Back

Terrible news: Death of a dazzling US pianist, aged 29

October 23, 2014 by norman lebrecht

26 comments.


We have received tragic news of the death of Christopher Falzone.

A Leon Fleisher student at Curtis, he won a fistful of awards, including Martha Argerich’s Virtuosos of the Future (2009) and the Blanche Selva (2010). He gave concertos with Michael Tilson Thomas in Los Angeles and Leonard Slatkin in Chicago, and a wide range of recitals in Europe.

argerich falzone

 

He had technique to spare and made his own transcription of Busoni’s notoriously difficult piano concerto. But all was not well with his mental health and he was confined to hospital. He was unable to attend the Argerich festival last summer, prevented from doing so (he maintained) by legal restraints.

We do not yet have confirmation of the cause or place of death yesterday (Tuesday), but the loss is very great indeed.

UPDATE: More details here.

christopher falzone


Comments (26)

  1. I am truly shocked to hear this – his was a remarkable talent, as evidenced by the solo transcriptions of chamber and concertante works on his YouTube channel. Here is another great example of his work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gi7wMjngyM

  2. Rui Chen says:

    I have never heard of him before, but he was a true genius, able to transcribe Busoni’s concerto into solo work..! Sorry for such a loss..

  3. Alla Aranovskaya says:

    I know a lot of details and can share it

    1. Kweku says:

      Please kindly share the details. What a tragic loss.

      1. Alla Aranovskaya says:

        contact me in Facebook I’ll do it privately

    2. John Tryvenor says:

      Alla –

      Please do share what details you know…what happened to him?

      1. Papageno says:

        For anyone who is interested, here is Christopher’s Go Fund Me page describing (from his point of view) his troubles:

        http://www.gofundme.com/Christopher-Falzone-piano

        Whatever the truth is, it’s indescribably sad that he’s dead.

        1. Alla Aranovskaya says:

          This is just half of the true. This page was created by his wife.

          1. Christine says:

            Alla is exactly correct. The parents have been completely misrepresented here.
            This page was created and (almost definitely) written by his wife.

          2. Papageno says:

            I figured that reading the Go Fund Me page only gave part of the story, but wasn’t sure. Perhaps it’s really not for us on message boards to pry and search and try to find about it since the terrible circumstances don’t concern us.

            But seeing this brilliant young man playing Ravel’s La Valse from memory on a rickety upright piano in a nursing home just about broke my heart.

  4. Jeffrey Biegel says:

    This is terribly tragic to learn. In watching the Tschaikowsky Concerto transcription, one immediately senses this is a huge talent, who took the time to recreate a masterpiece and make it all fit in two hands somehow. We will never know how much his talent would have developed further.

  5. Papageno says:

    I saw him play as a nineteen year old in Disney Hall with the YMF Orchestra with both Michael Tilson Thomas and Joanna Caneiro leading the program. He was extremely talented and received a standing ovation from the audience.

    I’m saddened to hear of his death. Gone far too soon.

  6. doublebassist says:

    I hope that Christopher is at rest and his troubles are finally over. I am beyond honored to have met this genius, even if it was under the most tragic of circumstances. Perhaps he was not was not cut out for this world, or maybe the world was not ready for him. My heart breaks for all of those who loved him.

  7. El Grillo says:

    You gusy don’t know what it’s like to play on these wrenched up piece of fence called whatever they are, now adays. And the tuning, and the length your arms end up being at because of the tuning, and the howling at night because of all the flexibility, it’s disgusting!

  8. Rita Reichman says:

    I did not know of Christopher Falzone until reading of his tragic death today. I was moved to listen to his YouTube clips and was mesmerised by this phenomenal musical gift, not only of his natural, easy pianism but of his
    3-dimentional layered sound.
    Many years ago I was also awarded the Festorazzi Prize at Curtis and I feel a personal understanding of some of the pressures he would have endured.
    This is a real loss to the musical world.

    1. a friend of Christopher's says:

      To everyone who has been “informed” ℅ Go Fund Me page and Christopher’s fan club web page – both written by Christopher’s wife, Lily:

      Unfortunately, the circumstances leading to Christopher’s death are very complicated and have been deliberately misrepresented by these websites

      I am writing now with the permission of Christopher’s family to help provide answers to some of the questions that have been raised.

      I have known Christopher since his years at Curtis and have observed first-hand Christopher’s financial difficulties and struggles during his marriage and, very sadly, during the unfolding events of the last year. Throughout this time, I can assure you that his parents have done everything possible to help their son. I have also witnessed the change of heart by several close friends of Christopher and Lily concerning their attitudes about Christopher’s parents – a change that resulted from their meeting and speaking with the parents, and subsequent understanding of how Christopher’s parents had been systematically maligned and cut off by Lily. In time, moreover, these former friends observed for themselves the types of abuses and manipulation that Christopher suffered from his wife, who continually acted to control and isolate him.

      What has not been made known is that Christopher made at least three suicide attempts while in his wife’s care during the past year, before his final jump from the roof of the hospital in Geneva. In response to his first two suicide attempts, his parents made every effort to get the medical and psychiatric help that Christopher so desperately needed. If you visit the webpages for Christopher, you will see that there is mention of two “accidents” that left him bound to a wheel chair. In fact, this refers to the first two suicide attempts Christopher made in Philadelphia (jumping off the Walnut St bridge – Oct 2013 and Feb 2014). It was out of urgent concern over these events that prompted his parents to intercede to get their son the medical and psychiatric help he needed.

      At first, they were not able to do so, because they were barred by Lily, not only from seeing their son after the 1st attempt, but also from receiving any news about his condition at the UPENN hospital … behavior consistent with Lily’s previous interference that blocked Christopher’s parents from having any contact with their son for more than eight years of their marriage.

      Circumstances changed, however, after the 2nd jump: with reports from several doctors who were convinced that Christopher was at extreme risk to attempt another suicide, as Lily made it known that she had no intention to follow through with any of their recommended therapies, Christopher’s parents – as their last possible effort to get help for their son – applied for a court-appointed 3rd person guardian to assist in getting the medical and psychiatric therapies recommended by both the UPENN and Hahnemann Hospitals in Philadelphia. The court approved their petition, and in defiance of this Philadelphia court order in May 2014, Christopher’s wife took Christopher out of the country to Switzerland, thereby breaking the law and terminating the supportive therapies that were mandated by the court.

      During his hospitalization in Philadelphia from Feb to May, Christopher’s parents had the opportunity to reconnect with their son, when they successfully petitioned the court for permission to have regular visits. As hospital staff, family and friends can attest, Christopher never wavered in his love for his parents, just as his parents never wavered in their love for their son.

      Christopher’s death is heartbreaking on so many levels – not the least of which is the enormous tragedy and loss that his parents are suffering. They received the news of their son’s death by tertiary sources, the day after — not even aware that their son had been hospitalized in Geneva for a previous attempt to end his life.

      In every way, this is a tragic loss of a beautiful spirit and musical talent …
      – I write this as a friend of Christopher’s, who knew him from his first days at Curtis, and who visited him during his hospital recoveries in Philadelphia and attended both court hearings.

      1. Alla Aranovskaya says:

        Please, let me know who are you, because my husband and I also was witness at the court on May 28 and I tried to talk to his parents.
        I’m really sorry for their lost and I tried to inform Mr. Falzone about Chris’s death.I tried to do my best to help Chris to survive to let him play.
        If you were at the court in May you’ve heard my speech where I offered him to stay with our family and participate our music life.
        Please, ask his parents to call me I have some information.
        I can send you my phone and email by facebook private message.
        I totally agree that Lily responsible for his death. And I want to let Chris’s parents know that I’ll help them as much as I can .
        sincerely, Alla

  9. Alla Aranovskaya says:

    I’m 90% sure his wife will try to make money on his death.
    she was unsuccessful to make money on his life. so now she will probably pretend that she will write the book about him.
    and I trying to get in touch with his parents to let them know about his tragic death.
    sorry I was stupid enough to help her in May offering my house for them to stay and my connections get some concerts for Chris.
    I invited him to play with our Quartet as well. Me and my husband came to the nursing home 2 days before the court to play with Chris Brahms trio op.8 . but the result was https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjdKautmZys&list=UU58MB6RU41Wz8OIT6yNfOuw

  10. Alla Aranovskaya says:

    Read this letter and the other, written the same day. Is it not strange- totally different style.?
    I’m sure this is not him. He was talking about the music, nature, raspberries that he loved, weather, sun but no one bad word about anyone. So the first letter made by his wife and the second is him

    Cindy Morris-Shah‎Peter Politti
    Christopher Falzone: August 22, 2014
    The voices of children that sing of fables and songs, the hollow accord of their performances, the tones pertrude the empty loftiness of the air, and the potent articulation follow in accord of the harmony. Footsteps in light gallops to hold up a scroll and elders stupefied by their present. A golden shield murmurs the sounds of emblematic expression. The two of us measured the rope and cordially came to each other with loosened hose, and a third party wrapped us in circles. I took off my shoes and felt the grass. The untangled cords and the wet marsh, the damp of the soft ground. A glow of a flashlight and shelves of doors open widely. I wrap my arm in silk drapes. There were men in maintenance who plied the shelves with various tools. They bolted the hinges, fastened the nozzles, protractors and screwdrivers. Our car winded up the mountain in rounds. The wheels spun hastily while the vehicle traversed steadily up its course. I was caught in a chat about my friend’s mountain climbing. There were blankets in the back seat, pillows also, all to have a good night’s sleep. Stopping by a pool, a basin, where water welled up and rain splashed to add effect. The staircase to our rooms were steep, yet the cats jumped from level to level. There were different views depending on the side of the house you looked out of. The curtains were open. The maps in the lobby gave directions where to go. I sat next to a lonesome stranger outside and he smoked a fresh cigar that gave fumes of ash and fog. The flags of distant lands flapped untoiled, with stationed position. Curlicues of the staircase banners and sheaths of lumber for the exterior boarded the house. An eagle’s nest rested in a high canopy. The flight of an eagle is unlike any other. He soars so confidently and nobly, without any hesitation or struggle. I took my bags and packed again the car. We continued to a village low in a valley where the hills were high and steep. There were stores of foreign dress, small and odd commodities, unusual décor and books from all lands. There were supposedly tribes that inhabitied the caves nearby, and behind the great rocks were believed to be wild tigers and lions with manes that could ward off any predator. Perched high on a tree was a blackbird or sparrow who flew around.

  11. Edmund Schoenenberger, barrister at law says:

    Ich hatte mit Christopher Falzone mehrere telefonische Unterhaltungen, während er in der Schweiz war. Er hat mich auch schriftlich ausführlich über seine Situation orientiert. Kurz vor seinem Sprung hat er mir angerufen, ist jedoch lediglich auf meinen Telefonbeantworter geraten. Darüber habe ich ein Tondokument. Ich habe ihm sofort zurückgerufen, es kam jedoch ebenfalls nur sein Beantworter.

    Aus all den Dokumenten und seinen Äusserungen geht hervor, was für ihn falsch gelaufen ist:

    1. Das Zerwürfnis mit den Eltern.
    2. Dass ihm in Amerika ein Vormund aufgezwungen worden ist.
    3. Dass er in Amerika wiederholt in psychiatrische Institutionen eingeliefert und dort gezwungen worden war, Psychopharmaka einzunehmen.
    4. Dass er in die psych. Anstalt Schlosstal Winterthur zwangseingewiesen worden ist.
    5. Dass ihm das Schlosstal noch nicht einmal Urlaub gewährt hat, um an einem festgesetzten Konzertauftritt im Tessin teilzunehmen.
    6. Dass ihn das Schlosstal nicht entlassen wollte. Zusätzlich ist auf die betrübliche Rolle hinzuweisen, welche sein Vater gespielt hat. Als Christopher Falzone im Schlosstal die Entlassung verlangt hat, fand eine Gerichtsverhandlung statt. Er war durch keinen Anwalt vertreten. An die Verhandlung wurde der Vater via Videokonferenz zugeschaltet. Er votierte dafür, dass sein Sohn weiterhin in der Anstalt zu verbleiben habe und dass seine Rückschaffung nach Amerika in die Wege geleitet werden müsse. Aus Protest verliess Christopher Falzone die Verhandlung. Seine Entlassungsklage wurde vom Gericht abgeschmettert. Das Urteil liegt mir vor.
    7. Dass ihm nach seiner Entlassung – ohne ihm die geringste Beschwerdemöglichkeit einzuräumen – sein Pass entzogen und dieser vom Schlosstal an die amerikanische Botschaft in Bern geschickt worden ist.
    8. Dass die Botschaft sich geweigert hat, ihm den Pass vorbehaltlos auszuhändigen. Mangels eines gültigen Reisedokuments konnte er nicht, wie er sehnlichst gewünscht hat, seine Konzerttätigkeit fortsetzen.
    9. Dass er – wie der Tonbandaufnahme entnommen werden kann – im Spital in Genf genötigt worden ist, Psychopharmaka einzunehmen.

    Gründe genug, um diesmal eine Höhe für seinen Sprung zu wählen, welche tödlich war…

    Edmund Schoenenberger
    Barrister at law

    Es ist eine Schande, dass dieser begnadete Virtuose in den Tod getrieben worden ist.

    1. Alla Aranovskaya says:

      Dear Mr. Schoenenberger.
      I knew more details about the tragic role of his wife in this terrible situation.
      Could you, please contact me because in your post I can see only information of the role of his parents and medical institutions but the situation between Chris and his parents was provoked by his wife and i can proof it because I was witness at the court and I know this women for more than 40 years.
      Please, let me explain it to you.
      my email is [email protected]

  12. Edmund Schoenenberger, barrister at law says:

    I have set the latest message from Christopher Falzone the same morning before his death online, so that everyone can make himself acquainted with all that actualy has disturbed him.

    Edmund Schoenenberger

    http://www.psychex.ch/doku/christopherfalzone.wav

    1. Alla Aranovskaya says:

      His voice sounds not natural. I feel that he is reading something that written on the paper. He talked differently in real life. I had 20 min conversation with him on Sep. 1 by skype and than by phone.when he called me from the Geneva hospital ( after his 4th attempt to suicide.)
      This is copy of our conversation on Skype.

      [9/1/2014 6:18:30 PM] christopher falzone: hi are you there?
      [9/1/2014 6:19:59 PM] *** Call from christopher falzone, duration 00:37. ***
      [9/1/2014 6:21:42 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: The connections is bad.
      [9/1/2014 6:22:01 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: can I call you by phone?
      [9/1/2014 6:22:03 PM] christopher falzone: yeah you seemed really glad about campaign
      [9/1/2014 6:22:23 PM] christopher falzone: yes
      [9/1/2014 6:22:44 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: It was fun. I played and people stopped by and I invited them to the concert.
      [9/1/2014 6:23:02 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: do you have landline phone?
      [9/1/2014 6:23:11 PM] christopher falzone: i hav mobile
      [9/1/2014 6:23:25 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Do you want me to call/
      [9/1/2014 6:23:28 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: ?
      [9/1/2014 6:23:30 PM] christopher falzone: i check what is the numbr
      [9/1/2014 6:23:39 PM] christopher falzone: yes
      [9/1/2014 6:23:52 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Great
      [9/1/2014 6:24:10 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Are you in the same clinic?
      [9/1/2014 6:24:33 PM] christopher falzone: no i am in HUG
      [9/1/2014 6:24:39 PM] christopher falzone: hospital of geneva
      [9/1/2014 6:25:01 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: when did you came there?
      [9/1/2014 6:25:37 PM] christopher falzone: about a couple weeks ago. have you talked with briskin anymore
      [9/1/2014 6:25:45 PM] christopher falzone: what is going on about my legal guardian?
      [9/1/2014 6:26:06 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: do they have phone that I can call? I know it’s late it’s about 1 AM in Geneva.
      [9/1/2014 6:27:10 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: He cheat and he stolled my money. since you sent me the letter that you don’t want to come and by under my guardianship
      [9/1/2014 6:27:12 PM] christopher falzone: one minute i check
      [9/1/2014 6:28:37 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: I ask him do not process and ask him to send my money back, but he resined and now I have to Appeal to the Disciplinary court to get my money back
      [9/1/2014 6:28:56 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: I’m so happy thet you call me.
      [9/1/2014 6:29:45 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Are you here?
      [9/1/2014 6:30:40 PM] christopher falzone: yeah, I wait for someone to come about a phone
      [9/1/2014 6:30:51 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: OK.
      [9/1/2014 6:31:44 PM] christopher falzone: ok
      [9/1/2014 6:31:59 PM] christopher falzone: my number is 0767728003
      [9/1/2014 6:32:34 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: It’s in your room?
      [9/1/2014 6:32:41 PM] christopher falzone: no my mobile
      [9/1/2014 6:33:07 PM] christopher falzone: I have been eating a lot of this chia with raspberries since you gave me some to try
      [9/1/2014 6:33:26 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: should I dial +44 before your number?
      [9/1/2014 6:33:45 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Is + 41
      [9/1/2014 6:34:38 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Great. I’ll try to call now
      [9/1/2014 6:34:49 PM] *** Call to christopher falzone ***
      [9/1/2014 6:34:50 PM] christopher falzone: ok
      [9/1/2014 6:46:35 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: auercometition.ru
      [9/1/2014 6:48:55 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: http://auercompetition.ru/popechitelskij-sovet
      [9/1/2014 6:52:21 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: BOARD OF TRUSTEES
      [9/1/2014 6:53:34 PM] *** Call ended, duration 08:06 ***
      [9/1/2014 6:53:41 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: Love you (kiss)
      [9/1/2014 6:54:08 PM] Alla Aranovskaya: (music)(music)(sun)(F)(music)
      [9/1/2014 6:54:19 PM] christopher falzone: (highfive)
      Call to christopher falzone, no answer.

      1. Edmund Schoenenberger, barrister at law says:

        Your feeling, that he is reading something that written on the paper, is wrong. I also had several conversations with him before. That was his way to talk.

        Edmund Schoenenberger


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *