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Fou Ts'ong (Piano)

Born: March 10, 1934 - Shanghai, China

The Chinese pianist, Fou Ts'ong, was born in Shanghai and grew up in an intellectual atmosphere rooted in the cultural tradition of old China.(his father was the translator Fu Lei). He studied in his youth piano in Shanghai with renowned Italian pianist and conductor Mario Paci (founder of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra). Fou made his debut there is 1951 in Shanghai, playing L.v. Beethovens Piano Concerto No. 5 with the Shanghai Municipal Council Symphony Orchestra. In 1953 Fou won 3rd prize at the Bucharest Piano Competition. That was immediately followed with the "Art mission" to Poland, East Germany and the Soviet Union and vistis to other countries. That same year he began studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, where his most important teacher was Zbigniew Drzewicki. He amazed his professors with his intuitive grasp of the mazurka rhythm. His mastery was confirmed when he captured 3rd prize at the 5th Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1955, being the first Chinese pianist to be a prize-winner at the this prestigious competition (1st prize went to the Polish pianist Adam Harasiewicz asnd to 2nd to Vladimir Ashkenazy). He was also awarded the Polish Radio Prize there for best performance of the Frédéric Chopin mazurkas. He graduated from Warsaw Conservatory with the highest distinction. Although residing for only four years in Poland, he gave over two hundred concerts and recitals across Eastern Europe during this time.

After Poland, Fou Ts'ong returned to Beijing in 1958, and in December 1958 moven again to Europe, settling permanently in London, and build a successful career on the concert stage, in the recording studio and as a teacher. He soon became one of the most popular pianists in the UK, and the most active musician in the international arena. From London he would set off on long artistic tours lasting several months. Each year he travelled the length and breadth of Europe, Scandinavia, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand, both Americas and Japan. Dubbed by Time magazine 'The greatest Chinese musician alive today', Tsong is one of the most highly respected interpreters of the music of F. Chopin. Hermann Hesse proclaimed him to be the only true performer of the composer's work. On winning the 1965 Chopin Competition, together with the Prize for mazurkas, Martha Argerich was asked where she learned to play these difficult and highly specific works so splendidly. She replied: 'from the recordings made by the Chinese pianist Fou Ts'ong!'. Other pianistic icons, like Leon Fleisher and Radu Lupu, have spoken of his extraordinary skills. Ts'ong has generally been conservative in his choice of repertoire: besides F. Chopin, he has played much W.A. Mozart, including sonatas, other solo works and concertos, and J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, George Frideric Handel, Haydn, L.v. Beethoven, Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Debussy.

In 1976, Fou Ts'ong came back to China and held his solo concert at China Central Conservatory. And after that he came back to his motherland to perform and teach every year. Until now he has already been to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu and Kunming. He gives lectures on F. Chopin, W.A. Mozart, Debusy and some other musicians, and also performed the works of these musician and some other masterworks from Schubert and so on. He cooperated with Central philharmonic to play the concertos of L.v. Beethoven and with the philharmonic of the students in China Central Conservatory he played the works from W.A. Mozart. And it is interesting that he was also the conductor of the concert. And he has specially tutored the training of the indoor music group of Affiliated Middle School of China Central Music Conservatory. Music fans, teachers and students respect him because of his rich experience and earnest attitudes.

Fou Ts'ong has made numerous recordings, most available on Sony, Decca, and Meridian Records. In the early 1960s he recorded 18 F. Chopin mazurkas for the Westminster label and drew broad international acclaim. In 1994 a fascination with the artistry of Fou Ts'ong led to the private issue by Martha Argerich, Leon Fleisher and Radu Lupu of the CD 'The Pianistic Art of Fou Ts'ong'. The message attached to this disc includes the following words: 'Fou Ts'ong is our dear friend. For us insiders, he is one of the greatest pianists of our times. His outstanding interpretations should become signposts for musicians of the young generation'. Tsong would go on to make many further recordings, including a complete set of the mazurkas, in 1984 (now available on Sony). His later recordings include an acclaimed 2009 Meridian Records CD of F. Chopin mazurkas.

Fou Ts'ong continued with a heavy schedule of concerts right into the 1990s. He returned to China on a concert tour in 1989 and again in 1998. There he gave many highly praised performances in Beijing and Shanghai and also conducted master-classes. 2004 marked his 70th birthday. As a veteran of the keyboard,his enthusiasm and dedication to music remains undimmed. This year he has returned to his native Shanghai to give his expertise to students at the conservatory on F. Chopin, W.A. Mozart's Concertis, and Debussy in a series of master-classes over a period of two months. He continues to give classes at the International Foundation for young pianists at Como, Italy. He has performed in London, Taiwan, HongKong and Beppu Festival in Japan. Meridian Records have released his recordings of F. Chopin and W.A. Mozart concerti as well as other solo piano recordings. Amidst the great number of growing whizz kids springing up from China, Ts'ong remains in spiritual terms true to his art and cultural root. His strength of conviction and personal voice in his music making are individual and unconventional. In the new century Fou has remained active as a performer, with numerous tours, including concerts in Shanghai in spring 2006.

Fou Ts'ong has also been active as a member of competition juries, serving on the Queen Elizabeth Music Competition jury three times: 1991, 1999 and 2007.

From 1960 to 1969, Fou Tsong was married to Zamira Menuhin, the daughter of Yehudi Menuhin, and they had one son. Their marriage ended in divorce. He later married the Chinese pianist Patsy Toh. He lives in London. Fou's parents Fu Lei and Zhu Meifu were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and committed suicide in September 1966. Fou Ts'ong has a brother named Fu Min.

Source: Svensk Konsertdirektion AB Website (May 2004); Fryderyk Chopin Institute Website; All music Guide (Author: Robert Cummings)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2014)

Fou Ts'ong: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Svensk Konsertdirektion AB - Fou Tsong, Piano
Fou Ts'ong (Fryderyk Chopin Institute)
Fou Ts'ong Piano Recital - Beijing NCPA Concert 2013(Theatre Beijing)

Fou Ts'ong | Biography (AMG)
Fou Tsong (Wikipedia)

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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