Pianist and Composer Thomas Rajna Dies, Aged 92

The Hungarian-born Rajna spent much of his career in London and Cape Town and often performed his own piano concertos


Hungarian-born pianist and composer Thomas Rajna passed away in Cape Town, South Africa, after falling and breaking his hip.

A student of Zoltan Kodaly, Rajna attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music — where he won the 1927 Liszt Prize — and the Royal College of Music. During his time in England, he performed twice at the BBC Proms under Carlo Maria Giulini and Colin Davis.

He spent much of his career in London, where he taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and served as a BBC broadcaster.

In 1970, he began teaching at the University of Cape Town.

Rajna was a prolific composer and pianist. He often performed and recorded his own two piano concertos, in addition to writing two operas entitled "Amarantha" and "Valley Song."

In a Facebook post following Rajna's passing, his son wrote that following Rajna's fall, even though he was in intense physical pain, he "insisted on playing me the last movement of Schumann's Fantasia explaining excitedly how brave and rare it is for a composer to end on a slow movement."

"He went on to give an impromptu lesson on Chopin's Etude No.3. I tried to extricate him from the piano as he was out of breath but he waved me off and I left to the strains of Chopin echoing through the garden and environs," the post reads.

Rajna is survived by his son and other members of his immediate family.

Our condolences to Mr. Rajna's family, friends, students, and colleagues.