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Curtis Mourns the Passing of Peter Serkin

Mr. Serkin (Piano ’64) passed away on February 1 at age 72.

Peter Serkin rehearses at the Wiener KonzerthausThe Curtis Institute of Music was deeply saddened to learn that Peter Serkin passed away on February 1 at age 72. An alumnus, former faculty member, and profoundly gifted pianist, he will be missed by all at Curtis.

The son of former Curtis director and faculty member Rudolf Serkin—who was himself a world-renowned pianist—Peter Serkin entered Curtis in 1958 and studied with his father, with Mieczysław Horszowski, and with Lee Luvisi. After graduating in 1964 at age 16, he soon made headlines with acclaimed recordings of Bach and Schubert.

Mr. Serkin’s musical journey took unexpected turns, beginning shortly after his graduation. He eagerly explored non-classical forms, performed music of all eras in thoughtfully conceived programs, and (along with our current Curtis violin faculty member Ida Kavafian) co-founded the chamber ensemble Tashi, which made a specialty of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.

Peter Serkin discusses concerto with students on 2017 European tourMr. Serkin served on the Curtis faculty from 1992 through 2002, and also taught at several other institutions throughout his long career. As recently as 2017, Curtis students benefited greatly from the insights and wisdom of this extraordinary musician. He accompanied the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on its European tour as soloist in the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, and captivated his younger colleagues. As one student put it at the time, “Mr. Serkin showed us what it means to be a true artist, combining transcendent musicianship with warmth, humility, and kindness.”

Mr. Serkin will be deeply missed by the whole Curtis community. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends, and colleagues.


Obituaries have been published by outlets around the world, including this selection.

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