Kon was born into a poor Jewish family in Warsaw. He began his piano training aged about 10, at the Moscow Conservatory under Konstantin Igumnov. In 1924 he returned to Poland and continued his studies, first at the Chopin Higher Academy, and then at the Warsaw Conservatory under Aleksander Michałowski and afterwards under Juliusz Wertheim and Zbigniew Drzewiecki. Even as a student he showed extraordinary powers, and a front-rank career was anticipated for him.
After graduation he moved to Kraków as professor of piano at the Music Society Conservatory there, of which he became Director in 1929–1931. By now he was giving orchestral concerts in Warsaw and Kraków, and in 1932, at Drzewiecki's urging, he entered the second International Chopin Piano Competition and won the third prize. In the following year, after a short period of preparation living in Vienna, he entered the second International Music Competition there and obtained first prize. (It was on this occasion that Alfred Cortot, a member of the jury, walked out because the prize had been awarded to Kon and not to Dinu Lipatti, who took second prize.) Kon at once received many invitations to give concerts.
However, he suffered from a form of existential depression and committed suicide in Warsaw in June 1936. He was afflicted with a hereditary mental illness and attended a sanatorium at regular intervals. The need to continue his career caused him to cut short a period of treatment, and it was in this way that the fatal melancholy overtook him.
According to Professor Drzewiecki, Kon was the greatest pianistic genius that he ever heard; Mme Margherita Trombini-Kazuro described his playing as of great nobility and spontaneity. It is believed that he made no recordings.
- J. Methuen-Campbell 1981, 116.
- J. Methuen-Campbell 1981, 182.
- J. Methuen-Campbell, Chopin Playing From The Composer To The Present Day (Gollancz, London 1981).
- Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Website.
- Vienna's Music Contests 1933 → " Musical Courier July 15, 1933. → http://blog.livedoor.jp/bookshell/archives/1286524.html
- Fryderyk Chopin Institute biographic sketch of Kon,