Slovenia's Dubravka Tomsic is something of a connoisseur's pianist, not a marquee name widely known outside of classical music circles, but often listed among the finest players in the world by those in the know. Only now becoming well known in the West, she was a marquee name in the former Yugoslavia and in other Eastern European countries. Born in 1940 in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, she gave her first piano recital at age five. She grew up in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana and studied at the Ljubljana Academy of Music during her childhood. Her talents were noticed by the great Chilean-American pianist Claudio Arrau, who encouraged her to come to the U.S. to study. So, when she was 12, Tomsic moved to New York and enrolled at the Juilliard School, where her primary teacher was Katherine Bacon. The teenaged pianist gave recitals around New York, including one in Carnegie Hall that attracted the attention of Artur Rubinstein. Tomsic studied for two years with Rubinstein, and he called her "a perfect and marvelous pianist." She graduated from Juilliard with two special awards, by which time she had an appearance with the New York Philharmonic under her belt.
After these high-flying beginnings, however, Tomsic chose to return home to Ljubljana. From the late 1950s until the late 1980s she taught at the Ljubljana Academy of Music (where she is still a professor), raised a family, and built a considerable reputation in southeastern Europe. Her return to the U.S. spotlight came in 1989 with an acclaimed performance at the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island, and since then she has played recitals in over a dozen U.S. cities (often finding herself immediately asked back afterward) and around Europe. She has also made concerto appearances with orchestras and performed at several major music festivals. Since 1987 she has released over 60 recordings, including most of the major Romantic concertos and solo piano music from Bach and Scarlatti to Debussy and Rachmaninov.
At the keyboard, Tomsic's reserved demeanor belies the expressivity of her playing. Noted for the variety of tone colors she can coax from the piano and for the power and smoothness of her trills, Tomsic offered performances that often evoked the adjective "seamless." Her "dazzling technique," noted the Boston Phoenix after a Tomsic concert that finally ended after five encores, "is never an end but a means of achieving emotional directness and poetic insinuation."~ Rovi