Slenczynska, Ruth , American pianist of precocious talent; b. Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 15, 1925. Her father, a violinist, subjected her to severe discipline when her musical talent was revealed in early childhood; she was only 4 when she began piano lessons with Alma Schmidt- Kennedy; played in public in Berlin at 6 years and with an orch. in Paris at 11. She made a sensation and was acclaimed by European critics as a prodigy of nature; she took lessons with Petri, Schnabel, Cortot, and others in Europe and America, and even played for Rachmaninoff, who became interested in her destiny. However, she developed psychological difficulties with her father, whose promotion of her career became obsessive, and had to cease public appearances; when she played concerts at the age of 15, the critics characterized her performances as mechanical reproductions of the music, seemingly without any personal projection. She then withdrew from public performances; after taking a degree in psychology at the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley (1954), she resumed her career; also taught at Southern I11. Univ. at Edwardsville (1964–90). She publ, a book of memoirs (with L. Biancolli), Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957), in which she recounted the troubles of a child prodigy’s life; she also brought out a pedagogical ed., Music at Your Fingertips. Aspects of Pianoforte Technique (with A. Lingg; N.Y., 1961).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire