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Profile piece of Serkin, Minnesota Monthly, October 1983 [page 3]

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Article in the Pioneer Press about Serkin’s 1988 concert

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Program from Serkin’s 1988 concert

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Clipping in the Minneapolis Star Tribune promoting Serkin’s 1988 concert

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Serkin greeting Schubert Club President Helen Blomquist after his 1988 concert

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Review in the St. Paul Pioneer Press of Serkin’s 1988 performance

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Newspaper clipping promoting Serkin’s special concert 1990, “New Vistas in Contemporary Music,” showcasing 12 commissioned works

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Flyer for Serkin’s special 1990 concert

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Advertisement in the Twin Cities Reader for Serkin’s special 1990 concert

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Cover of the program from Serkin’s special 1990 concert

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Program for Serkin’s 1990 concert

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Review of Serkin’s 1990 concert in the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch

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Review in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune of Serkin’s 1990 concert

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Serkin featured on a flyer promoting the 1989-90 concert season

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Artist Archive