Jorge may not have been the greatest pianist, but he was always my favourite pianist. (William Livingstone)
Apart from your today unrivalled virtuosity, there is the rarest of poetic elegance in the true Romantic style that revived for me a tradition I thought had ended with my beloved master and friend Josef Hofmann. It lives again in your unique combination of demonic daring, elfin delicacy and soaring lyricism. (Abram Chasins, 5 February 1971)
He used to remark that he would have had a better career if he had been called Boletovsky or Boletinsky! "He was a perfect gentleman, sweet and affectionate, 'una persona dulce, tierno e dulce'." (Teresa Escandon)
"I had seen pictures of him when he was just starting out. His Rudolph Valentino physique heralded an intensely seductive relationship with the world, with a touch of chic like the fruit atop the frosty triangles of glasses holding exotic cocktails: blue lagoons and green ti' punches... I wanted to come face to face with a master: I recognised him as such." (Hélène Grimaud)
I am very grateful to the following people for help:
Christopher Daly, Villanova University, PA, for friendship and for lively discussions about pianists over many years. Alex Newton & James Hunter for helping me set up a website. Lesbia Orta Varona, Cuban Heritage Collection, Coral Gables, Florida. Frank Bell, Atlanta, Georgia. Monica Pasquale, great-niece of JB; David & Jorge Sierra-Bolet, Samuel Bolet, nephews. Houston A ['Tex'] Cummings. Donald Manildi, International Piano Archive, Univ of Maryland, College Park. British Library Free Library of Philadelphia. Susannah Thurlow, Curtis Institute, Philadelphia. Larry Yungk. Francisco Renno. Francis Crociata. Gregor Benko.
JB in St. John's Smith Square, London 1987 in Kreisler/Rachmaninov. He is on superb form, clearly energised by the audience, and I have loved this performance ever since I first heard it then.
Desert Island Discs is one of the longest-running radio programmes in the world. It holds the record for the longest-running factual programme in the history of radio. Originally devised and presented by Roy Plomley, each week a guest ("castaway") is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for their imaginary stay on the island, while discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices. The programme's theme is "By the Sleepy Lagoon" composed by Eric Coates in 1930.
I have also been enjoying recently the Schumann-Liszt transcription of the song Widmung. The performance seems to reflect to perfection JB's soulful, songful genius.
Last updated 17 April 2014.
These pages have been redeveloped and considerably extended from those of the original 2009 site, Halloween, 31 October 2012.
Big in Japan.
A selection of just the Liszt recordings on a visit to Tower Records, Tokyo, April 2013.