Music: At Least One Czech

When handsome young Czech Pianist Rudolf Firkusny took his first crack at the U.S. concert stage in 1938, he thought "big bravura playing" was the way to hammer U.S. critics into submission. But about the highest praise the New York Times could manage was that he "successfully held the attention of the audience." Firkusny, then 25—"much too young," he says now—tried a short U.S. tour without much more luck, then headed for home a little sadder and a great deal wiser.

He did not stay home very long: Hitler and the German army had also headed for Czechoslovakia. Firkusny went to Paris,...

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