Felicja Blumental was born in Warsaw, Poland on 28th December, 1908 where she studied at the National Conservatory with Karol Szymanowski, Joseph Goldberg, Zbigniew Drzewiecki and Josef Turczynsky. After taking refuge in France and Luxembourg early in World War II, she received a visa to perform in Brazil in 1942. A successful debut in Rio de Janeiro led Blumental to extensive tours in Latin America performing over 100 concerts.
In the early 1950s she returned to Europe where she made her Wigmore Hall debut and made an outstanding success in Zurich where she was congratulated by Yehudi Menuhin. Blumental also appeared as soloist with the Philharmonia, the RPO, the LPO, LSO and Scottish National Orchestra.
From the 1960s Felicja Blumental made a speciality of music outside the regular repertory, particularly from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, recording Penderecki’s Partita for Harpsichord and Orchestra for EMI as well as recordings for the Decca and Angel labels. She recorded works for piano and orchestra by Clementi, Field, Kozeluch, Czerny, Hummel, Ries and Paderewski, among others.
Appearances in South and North America brought her further acclaim. The LA Times hailed Blumental as “an impeccable technician… (who) left no doubt that 18th-century music is her comfortable speciality” and Billboard defined Blumental as “one of the worlds greatest… played with brilliant technique.”
Her performance in New York with the Mount Vernon Symphony was described by music critic, John D Chequer, as “pianistic virtuosity of such brilliance as is heard too seldom,” and said that he was struck immediately by “that depth of emotional tautness only previously felt during a performance by Vladimir Horowitz. She has the same capacity to project the widest range of dynamics and to lift an audience from complacent listening to breathless anticipation and vicarious participation.”
Felicja Blumental was highly thought of by significant 20th century composers who wrote pieces especially for her. Brazil’s leading composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, dedicated his fifth Piano Concerto to Blumental, which she performed under the composers baton with the leading orchestras of Europe. The concerto was recorded for EMI in Paris with the Orchestre National.
When Krzysztof Penderecki was commissioned to create a new work to mark the 25th anniversary of the Eastman School of Music, he wrote the Partita for Harpsichord and Orchestra, which he dedicated to Felicja Blumental. She played this work worldwide, over 50 times.
In 1978 Witold Lutoslawski orchestrated his “Variations on a Theme of Paganini” for Felicja Blumental, which she premiered with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Brian Priestmann.
Felicja Blumental died in Tel Aviv on 28 December 1991. In 1999, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel’s most dynamic cultural center, named its prestigious International Music Festival after her.