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Child Piano Star Solomon Cutner, 85

February 25, 1988|From Times Wire Services

Solomon Cutner, hailed at age 8 as one of the century's most distinguished pianists but who was forced to cut short his career because of a stroke, has died at age 85, his family said this week.

Solomon, known professionally by his first name only, died Feb. 2, the Associated Press reported from London on Wednesday.

He was one of seven children in a family in London's rough East End. At age 7 he began studying music with Mathilde Verne, a pupil of Clara Schumann.

Solomon made his concert hall debut when he was 8, playing Mozart's B-flat Concerto and the slow movement of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto at the Queen's Hall in London.

He appeared again at Queen's Hall, under conductor Sir Henry Wood, playing Beethoven's Third Concerto and Liszt's "Hungarian Fantasy," and in 1911 undertook his first British tour. That same year he played to the royal family at Buckingham Palace, and his career as a child prodigy was established.

But he wearied of performing and retired early. Sir Henry wrote in his autobiography that the young Solomon told him he had "no boy's interests, no games," because of his career.

"As he said, it had been piano, piano, and nothing but piano," wrote Wood.

But Solomon resumed his concert hall career in 1921 and made his American debut in 1926. In 1939 he was a soloist at the New York World's Fair and spent much of World War II touring military bases. Known for the clarity of his tone and the poetry of his playing, he reigned as one of the world's most sought-after pianists until suffering a paraplegic stroke in 1965.

The Times of London wrote: "He developed his technical virtuosity to the highest pitch, but his outstanding quality was the intellectual insight and poetry of feeling which he brought to the keyboard repertory, from Mozart to Debussy."

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