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IN MEMORIAM | Versatile Toronto Pianist Robert Horvath Has Died At Age 52

By Anya Wassenberg on March 14, 2024

(Photo courtesy of the artist/Payadora Tango Ensemble)
Pianist Robert Horvath (Photo courtesy of the artist/Payadora Tango Ensemble)

Award-winning classical, jazz and tango pianist Robert Horvath died yesterday of cancer at the age of 52. The versatile pianist was known in both the classical and jazz worlds, and most recently, as a member of the award-winning Payadora Tango Ensemble.

Payadora blended elements of Western classical music and jazz with Argentine and Uruguayan traditional music, and original songs. The group is currently on a tour to support their award-winning album Silent Tears: The Last Yiddish Tango (2023), which climbed #1 on the World Music Charts in Europe.

Pianist Robert Horvath

Horvath was born in Hungary, and began music studies at the age of seven. When he was 11 years old, he won First Prize at the Hungarian-Russian Competition for Young Pianists, a performance that was broadcast on Hungarian National Radio in 1982.

Robert went on to study at the Bela Bartok Conservatory of Music and at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, where he won a prize for excellence during his last year. He completed a Master’s Degree in Performance and Teaching. In 1995, he won a scholarship to the Hochschule der Kunste in Berlin, Germany.

After his studies, he came to Canada in 1998, where he quickly immersed himself in the music community. Not long after he arrived, he began his recording career, making solo piano recordings for the CTV music library, and many as a soloist with the Sheraton Cadwell’s Orchestras.

Along with his reputation as a classical soloist, he was equally welcome in Toronto’s jazz community, including many gigs performed with noted bassist Dave Young.

Rachmaninoff was among his favoured composers, and he frequently performed with area ensembles, including the York Chamber Ensemble, and in recitals, such as a recent concert series at the McCaskey School of Music. Robert performed often with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, with the CBSO, he performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and Bach’s single, double, triple, and quadruple keyboard concerti in one evening.

With the success of Silent Tears, the Last Yiddish Tango, a song series based on the poems and testimonies of Polish women Holocaust survivors, Robert was on tour with Payadora for most of 2023.

He was also a devoted music educator, and founded the Horvath School of Music in 2002.

The versatile pianist will be missed by many. R.I.P.

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