Obituary: Pianist Peter Serkin, 72

Posted on: February 3, 2020

“Peter Serkin, a pianist admired for his insightful interpretations, technically pristine performances and tenacious commitment to contemporary music, died on Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y., in Dutchess County, near the campus of Bard College, where he was on the faculty,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Saturday’s (2/1) New York Times. “He was 72. His death, from pancreatic cancer, was announced by his family…. His father was the eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin; his maternal grandfather was the influential conductor and violinist Adolf Busch…. By 12, Peter Serkin was performing prominently in public…. He resisted a traditional career trajectory and at 21 stopped performing, going for months without even playing the piano…. At 11, Peter Serkin enrolled at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where his father was teaching…. After graduating at 18, Mr. Serkin took an apartment in New York, avidly listened to recordings by Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead, and explored Buddhist and Hindu spiritual teachings. [In 1973] he formed the chamber ensemble Tashi along with … the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the violinist Ida Kavafian and the cellist Fred Sherry. The group’s signature piece was Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time.’ … Tashi performed it more than 100 times…. Mr. Serkin relished teaching, and held posts at institutions including the Mannes School of Music and the Juilliard School in New York, and, in recent years, Bard.”