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Sofia Cosma (Piano)

Born: 1914 - Smorgon, Belarus
Died: February 12, 2011 - Oxnard, California, USA

The Belarus-born pianist, Sofia Cosma, began studying piano at the age of 5. It was clear that she was a prodigy and by 14 she was playing the Camille Saint-Saëns 2nd Piano Concerto. At 19 she was invited to study with famous piano teacher Julius Isserlis, grandfather of world renown cellist, Steven Isserlis. to this day both Sofia and the Isserlis' remain close friends. In 1933 she entered the International Piano Competition in Vienna. The jury, however, could not agree on who should take 1st. Alfred Cortot wanted Dinu Lipatti, Emil von Sauer wanted Sofia. In the end a polish pianist won, Dinu 2nd, no 3rd, and she was given 4th. Shortly after this she returned to Riga upon her father's request where she was arrested for having a foreign passport and taken along with many others, to a prison camp for foreigners in Kazakhstan and was stuck there for 9 years. They told her it would be 3 weeks. While at the camp she met Valya, a dashing young man and had her daughter, Ilona. Because Valya was Romanian, though he never lived there or spoke the language, Sofia was shipped back to Austria and then rejoined her husband in Romania. She remained in Romania and sought out Florica Musichescu, the teacher of Dinu Lipatti, and while under her guidance regained her strength and technique as a pianist and resumed her career as solo and primary pianist for Romania. She became a permanent soloist with the Romanian Philharmonic.

Sofia Cosma defected to the USA in 1981 and settled in Southern California, where she performed and taught. She lived with her daughter, Ilona Scott, in Camarillo, where she developed a devoted group of students and was featured pianist in guest appearances with the Ventura County Symphony. She died of natural causes on February 12, 2011 at a nursing home in Oxnard; she was 96.

Source: Obituary in LA Times Website (February 22, 2011); Sofia Cosma page on Facebook
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (June 2011)

Sofia Cosma: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Sofia Cosma dies at 96; concert pianist and prison camp survivor (LA Times)
Pianist Sofia Cosma remembered as amazing, determined (Ventura County Star)

Sofia Cosma on Facebook
Sofia Cosma Documentary ( Blog)

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