Janina Fialkowska

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Janina Fialkowska
Janina Fialkowska 2008.jpg
Background information
Born (1951-05-07) May 7, 1951 (age 71)
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1963–present

Janina Fialkowska, OC (born May 7, 1951) is a Canadian classical pianist. A specialist of the Classic and Romantic repertoires, for more than thirty years she has appeared regularly with professional orchestras around the world, often performing the music of contemporary Polish composers including Lutosławski and Panufnik.

Early life[edit]

Fialkowska was born in Montreal, Quebec, to a Canadian mother (Bridget Todd Fialkowski) and a Polish father (Jerzy Fialkowski), an engineer and Polish army officer who emigrated to Canada in 1945. Her mother, of Scottish-Irish and Cree descent, studied piano in the class of Alfred Cortot at the École Normale de Musique de Paris (1935–1939). Fialkowska is the granddaughter of John Todd, Canada's first professor of parasitology,[1] and great-granddaughter of Edward Clouston, President of the Canadian Bankers Association. She is the cousin of former Canadian cabinet minister David Anderson and cousin of stage and screen actor Christopher Plummer.[2]

Fialkowska began to study piano at the age of four with her mother and in 1960 enrolled in the École Vincent-d'Indy in Montreal. In 1963, at the age of 12, she made her debut as a soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and began studying with Yvonne Hubert. She pursued her secondary education at the Montreal girls school The Study, graduating in 1967. The following year, at the age of 17, she simultaneously obtained undergraduate (Baccalauréat) and Maitrise from the Université de Montréal. During this period, she also studied in Paris with virtuoso and teacher Yvonne Lefébure (1966, 1968–1969). In 1969 she was awarded 1st Prize in the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Performers in Canada and travelled occasionally to New York City for private studies with Sasha Gorodnitzki. In 1970, she settled in New York and enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music as a student of Sasha Gorodnitzki, later becoming his teaching assistant from 1979 to 1984.

In 1974, while enrolled in law school in her hometown of Montreal, Fialkowska participated in the inaugural Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. Unbeknownst to her, one of the judges gave her a zero in order to help his own student advance. But Rubinstein himself, then 87, was impressed by her playing. When he found out about the zero, he threatened to withdraw his name from the competition unless Fialkowska advanced.[3] Rubinstein became her mentor and launched her international career,[4] hailing her as "a born Chopin interpreter."


Fialkowska's solo recital tours have taken her to concert halls throughout Europe, the United States, Canada and the Far East. In Europe, Fialkowska performed as a soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Hallé Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic of London, the BBC Symphony, the Scottish National Orchestra, the Bonn Philharmonic, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Krakow Philharmonic, and the Orchestre National de France.

Concerto appearances in North America have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the Vancouver Symphony.

Over the course of her career, Fialkowska has performed with many well-known conductors, including Sir Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Andrew Davis, Bernard Haitink, Hans Graf, Charles Dutoit, Kyril Kondrashin, Sir Gilbert Levine,[5] Leonard Slatkin, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Thomas Dausgaard and Eiji Oue.

In 1986, to commemorate the centennial of the death of Franz Liszt, Fialkowska was invited to perform his complete Transcendental Études in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, in London for the BBC, and in Canada for the CBC. In 1990, she was chosen to perform, with the Chicago Symphony, the world premiere of the recently discovered Third Piano Concerto of Franz Liszt.

Fialkowska has also given world premiere performances of piano concertos by American composer Libby Larsen, with the Minnesota Orchestra (1991) and by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich, with the Kingston Symphony (2000).

In 1992, the Colorado Symphony invited her to perform the North American premiere of the piano concerto by Sir Andrzej Panufnik. Also in 1992, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced a television documentary of her life and career, entitled The World of Janina Fialkowska, which was aired across Canada and was awarded a special jury prize at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

In January 2002, on the eve of a European concert tour encompassing eight countries, Fialkowska's career was suddenly brought to a halt by the discovery of an aggressive cancerous tumour in her upper left arm. Following the removal of the malignant mass in May 2002, she subsequently underwent an innovative surgical procedure designed to reconstruct the arm that had been rendered almost useless by the excision of the tumour. During her eighteen months of convalescence, she gave many concerts in Europe and North America, performing music written especially for the left hand by Ravel (Concerto for the Left Hand) and Prokofiev (Piano Concerto no. 4), which she adapted for performance with the right hand. Both the public and the critics praised her courage and the high calibre of these performances[6] for example with the Houston Symphony Orchestra under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

In 2004, Fialkowska returned to the stage as a two-handed pianist, first with a recital in Germany,[7] followed by Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto in Toronto.[8] Since then, she has resumed active touring in Canada, the United States, Europe, and the Far East performing amongst others with the Warsaw Philharmonic,[9] the Montreal Symphony,[10] the Toronto Symphony, the Suk Chamber Orchestra Prague,[11] the Vancouver Symphony,[12] the Detroit Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,[13] the Mexico State Orchestra, L'orchestra di Camera Italiana,[14] the Badische Staatskapelle,[15] the Osaka Philharmonic[16] and many others.

In the summer of 2010, Fialkowska hosted a celebration of the works of Chopin at the Festival of the Sound.[17] In 2018, her album Chopin Recital 3 won a Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year.[18]

Fialkowska has also garnered praise for her interpretations of the works of Chopin and Liszt.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Janina Fialkowska is married to German music manager Harry Oesterle (since 2001). They have homes in the United States (Connecticut) and Germany (Bavaria).

Janina Fialkowska has written an autobiography, A Note In Time, published by novum-publishing.[20]

Piano Six and Piano Plus[edit]

Janina Fialkowska was the founder and first artistic director of Piano Six, a not-for-profit educational outreach program dedicated to supporting classical music in small communities throughout Canada. In 1993, Fialkowska convinced five well-known Canadian classical pianists to join with her in a tour of outlying communities that rarely host internationally known musicians. In order to serve as many communities as possible, Fialkowska and the other Piano Six artists agreed to perform for a fraction of their usual fees.

During its decade of operation (1993–2003), this program sent its artists on more than 60 regional tours, reaching over 100,000 Canadians of all ages with live performances, masterclasses and teachers' workshops. In 2004, in order to broaden the scope of its activities, the Piano Six roster was expanded to include Canadian musicians from the fields of strings and voice as well as piano. Under the banner of Piano Plus, the new program's associated artists continue to tour in Canada each season.[citation needed]

Awards and honours[edit]

Recording career[edit]

Two of Fialkowska's recordings were nominated by the Canadian music industry for a Juno Award: her 1997 CD Fialkowska plays Szymanowski (ODR 9305) and her 1998 recital of virtuoso salon pieces La Jongleuse (CBC MVCD 1114). Her 2001 recording of Liszt's Transcendental Études (ODR 9332) earned the Critics’ Choice award from American Record Guide. She has also recorded the Liszt Sonata for RCA Red Seal and discs of various works by Chopin for Atma Classique.

In 2007, it was discovered that some recordings originally attributed to the deceased pianist Joyce Hatto (1928–2006) contained tracks that had been plagiarized from recordings by other artists, including Mephisto Waltz and Venezia e Napoli from Fialkowska's 1990 CD of works by Franz Liszt. The discovery of these plagiarized tracks led to one of the biggest scandals in the classical music recording business.[27][28]


Orchestral / Concertos[edit]

  • W.A.Mozart: Piano Concertos, nos. 11 and 12 (chamber version). With The Chamber Players of Canada. Atma Classique SACD2 2531. (2007)
  • Frédéric Chopin: Concertos (chamber version). With The Chamber Players of Canada. Atma Classique SACD2 2291. (2005)
  • Franz Liszt: Piano Concerti. With the Calgary Philharmonic, cond. Hans Graf. CBC Records, SMCD 5202. (2000)
  • Paderewski: Piano Concerto; Fantaisie polonaise. Naxos 8.554020. (1999)
  • Memories of Poland: Chopin, Moszkowski, Koprowski. CBC Records, SMCD 5140. (1995)

Solo albums[edit]

  • Chopin: Book II (sonatas, impromptus) (2001)
  • Transcendental Liszt: Transcendental Études (complete). Opening Day Recordings, ODR 9332. (2000)
  • Fialkowska plays Chopin: The Études, opp. 10 & 25. Opening Day Recordings, ODR 9312. (1998)
  • La Jongleuse: Salon pieces and encores CBC Records, MVCD 1114. (1998)
  • Fialkowska plays Szymanowski: 4 Études; Variations sur un thème folklorique polonais; Métopes; 2 Mazurkas. Opening Day Recordings, ODR 9305. (1995)
  • Franz Liszt: Pieces for Piano Solo. CBC Records MVCD 2–1035. (1990)
  • Presenting Janina Fialkowska: Liszt solo piano works. RCA Red Seal FRL1-1042. (1977)[29]
  • Janina Fialkowska plays Chopin. RCA Red Seal RL-37071 (1977)[30]


  • None But the Lonely Heart: Russian Romances. With soprano Joanne Kolomyjec. CBC Records, MVCD 1144. (2001)
  • Brahms/Schumann: Lieder. With bass-baritone Daniel Lichti. Opening Day Recordings, ODR 9311. (1997)
  • Schubert: Schwanengesang. With bass-baritone Daniel Lichti. Opening Day Recordings, ODR 9302. (1994)


  1. ^ A. Murray Fallis, "John L. Todd, Canada's first professor of parasitology" in Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 129, September 1, 1983
  2. ^ Christopher Plummer, "In Spite of myself", New York (Knopf) 2008. p. 590f
  3. ^ Paolo Pietropaolo, In Concert, CBC Music, Jan. 26, 2020.
  4. ^ Arthur Rubinstein, My many years, New York (Knopf) 1980 p. 601
  5. ^ Kozinn, Allan (March 6, 1993). "The Cracow Philharmonic's Lesson for American Cities". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Charles Ward: Pianist switch-hits to perform Ravel, in: Houston Chronicle, September 27, 2002
  7. ^ Helmut Mauro: Mit der Kraft des Dur-Vertrauens, in : Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Munich)November 16, 2006
  8. ^ Janina Fialkowska Reborn, 2004 May 10 Accessed 2017-01-17
  9. ^ Teresa Grabowska/Jozef Kanski : Wystrzalowa koncowka in Trybuna, (Warsaw) June 14, 2004
  10. ^ Claude Gingras : OSM/Fialkowska : La main hereuse, La Presse (Montreal), September 27, 2004
  11. ^ Augsburger Allgemeine, July 26, 2004
  12. ^ Pianist in top form after courageous comeback, in : Vancouver Sun, April 30, 2005
  13. ^ Elizabeth Grice : 'I couldn't lift my hand to the keyboard' in : The Daily Telegraph, April 17, 2006
  14. ^ Mauro Bellachioma : Batte il cancro e suona per il Calcit in : Corriere di Arezzo, December 2005
  15. ^ Claus-Dieter Hanauer : Polnisches Intermezzo, in : Badische Neueste Nachrichten, July 16, 2008
  16. ^ Ongaku na Tomo (Japan), May 2008
  17. ^ "Season Highlights". Festival of the Sound. Archived from the original on July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  18. ^ "Junos 2018: the complete list of winners". CBC News, · March 25, 2018
  19. ^ "Review of Janina Fialkowska concert", By Rosemarie Sherba, Nanaimo Concervatory of Music, March, 2016
  20. ^ "A Note in Time".
  21. ^ "CBC National Radio Competition for Young Performers – First Prize Winners". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  22. ^ The Arthur Rubinstein International Music Society – The First Competition, September 1974 Archived May 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Order of Canada – Janina Fialkowska, O.C.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Acadia University to award over 900 degrees during May convocation ceremonies – Six honorary degrees to be awarded to international field of high achievers Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Awards Archived November 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Rush wins Governor General's Award". CBC News. March 6, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  27. ^ The "Joyce Hatto" hoax, and the segment from the Liszt 'Mephisto Waltz' which first drew attention to Hatto. Updated 2016-April-24 Archived April 11, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 2017-01-17
  28. ^ lisztrecital CD- "...source for Mephisto Waltz is Janina Fialkowska's Liszt CD... La Notte is taken from Michel Dalberto's CD..." at farhanmalik.com/hatto Accessed 2017-01-17
  29. ^ Gramophone Archive – Review
  30. ^ Gramophone Archive – Review


External links[edit]