An Amazing Pianist Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska and Her Devoted Challenge at the Age of Seventy-nine in Summer 2004 – The Record of an Utopia I


This is the second CD, which are from the live recordings of Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska’s performance July 2004 in Japan. Less than half a year has passed since her first CD was released. No one imagined this kind of sequence of events. Perhaps Mrs. Slenczynksa by herself, and I also little dreamed of the development of such a thing.

The following is what has turned out in reality. Mrs. Slenczynska stayed in Okayama for ten days in November 2003 for the sake of her second performance. One afternoon I accompanied her to the Okayama Symphony Hall where she was to perform the Concerto. On that occasion I escorted her to the CD shop in the first floor of the hall.

The person in charge at the CD shop has been an ardent fan of Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska since her first visit to Japan in April 2003. Her three CDs, which can be imported from the United States of America at present, were displayed distinctly at the corner of pianists. I wanted to show it to her, for the owner of the shop did such a favor for the sake of confirmed fans. Of course she raised a joyous shout. Just on the next shelves there are collected works of Schnabel, Backhaus and Rachmaninov, each ten plus some CDs! A bigger shout of admiration burst simultaneously from her, “My teachers!” – In fact she has studied with all of these master pianists since she was around seven years old!


The same amount of collected works of her CD would be displayed if her previous records could be revived. I told her, who was looking at those CDs longingly and dearly, “Mrs. Slenczynska, let’s do our very best to display your CDs here at least more than ten pieces!” At that time, however, there was neither perspective nor confidence of me, being honest with you. I am afraid that she had not any, either.

40代で結婚。夫君のJames Kerr教授(政治学)は、やさしく、ハンサムでスポーツマンだった。

Only one year has passed since then. Now there are displayed six of her CDs, which are from live recordings in Japan, in addition to her imported three – altogether nine CDs of Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska in the corner!

Of course, it is quite challenging for a non-professional to start an independent record label to produce CDs of a certain performer. What is more, if the performer were meant as a legendary pianist, it is only natural that the response was not encouraging.

The encounter with Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska, her performance in Japan twice in 2003, and publishing her CDs – all of these episodes are written to a certain extent in the commentary of The Art of Ruth Slenczynska I. What confirms me now is that a lucky opportunity came up to me.

At the very beginning I considered it had better not to leave any private trace of the producer, for the CDs will be published worldwide level, even though the founder is an individual. Common understanding of the art of music and our spirit of determination has initiated reciprocal give and receive relationship between the pianist Mrs. Slencynska and a dentist.

“As my husband passed away I was seventy-five years old. I stopped playing on the piano for three years since then. When I resumed it at the age of seventy-seven once again, the sound resonated totally different. Now is the best time for me as a pianist. Therefore, I would like to bequeath it as a legacy to our descendants!” Especially these words of her let me make up my mind to record her performance as much as possible.


As a matter of fact I again kept trying to arrange her visit to Japan just after she returned home in New York November 2003. The long journey from New York, USA, to Okayama, Japan – the seventy-nine-year-old lady might rather shrink at the thought of various obstacles. The plan of her third visit to Japan had no progress for a long time.

In the meantime our family members had a very good time with full Daigo cherry tree blossoms in April 2004 in Ochiai-cho, Okayama Prefecture. The tree is more than a thousand years old. On top of the mountain the tree stands out alone into the blue sky. Having been in total silence, overwhelmed by the aura emanating from the trunk and blossoms of the big cherry tree, we cherished the beauty for five hours until the light was lit up in the evening. “Now it seems to me this Daigo cherry tree is identified with Mrs. Slenczynska. Every petal is like the note she plays on the piano!” My wife aroused the admiration.

Along with her personality, we have listened to her music since 2003. Therefore, it is quite natural for us to overlap the weather-beaten Daigo cherry tree, which still puts forth their blossoms, and Mrs. Slenczynska herself. Then we wrote it to her, and her letter reached us soon. “I would like to come to Okayama for performance in the middle of July,” was her answer.


Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska’s third visit to Japan has realized in this way. And after two weeks two programs, which contained very hard pieces, were sent to us. Her own explanation in the letter was as follows: Program A is centering on Carnaval by Schumann, which I performed at some recitals after I came back to the United States last year (2003). And there are surprising pieces, too. Copland’s work is a rarity. I have met him in person before. It is particularly appropriate for this summer. Program B was set up after I received your letter. You performed Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata and El Cant dels Ocells (Songs of a Bird) by Pablo Casals at the farewell party in Okayama 2003. It reminds me the time when I was ten years old. At the home of master Cortot I had lessons. There I sometimes turned the page of the notes when the Casals Trio practiced. (Thibaud played the violin.) Casals often mentioned, “Mozart should be performed in the way of Chopin, and Chopin in that of Mozart.” Those words flashed across my mind’s eye. So the program has works by Chopin and Mozart alone. I hope you will like it ……

To tell you the truth, I could not spend much time thinking about the intention of her program. If the recordings were done in our small Liu Mifune Art Ensemble hall on very hot days in summer, we have to stop air conditioning so that its noise could be shut off. Mrs. Slenczynska would perform her two tough programs in our hall just like being in a sauna bath. What is more, piano tuner Mr. Hironaka, recording engineers Mr. Yoshioka & Mr. Ohtani – I can easily imagine how they would scramble under the burning sun! (Our recording studio is located in one room of my home next to the hall. They have to go up and down the three-floor stairs from the top of the hall to reach the place of her performance!) I found myself in a cold sweat.


Is it really possible for a seventy-nine-year-old lady to create the very best performance of her art in the possibly worst circumstances? The nearer summer comes, the more things I had to worry about.

At last the day, July 9th, has come for Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska to arrive at Narita airport from New York.

We were eagerly waiting for her arrival at any instant at the exit of the customs. Some pile of big baggage by itself came to us, and in the next moment we saw Mrs. Slenczynska, who was shorter than the luggage, pushing the cart behind it. My heart was filled with an undertone of apology. Due to my being unable to meet and welcome her in the United States, instead seventy-nine-year-old master packed up at her home (in the 27th floor of the building) in New York. She went to the airport by herself with her big baggage. After a very long time of flight has she arrived in Japan.

At the same moment Mrs. Slenczynska saw us. Stopping on the way to us, she took out a bottle of wine from her baggage. Showing it to me, she said, “It is the champagne for you from New York! I wanted to pass it to you first at the moment of our meeting again.” She raised her voice, through which the fatigue of the thirty-hour journey could not be aware of.

From the next day of her arrival in Tokyo Mrs. Slenczynska’s schedule was more intense than last year (2003). Home concert & lecture at the house of the pianist Mrs. Shuku Iwasaki, who has known each other since last year. On the following day there were held mini-concert & autograph-signing session in two CD shops. (It might be the first and the last chance for music fans in Tokyo to attend her live performance.) Interviews from some magazines were also over in the meantime.


Therefore, the amazing energy of Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska could be compared favorably with last year. Even though she arrived in Tokyo in the evening, she started her practicing on the piano at nine o’clock in the next morning. Having prepared for such a case, an old piano at the parents’ house of my wife in Tokyo has been already tuned. As she finished four-hour practicing in the morning, I humbly apologized to her for the piano. Then she answered with a smile, “Today it was not the Bo¨sendorfer or Steinway that I am used to play on. That is the very reason why I could get two new ideas on the Piano Sonata of Mozart I have not had for a long time. It is very lucky of me!” “I always try my best to listen to the sound resonating from the piano very carefully. A pianist should be able to change her expression along with listening to what the piano wants to tell very carefully. It is not so recommended only to play on the accustomed instrument. You can find nothing new in the art if you do not try to expand your scope,” said she additionally.


In retrospect Mrs. Slenczynska did practicing totally for ten hours on five pianos and a series of mini-concert. Holding her hand, we walked in the middle of a crowd at Ginza to the station in that evening. At one moment I had a thought of escorting a revived Tyrannosaurus which had been extinct. Marvelous aspects of Mrs. Ruth Slenczynska’s personality have revealed.

translator Kiyoko Kruzliak

The Art of Ruth Slenczynska II

July 17th and 19th, 2004 Liu Mifune Art Ensemble
Steinway made in 1926 in Liu Mifune Art Ensemble
Ruth Slenczynska (Piano)


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