Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick.


392 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-7710-1121-4
DDC 786.2'092




Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is Financial and Budget Manager at the University of British
Columbia Library.


Ervin Nyiregyhazi was recognized as a musical prodigy in his native Hungary at the age of four, and went on to an extraordinary career as one of the 20th century’s most gifted and stylistically unique concert pianists. His life was tumultuous from both a musical and a personal perspective. As a performer his fortunes swung between international acclaim and penniless obscurity several times over the course of his 84 years. As a child he was the subject of a four-year study by psychologist Geza Revesz, culminating in a book on musical prodigies that became a classic in its field, but he was exploited and abused for his parents’ gain. He suffered throughout his life from various psychological problems that affected his behaviour and interpersonal relations, making it difficult for him to find stability anywhere. He was proud, wilful, and self-indulgent, especially with drink and his liaisons with women, but his self-confidence could be disturbed by the merest slight. He had 10 wives and was faithful to none of them. His last wife adored him and became his champion and protector. She had the foresight to document his life and work through a series of recorded conversations and extensive notes, with the intention of publishing his biography. Kevin Bazzana had access to her material as well as Nyiregyhazi’s own manuscripts, compositions, recordings, and memorabilia as he meticulously researched and documented this amazing account of one of music’s most talented and bizarre personalities. Nyiregyhazi’s life is a great story and Bazzana tells it well, not shying away from the unattractive and distasteful details yet ultimately giving Nyiregyhazi the recognition and respect he deserved and sought all his life.


Bazzana, Kevin., “Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28885.