Rubinstein’s protégée is Captain von Trapp’s cousin

Rubinstein’s protégée is Captain von Trapp’s cousin


norman lebrecht

April 30, 2021

The Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska will turn 70 next weekend.

Rubinstein’s last pupil has enjoyed a vibrant international career.

Useful fact: the actor Christopher Plummer was her cousin and neighbour in Connecticut.


  • Her recording of the chamber versions of Chopin’s two piano concertos (on ATMA) is an absolute treasure. She has such a natural feeling for the style.

  • E says:

    This is a treasure — both to hear her speak, and to hear her play Chopin! Thank you.
    You (plural) made my day.

  • msc says:

    I’ve had the good fortune to hear Ms Fialkowska play around half a dozen times. Once she wasn’t in particularly good form, but the rest were all exceptional. I am awed at her determination and ability to overcome the health problems she has had.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Janina Fialkowska: “What is my goal in life? It’s not musical – my goal is to have a vegetable garden.”
    Not only is Madame Fialkowska a marvelous pianist and a brilliant exponent of true Chopin style, she is a very well-centered person.
    Happy birthday and many happy returns, cher Madame!
    (And an aside about Christopher Plummer: from the short clip, he sounded like he very well COULD have had a career as a pianist, but he was such a brilliant actor that for him, and for his appreciative theatre audiences, things seemed to work out the way they should have.)

  • Lady Weidenfeld says:

    Janina is a treasure in more ways than one! After she won her prize in the Rubinstein Competition in 1974, I brought her to Spain at Rubinstein’s suggestion, she was a great success and we became firm friends. I often think how proud he would have been at her courage and determination during her treatment for the cancer which could have put an end to her career. We knew later her doctors did not believe she would play again! She was indomitable arranging works written for the left hand, playing them with the right; training her limp arm to move and play with gruelling physiotherapy and always keeping her wonderful sense of humour. I will never forget her first comeback recital in Augsburg after the whole ordeal, listening to her play a difficult program wonderfully. The tears were rolling among her friends in the audience. Rubinstein’s motto, which he lived by, was Nie dam się in Polish – I will never give up. How proud he would be of his protégée who,when severely tested, never gave up and plays even more beautifully than before! Wishing her many many happy and healthy returns, she shares her birthday with Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Menahem and I will be drinking l’chaim to all three!

  • Carol Rooney Hart says:

    Breathtaking to hear you play Chopin. I could joyously listen to you all day- simply divine.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Congratulations, health, and long life to Janine Fialkowska. Rubinstein was a good judge. Maryla Jonas (1911-1959) was another of his protogees and also a noted Chopin player, especially of his mazurkas. She also studied with Paderewski, like Witold Malcuzynski and Halina Czerny-Stefanska.

  • Happiest of Birthdays to one of Canada’s treasures, whom we are proud to share with the world, in particular a corner of Bavaria. Janina, your music and your person are both beautiful beyond measure.
    Much love, Debra