Born: February 4, 1909 - Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 3, 1997 - Baltimore, Maryland, USA
The Hungarian-born America pianist, Agi Jambor, was the half-Jewish daughter of a wealthy businessman and a prominent piano teacher. A piano prodigy, she was playing W.A. Mozart before she could read and at age 12 made her debut with a symphony orchestra. learned piano with Paul Braun at the Fodor Music School in Budapest. Among her teachers was also Zoltán Kodály. From 1926 to 1931, she studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Edwin Fischer. In the early 1930’s, at the height of her popularity, she fled to Paris and into exile, preferring playing practice piano in a dance studio to performing on the concert stage. In 1933, she married Imre Patai, a physicist and pianist. In 1937 she won 5th Prize at the 3rd International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.
Agi Jambor began her stage career at an early age, performing in many European countries. Trapped with her husband when the Nazis overran Holland, and unable to escape to the USA, she later returned to Hungary, which was still neutral. She had a baby, a son who died within two weeks. A picture of the infant would remain on her bedside table the rest of her life. The Nazis invaded in 1944 and Jambor participated in the Resistance, often dressed as a prostitute in seductive clothes and heavy makeup, calling herself Maryushka. She refused to return or perform in Germany again.
In 1947 Agi Jambor and her husband immigrated to the USA, and she became Professor for piano of Music at Bryn Mawr College, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her husband died two years later, his health destroyed by the war. On February 14, 1951 the President and Mrs. Truman attended a concert at Constitution Hall of the National Symphony Orchestra with Jambor as soloist. After leaving Baltimore for Philadelphia in 1957, she began performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra, where she became a favorite soloist of Eugene Ormandy and was acclaimed by conductor Bruno Walter. She received rave reviews and made 12 recordings for Capitol Records. She also became professor of classical piano at Bryn Mawr College, which named her professor emeritus in 1974. She was married with Claude Rains (1889-1967; a British, and later American, theatre and film actor) for 9 months (November 1959 - August 1960).
Agi Jambor composed Piano Sonata to the Victims of Auschwitz.