23rd July 1849
14th January 1924
Géza Zichy was a Hungarian composer and was also renowned as the world's first professional one-armed pianist. Zichy also published an autobiography ("Aus meinem Leben", 3 vols, 1911–24) and some poetry. Zichy was born im Sztára Castle in 1849. Zichy lost his right arm in a hunting accident at age 14 or 15. Still determined to become a pianist, he persevered by writing and performing piano music for the left hand. In 1873 he began six years of study with Franz Liszt. He also studied under Robert Volkmann. In spite of his limitations, Zichy had a successful career as both a concert pianist and a composer for the next 40 years. He gave entire concerts playing music only for the left hand, the proceeds of which he gave to charity as he was independently wealthy. He was known for his artistic sensitivity as well as dextrous playing and had several admirers; including Franz Liszt who wrote glowing reviews of his performances in letters to friends. The Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, who pulled no punches, said Zichy's playing was "the greatest marvel of modern times on the piano". From 1891 to 1894 he was Intendant of the Royal Hungarian Opera. His appointment spelt the end of Gustav Mahler's term as music director.