Back

Sad loss of a pedigree pianist

October 30, 2015 by norman lebrecht

10 comments.


Shocked and saddened to report the death of Ricci Horenstein, a noted concert pianist and outstanding piano teacher who sepnt the second half of her long life in London.

A cousin of the great conductor Jascha Horenstein, Ricci fled Vienna just ahead of the Nazis and wound up destitute in Palestine as a teenager, in 1941.

The former Berlin cultural organiser Leo Kestenberg took her in as a pupil in Tel Aviv, giving her five lessons a week without charge and later employing her as his assistant.

Life’s circumstances took Ricci to South Africa and later to England, where she applied Kestenberg’s teaching principles in the purest form.

Lively, witty and borderline wicked, she was on fine form at our dinner table last Friday night. Her death comes as a shock to her many friends. She was, we think, 89 years old. No-one ever asked.

Ricci was well loved.

ricci horenstein


Comments (10)

  1. Misha says:

    Ricci was born in December 1922, so she was almost 93. She was my father’s second wife, although they divorced back in the early 1960s. Her first husband was at some point the principal oboist of the Israel PO when it was the Palestine Orchestra. Your description of her as “Lively, witty and borderline wicked” is spot on, I would add very provocative too. She often had terrible arguments with her friends but they always forgave her. She was a fine pianist who could have made a concert career but for her crippling stage fright.

    1. Dan Kraft says:

      I loved Ricci. She was a friend back in Vienna and a London neighbour of my family for many years. We were in touch and her mind was so young! We spoke especially on Jewish holidays. A sad loss. I thought she’d live forever.

  2. Gina says:

    I am in shock! I CANNOT believe that I will not see her anymore! I just found out from AJR!

    She was such an extraordinary, unique person!
    I will miss her so much…..

    May HaShem bless her memory!

  3. Robin Judd says:

    Sleep well Ricci,
    You were one of my oldest clients – demanding, difficult but always entrancing. Your determination to master and use email was amazing.
    I will always remember you.
    Robin Judd

  4. Robert and patrick says:

    Ricci was a amazing talent, and a amazing friend. Even though she could be difficult , she was a one off . A real character unique.
    Will be sadly missed as she brought so much to my life, and encouragment. And will leave a big void in our life’s.
    Ma Hashem
    There are prayers for Ricci at south Hampstead synagogue at eton villas corner of Eton road nw3 at 7-15 on 2nd of November .

  5. Mariko says:

    Dear Ricci had her 90th Birthday party last December. I will remember her fondly and wish I could hear more of her stories old and new. Ricci is largely, mostly, possibly entirely responsible for my piano duo with Julian Jacobson. It is the concert she organised at Burgh House in July 2011 which marks the start of our duo. Already , a great friend and admirer of Julian’s huge musical talent, she asked him to do a concert of all American music for Independence day. She wanted Rhapsody in Blue to feature in it but Julian preferred the duet version and he asked me to join him. I got on immediately with Ricci – she said I was very calming! From then on friends but I wish of course that I could have found more time to get to know her more. She was hugely supportive and encouraging. She was indeed lively , spirited and borderline wicked! I admired her honesty. Sad news that she is no longer with us in physical terms.. Rest in Peace, Ricci , your spirit forever strong, with gratitude for your part in my life. Mariko

    1. Julian Jacobson says:

      Never saw this lovely tribute from till now Mariko! Looking forward to the Memorial Concert on March 30 in Burgh House, which is indeed where we first played “Rhapsody in Blue” for Ricci.

  6. Robert says:

    A Year has gone by and I still think of Ricci most days about something or other.
    .Luckily I have a wonderful ‘live’ memory of her playing Bach’s first Prelude in C. which I video at her home whilst trying out my IPhone. I treasure these precious two minutes deeply and take a look at it whenever I feel blue.
    She brought so much life to my life and made me feel anything is possible. And It is.. It really is. I miss her very much.She touched so many lives including mine and yes I thought she would live on forever……

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      I am so glad that she spent her last Friday night at our table…

  7. Gina says:

    I still miss Ricci, too! It will never be someone, like her!


Leave a Reply

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