Géza Zichy

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Géza Zichy

Géza Zichy (July 23, 1849 – January 14, 1924)[1] was a Hungarian composer and was also renowned as the world's first professional one-armed pianist.[2] Zichy also published an autobiography ("Aus meinem Leben", 3 vols, 1911–24) and some poetry.[3]


Zichy was born im Sztára Castle in 1849. He came from a noble family and held the title Count Vasony-Keö.[4] Zichy lost his right arm in a hunting accident at age 14 or 15. Still determined to become a pianist, he persevered by writing and performing piano music for the left hand. In 1873 he began six years of study with Franz Liszt. He also studied under Robert Volkmann.[3]

In spite of his limitations, Zichy had a successful career as both a concert pianist and a composer for the next 40 years. He gave entire concerts playing music only for the left hand, the proceeds of which he gave to charity as he was independently wealthy.[2] He was known for his artistic sensitivity as well as dextrous playing and had several admirers; including Franz Liszt who wrote glowing reviews of his performances in letters to friends. The Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, who pulled no punches, said Zichy's playing was "the greatest marvel of modern times on the piano".[2]

From 1891 to 1894 he was Intendant of the Royal Hungarian Opera. His appointment spelt the end of Gustav Mahler's term as music director.[3]


Among Zichy's many compositions was a left-hand piano concerto and several operas. In addition to his music career, Zichy also worked as a lawyer. He died in Budapest in 1924, aged 74.[5] An entire chapter is devoted to Zichy in Piano Music for One Hand by Theodore Edel (Indiana University Press), a comprehensive survey of music written for those pianists who have the use of only one hand.

  • A vár története (1888)
  • Alár (1896)
  • Roland mester (1899)
  • Nemo (1905)
  • Rákóczi Ferenz (1909)
  • Radostó (1912)
  • Gemma, ballet
  • Dolores, cantata (1889)
  • songs
Piano left-hand
  • Six Studies (1878; preface by Liszt)
  • Sonata
  • Concerto in E flat (1902)


  1. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zichy, Geza, Count Vasony-Keo". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians. (6th ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. p. 1945. ISBN 0-02-870240-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Pianists, p. 252
  3. ^ a b c Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954, Vol. IX, p.414
  4. ^ Opera Glass
  5. ^ Dolmetsch Online


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