Lost Genius: The Curious and Tragic Story of an Extraordinary Musical Prodigy

By Kevin Bazzana

Born in Budapest in 1903, Ervin Nyiregyházi (nyeer-edge-hah-zee) was once composing at , giving his first public recital at six, and acting far and wide Europe via 8. He was once quickly famous as the most outstanding baby prodigies in heritage and have become the topic of a four-year learn by way of a psychologist. through twenty-five, he had all yet disappeared. Mismanaged, exploited, and insistent on an intensely Romantic type, his profession foundered in maturity and he used to be lowered to penury. In 1928, he settled in la, the place he played sporadically and labored in Hollywood. Psychologically, he remained a baby, and located the standard calls for of lifestyle laborious — he struggled even to decorate himself. He drank seriously, was once insatiable sexually (he married ten times), and lived in abject poverty, but such was once his expertise and air of secrecy that he numbered between his buddies and champions Rudolph Valentino, Harry Houdini, Theodore Dreiser, Bela Lugosi, and Gloria Swanson. Rediscovered within the Nineteen Seventies, he loved a sensational and arguable renaissance. Kevin Bazzana explores the bright yet afflicted brain of a geniune Romantic adrift within the glossy age. the tale he tells is among the so much interesting - and weird - within the heritage of music.

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Intercourse isn't really vulgar! ” he insisted. “When I screw, it's elegant! ” His love letters have been ardent and flowery,41 and he insisted that “a woman’s physique is holy to me,” although his and others’ reminiscences recommend that, for all his adoration, he used to be extra egocentric than attentive as a lover. His angle towards intercourse was once a recipe for a lifetime’s clutter and torment, and his juggling of relationships was once advanced by way of all kinds of predictable difficulties, from venereal illness to blackmail. He his sexual whims and appetites it seems that unaware of the results, and he enraged many males by means of the impact he had on their other halves and girlfriends.

Ervin used to be embarrassed by way of what he thought of his family’s coarse, boorish manners and their loud, petty squabbling (often approximately money). At domestic, he acknowledged, the nutrition was once undeniable, and the kin “shoved” nutrients round at desk, dipping into universal bowls. Butter used to be rationed like a pricey luxurious. while he was once approximately 8, Grandma Lenke indulged him through procuring him a butter knife, prompting a demanding trade - IGNÁCZ: Are you a millionaire? ERVIN: No, yet i would like to stay like one. IGNÁCZ: That [butter knife]’s reserved for site visitors.

His delight, too, used to be a hurdle. “I needed to attempt to locate different managers, and that i was once requested to make auditions,” he recalled. “I, who had performed with Nikisch and Monteux, to audition for foolish girls! i wouldn't do it. ” He was once hopelessly incompetent as his personal supervisor, and his upbringing had outfitted him poorly for the idea of grownup duties, yet he labored the place he may. a pal at Knabe prepared with a San Francisco piano broker for Nyiregyházi to spend October partaking in Ampico demonstration live shows in a variety of Bay region towns.

What's he reliable for? not anything, other than to play the piano,” acknowledged the mentor, with extensive drollery. Nyredghazi whereas in the USA is in his cost. he's an American, von Laurenz via identify, and himself a pianist, yet a able fellow who may perhaps lead a march in the course of the desolate tract. “When I met him on the boat,” he comparable, “I observed that I had a role on my fingers. That evening at dinner he had a beef chop on his plate. He took the knife and checked out it, and checked out the chop. He started jabbing at it gingerly, as if he have been afraid it'll bounce out of the plate and chew him.

He endured to have sexual encounters outdoors of the wedding, and as constantly his emotions for previous flames advanced his lifestyles. He had gay encounters, too. within the Nineteen Forties, he befriended the pianist Shura Cherkassky, who used to be homosexual, and recalled a night on which the 2 went to a sexually charged celebration (“orgy,” in a single model of the tale) on the domestic of a Danish baroness within the Hollywood Hills. At one aspect, a girl sat in Nyiregyházi’s lap, kissed him, and declared her love; he kissed her again, declared his love, then learned that his accomplice used to be a guy - one of the transvestites on the social gathering.

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