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Special Notes from Tamás Ungár


Tamas Ungar

January 13, 2011


Welcome to my page! I am here to share some thoughts with you, especially with those who have been coming to PianoTexas faithfully year after year and for those who are planning to come in the future.


Reaching the 30 th anniversary is for me a significant milestone. For years I have been planning this celebration, distilling many possibilities.


Thirty years ago, in 1981, when the TCU/Cliburn Workshop first made its debut would I have imagined that it would reach the 30 th anniversary. But it did.


First of all, let me tell you how it all began. Once upon a time…


Many, many years ago, as a 17-year-old budding pianist, I first met the great Lili Kraus in Mittagong, Australia, during a chamber music weekend event. Madam Kraus performed the Schubert “Trout” Quintet which left an indelible impression on me. For the next 15 years we kept in touch intermittently. I attended her concerts and whenever possible I would ask to play for her. She was then the Artist-in-Resident of TCU. And then when a piano faculty post was open she invited me to audition, an opportunity that was instrumental in making it possible for me to move to Fort Worth, Texas.


For several years, Lili Kraus had already been running an annual summer workshop. And I particularly remember how much I was taken by her magnetic personality and impressed by her incredible insight into the music, particularly the music of Mozart and Schubert. Then in 1980, a year before the TCU/Cliburn Workshop, I organized a workshop in honor of Madam Kraus. I also invited Paul Pollei. Together, we gave master classes to a variety of young pianists. A year later, the TCU/Cliburn Piano Institute was materialized which eventually evolved into PianoTexas International Academy & Festival of today.


People often ask me what the initial impulses were that lead to the creation of this type of festival. Well, as with everything in life, it's serendipity and timing.


Fort Worth is the home of the Van Cliburn Foundation, an establishment that presents the superbly organized and most prestigious international piano competition. As a young faculty member, I quickly became acquainted with a group of dedicated people of this organization and was deeply impressed by the notion of volunteerism, a phenomenon foreign to my European/Australian upbringing.


I also realized that TCU, being the founding member of the Cliburn Competition and who opened its doors to international music community, was not successful in reaping educational reward for its support.


A combination of the Cliburn Competition jury members, artist/orchestral managers, influential music critics, and the great facilities of TCU made it quite apparent to me that everything was in place for a program geared for young pianists aspiring to be serious professional concert artists. It was an opportunity not to be missed. I saw the potential and jumped in.


Being young and fearless, I had a myopic understanding of what it took to organize such a program. My enthusiasm simply overrode my awareness of reality. I went straight ahead and approached Alberto Ginastera who was invited to be on the Cliburn jury, and who consented to be part of my workshop. With great triumphant, I walked into our Fina Arts Dean's office and announced my proposal. It was then when reality hit. Dean Tade then calmly informed me that whatever expenses incurred from my project would have to be covered by me, personally. Well, it was the first and the best lesson I learned in running an organization.


Nevertheless, there was no turning back. And so the first TCU/Cliburn Workshop was launched. With the absence of Ginastera due of ill health, the workshop was endowed with Jorge Bolet, Leon Fleisher, Lili Kraus, and Vlado Perlemuter as teaching faculty. And what a wonderful start of this great journey!


In my next “blog” I would like to write about our special celebration of Beethoven this year, why this composer is so special to me, as no doubt to many people, and how I compare Beethoven's lifelong development to the growth of PianoTexas.


Stay tuned. And welcome again to PianoTexas!



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Hailed as one of the top summer piano festivals in the world, PianoTexas has been enriching the lives of Fort Worth residents and visitors for over 30 years.


Special Notes from Tamás Ungár


Past Festivals

Visiting TCU

Contact PianoTexas

PianoTexas International Academy & Festival

TCU Box 297456

Fort Worth, Texas 76129

Tel: 817.257.7456

Fax: 817.257.0178

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