Pianist Ruth Slenczynska Receives Honorary Doctorate from Curtis Institute of Music

The 97-year-old musician received the degree from the same institution she attended earlier in life  

(Photo credit: Meredith Truax)


Regarded as “the greatest piano genius since Mozart,” American pianist Ruth Slenczynska was honored for her celebrated career at The Curtis Institute of Music.

Slenczynska attended the school and took piano technique lessons with Isabelle Venegerova. It has been reported that she was one of the youngest students at Curtis at age 5. A child prodigy in the 1920s, Slenczynska continues nine decades later as an active performer.

Most recently, Slencyznska performed at the 2021 Chopin International Festival in the Polish Embassy in New York — and celebrated her 97th birthday with a recital at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania on February 6, 2022.

Slenczynska studied with some of the most celebrated pianists in history. As the last living pupil of the composer-pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, she recalls days when they would drink tea together and as a lasting memory, she still wears a Fabergé egg necklace the great musician gifted to her.

Her most recent album My Life in Music was released this year on the Decca label. It is inspired by Slenczynska's personal connections with Rachmaninoff and American composer Samuel Barber, who was her fellow student and friend. Slenczynska heard Barber's now world-famous Adagio for Strings in the classroom, even before it had its title.

You can purchase the album here.