January 23, 2008: Short list for Charles Taylor prize for literary non-fiction announced. Kevin Bazzana, who won various literary awards for the biography of Glenn Gould he published in 2003, makes this year’s short list for Lost Genius: The Story of a Forgotten Musical Maverick (McClelland & Stewart). Bazzana writes about Ervin Nyiregyhazi, a Hungarian-born concert pianist and composer and a deeply disturbed musician of extraordinary talent.
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Wall Street Journal: Born in 1903, Hungarian pianist Ervin Nyiregyházi (pronounced air-veen nyeer-edge-hah-zee) played Buckingham Palace at age 8, was the subject of a book by the time he turned 13 and soon enjoyed critical success on two continents.
As an adult, he was an alcoholic, addicted to paid sex and afraid to perform in public on the piano. His career foundered, despite champions as diverse as Bela Lugosi and Arnold Schoenberg, and he spent decades living in poverty, mostly in a succession of cheap hotel rooms in California, even after his rediscovery and a brief period of international celebrity in the 1970s.