Peter Serkin, American pianist, born July 24, 1947, is the son of pianist Rudolf Serkin, and grandson of the influential violinist Adolf Busch, whose daughter Irene had married Rudolf Serkin. Peter was given the middle name Adolf in honor of his grandfather.
His concert career began in 1959, when he first performed at the Marlboro Music Festival, a seminal agent and incubator of chamber music performance in the U.S., established in 1951 by the elder Serkin, Hermann and Adolf Busch, along with Marcel, Blanche and Louis Moyse. Following that performance, Peter Serkin was invited to play with major orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy.
In 1966, at the age of 19, Serkin was awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Classical Artist|Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist. Three of his recordings have won Grammy nominations (one of them features six Mozart concertos; the two others feature the music of Olivier Messiaen) and his recordings have won other awards. Serkin was the first pianist to receive the Premio Internazionale Musicale Chigiana award and he received an honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2001.
In 1968, shortly after marrying and becoming a father, Peter Serkin decided to stop playing music altogether. In the winter of 1971, he, his wife, and baby daughter Karina moved to a small rural town in Mexico. About eight months later, on a Sunday morning, Serkin heard the music of Johann Sebastian Bach being broadcast over the radio from a neighbour’s house. As he listened, he says, “It became clear to me that I should play.” He returned to the U.S. and began his musical career anew.