Australian pianist David Helfgott
Described as a child prodigy and a living legend, Australian pianist David Helfgott is the inspiration behind the Academy award-winning movie Shine, which depicts his struggle with mental illness. At a very young age, Helfgott showed extraordinary musical talent, and won the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Classical Music competition an astounding six times.
In 1968 he moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music, where he continued to win a number of prestigious awards. However, as his time in London was coming to an end, David began showing signs of schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness characterized by recurring episodes of mood disorder and psychosis. Triggered by pressure from his father to live out the “prodigy son” career he had in mind for him, David returned to Australia in 1970, at age 23, where he underwent years of psychiatric treatment that included medication and electroshock therapy.
By the late 70s, David says he began “coming out of the fog,” eventually returning to an active life of concertizing that has continued for 40 years, performing throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, United States, Europe and the far east.
In 2021 Helfgott was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the music community. His devoted admirers around the world regard his truly extraordinary performances as an affirmation of the tenacity of the human spirit and imagination.
MUSIC: Rachmaninov: Prelude Op. 38 No. 2 -
David Helfgott, piano, CD RCA 40378
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