Josef Bulva, who died in Monaco on August 12, was an extraordinarily gifted pianist who achieved two astounding comebacks in his career, and who kept recording until recently.
Born in Brno in 1943, Bulva was a child prodigy who was excised ordinary school to follow his vocation. He performed the incredibly difficult Paganini Variations by Brahms at the age of 13, and by the time he was 21 he was recognised as a ‘state soloist’ in the then Czechoslovakia.
After a serious accident he emigrated to the west in 1972, settling first in Luxembourg and then Munich. A second accident, in 1996, involved Bulva falling on black ice and cutting his left hand so seriously it was thought he would never play again.
Bulva recovered and moved to Monaco where he followed two careers, as a pianist and as a financial investor. His last CD was released eight days before he died.
An obituary in Suddeutscher Zeitung refers touchingly to Bulva’s last days: “He remained an outsider. Health, old age and, most recently, serious problems with shoulders and arms drained his will to live, his pianistic vocation and future.”