Remembering Zuzana Ruzickova

Remembering Zuzana Ruzickova


norman lebrecht

September 28, 2017

A black flag hung last night from the Rudolphinum in Prague, in memory of the great harpsichordist who died yesterday at the age of 90.

She leaves a great hole in our hearts.

Here’s a clip from the forthcoming film of her life.


  • Mather Pfeiffenberger says:

    I saw the film at a showing at the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center in Washington, DC on September 13, just two weeks before her death. Zuzana Ruzickova’s story is surely one of the most inspiring and life-affirming ones I have ever encountered in music or anywhere else. Every music lover should see the film. One of the people interviewed remarks that her Bach recordings are a triumph over the Holocaust, but this is indeed true of her whole performing and recording career. She was afraid at first to return to Germany after the war to give Bach concerts, but her husband, the composer Victor Kalabis, encouraged her, saying that she would be helping to restore the Germans’ own culture to them and reminding them that Bach was greater than Hitler.

  • Costa Pilavachi says:

    What a moving clip you posted Norman. I am so sad that I never met her. What a great lady and her recordings are so good, full of life and imagination. I love her quote about having to be a little crazy on top of all of the other attributes which make a good musician. Thank you.

  • Jory Vinikour says:

    Norman, she was a remarkable lady. I was very privileged to know her. I will never forget the kindness of Zuzana and Viktor, when they invited my father and me to have tea in their Prague apartment, back in 1995. Apart from her extraordinary musical career, Zuzana’s depth, warmth, kindness, gentle wit, and intelligence was unforgettable.

    She wrote a lovely card to me several months ago, when she learned that I would be recording Viktor Kalabis’ concerto for harpsichord and strings (one of the finest modern harpsichord works, in my estimation).

    May she rest in peace.

    • norman lebrecht says:


    • Andreas Silbermann says:

      Modern harpsichord, ugh, Gustav Leonhardt did not approve of replica cembalos with plastic plectra and steel strings. He used to shoot the odd crow for quills, harder to keep in tune, but miles better sound than nylon.

    • Doctor Zaeus says:

      Who gives a shit what old, boring Leonhardt ‘approved of?’ God. Pedants. What do you want to think on your death beds?