Jan Stragovich was born on April 6, 1935 in Chicago Illinois. He was an only child who had immigrant parents from Poland. Growing up, he was a very shy boy who had a speech impediment and was always picked on. Growing up in the 1940’s was hard for his family because of World War II. He began playing the piano at the age of 5 because his mother wanted him to get a hobby. Jan would never know though what kind of talent he was gifted with. His piano teacher Ron Stavemeister noticed he had incredible talent in playing the piano after just taking a couple of lessons. By the age of 10 he was already playing some of the hardest classical pieces of piano repertoire. He began studying the piano techniques of piano virtuosos like Mozart and Chopin. At the age of 12 he was proclaimed as a child prodigy.
In the year 1948, Jan started performing at some of the most famous classical music halls. He would perform great popular tones by some of the greatest classical composers like Chopin, Bach, and Beethoven. However, Jan composed his own music. He composed classical music that other pianist would try and play as well. He caught the attention of some of the great older pianist like Vladimir Horowitz and Liberace, all of whom held in him in high regards. August 5, 1949, was his biggest stage performance of his career that shocked the world. He played his first concert at Carnegie hall located in New York City, which naturally sold out. The concert was so extraordinary that his work soon received world-renown success. Jan was also performing with some of the most famous orchestras in the world. At the time, he performed with the Chicago and London Symphony Orchestra and toured with them all around the world. He was the first young prodigy to tour all around the world performing concerts in the 1940’s and 50’s.
In 1959 he was married to Nicole Stragovich and they had 2 kids the following year, named Nick and Shaun who happened to be twins. In 1960, at the age of 30, after years of performing sold out concerts he had his first televised concert in Los Angeles. It was performed at the Hollywood Bowl and was announced as one of the biggest concerts that year. The venue sold out and there was a record breaking estimated 5.5 million people that attended. So many people would watch his concerts that he was earning an amount of at least ten million dollars per concert. Jan was the face of entertainment in the 1960’s, and he had earned the nickname “Mr. Virtuoso”. In 1968, he was announced as the highest paid classical pianist and entertainer in the world just in front of Elvis Presley. He would also pop up in different movies performing piano and playing popular tones. That’s one of the reasons his fame increased even more. He was recognized by famous actors like John Wayne and Doris Day.
Cause of Death
In 1975, Jan Stagovich died from a heart attack, at the age of 45. No one knew that he had really bad health problems. He was found dead in his living room floor at his Hollywood Hills mansion. Although a lot of people were shocked by his death, his music would be timeless, and until now people listen to his recordings and look up to him as dedication for what he brought. He sold more than 10 million records in the past 5 years, and in 1980 he had his own statue built back in Chicago, Illinois where he was raised. He is known as a classical legend.
Jesse (Jesimiel) Salva