George ( György
|George ( György
|Country of Origin
|Ipolyság (Sahy, Slovakia), Hungary (Austro-Hungarian Empire)
|Date of Birth
|Year of Arrival in Australia
Story of Dr. George Berczeller medical doctor, piano tuner, music composer, pianist-entertainer of operetta, jazz and light medley genre.
From 1958 on, for ten years he was the resident pianist at the Tatra Revue Theatre in Bratislava, the capital. Both the bloodless “Velvet Revolution” national uprising of 1968 and the call of his sister in Sydney, made the Berczeller family migrate to Australia that year.
George and his family felt at home soon after arrival in Sydney. He adopted the stage name of George Best. His success continued on as he played in dance bands, at times as solo performer at special events, some even at the Sydney Opera House. He would entirely produce and play his own concert repertoire, offering a variety of his experience gained as piano accompanist in famous operetta productions from the past. However, he found his permanent niche, regular work, in the café-piano bars of Double Bay in Sydney playing brilliantly medleys of well known songs, classics, traditional jazz, the evergreen and the latest melodies that captivated his audience. At the Cosmopolitan Terrace Cafe and Woodfire Cabaret Restaurant he was a well known fixture able to put his listeners, ordinary people into a very happy mood that he enjoyed observing. The one event that remained etched in his memory is the 4 July 1946, USA’s Independence Day celebration, when the versatile pianist played at a special private reception before General Eisenhower, Marshall Zhukov, General Tassigny and Marshall Montgomery, the WWII Allies military chiefs of the USA, Soviet Union, France and Great Britain. Vienna’s Hotel Bristol was the venue of this unforgettable, once in a lifetime occasion for George.
George was acknowledged by his peers in Europe and Australia as the best piano interpreter of the great Hungarian composer of operettas, Emmerich Kálmán. In 1998, he was invited to perform at the Kálmán commemorative gala concert held by Cologne Radio Orchestra in Cologne, Germany. At the end of his concert he received jubilant accolades from tens of thousands and had met Vera, the widow of Emmerich (there was 49 years age gap between her and her late husband) who, after his rousing performance, openly complimented George saying: “- No one in the world can play Kálmán’s music as you, the Hungarian master, can”.
When he eventually ended up in a retirement home, he was able to entertain fellow residents by playing much loved tunes on the piano there. A truly multicultural gentleman (Hungarian-Slovak-Australian), eminent pianist entertainer George passed away peacefully in Sydney on 20 October 2008, aged 94.
Research: Attila Urmenyhazi (Ürményházi )