Renowned SIUE Artist-In-Residence Returns for Concert

Former SIUE Artist-In-Residence and World Renown Pianist, Ruth Slenczynska, 92, is returning in January for a 2-day event in on campus.

Slenczynska turns 93 next month and shows no signs of slowing down. Slenczynska has been performing for over 80 years, received critical appraise at a young age becoming recognized on renowned stages.  Her father, Joseph Slenczynski, a violinist, imposed a rigorous and disciplinary practice routine on her beginning at age three. She began her piano studies in Europe at age four and took lessons with Arthur Schanabel, Egon Petri, Alfred Cortot, Joseph Hofmann, and even performed for Sergei Rachmaninoff. She performed her debut in Berlin at age six, and made her debut in Paris with a full orchestra at age eleven. She became an instant musical sensation in Europe, heralded as the first child prodigy since Mozart. However, the strain of practice and the touring schedule imposed upon her by her father caused great emotional stress upon her, and by the age of fifteen, she withdrew from performing.

She published a book of memoirs, Forbidden Childhood (NY, 1957), which deals with life as a child prodigy, and a book on piano technique, Music at Your Fingertips: Aspects of Pianoforte Technique (NY, 1961).

In 1964, she accepted a full time position at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville as Artist-in-Residence, a title she retained until 1987. Ms. Slenczynska married in 1967 to Dr. James Kerr, a professor of political science at SIUE.

Slenczynska, native of Sacramento, Calif., said she enjoys making people happy.

“Learning and new knowledge throughout all your life — that’s what keeps you happy,” she said. “As you use the knowledge, you can use the knowledge in different ways like giving and giving [which] is what makes you happy. The more you give the happier you will be.”

Slenczynska said what she what she tries to do the on piano is impact her audiences by expressing various human emotions. “All of the feelings of sadness, happiness and feelings of dance…,” Slenczynska said. “After people come for two hours to listen, and the music carries them I give this music in the form of expressing.”

Ms. Slenczynska returns to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for a performance on January 9th in Katherine Dunham Hall at 7:30p.m. The following day she will holding a master class the following day at 3pm in the same theater. The events are free and welcome to the public, but seating is limited.

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