Fou Ts'ong

Fou Ts'ong

Piano

• 1934 2020

Biography

Fou Ts'ong was generally regarded as the leading Chinese pianist of his time and one of the most highly respected interpreters of the music of Chopin. Following his prize-winning effort at the 1955 Chopin Competition, Fou went on to establish residence in London and build a successful career both on the concert stage and in the recording studio. Martha Argerich acknowledged him as an influence on her Chopin performances, and other pianistic icons, like Leon Fleisher and Radu Lupu, spoke of his extraordinary skills. Fou was generally conservative in his choice of repertory: besides Chopin, he played much Mozart, including sonatas, other solo works and concertos, as well as the music of J.S. Bach, Scarlatti, and Beethoven, and other major composers. Fou was known for his lengthy concert tours, which often covered much of Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Fou made numerous recordings, most available on Sony, Decca, and Meridian Records.

Fou Ts'ong was born in Shanghai, China, on March 10, 1934. In his youth, he studied piano in Shanghai with renowned Italian pianist and conductor Mario Paci. Fou made his debut there in 1951, playing the Beethoven Fifth Piano Concerto. In 1953, Fou won third prize at the Bucharest Piano Competition. That same year, he began studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, where his most important teacher was Zbigniew Drzewiecki. Fou captured third prize at the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1955. He was also awarded the Polish Radio Prize there for best performance of the Chopin mazurkas.

Fou relocated to London in 1958. In the early 1960s, he recorded 18 Chopin mazurkas for the Westminster label and drew broad international acclaim. He would go on to make many further recordings, including a complete set of the mazurkas in 1984 (now available on Sony). Fou continued with a heavy schedule of concerts right into the 1990s. He returned to China on a concert tour in 1989 and again in 1998. There he gave many highly praised performances in Beijing and Shanghai and also conducted master classes. In the new century, Fou remained active as a performer, with numerous tours, including concerts in Shanghai in the spring of 2006. He was also active as a member of competition juries, serving on the Queen Elizabeth Competition jury four times, including 2010. His later recordings include an acclaimed 2009 Meridian Records album of Chopin mazurkas. Fou was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, dying in hospital in London on December 28, 2020.

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