Helfgott, David

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Helfgott, David Gender: M
born on 19 May 1947 at 08:28 (= 08:28 AM )
Place Melbourne, Australia, 37s49, 144e58
Timezone AEST h10e (is standard time)
Data source
Rectified from approx. time
Rodden Rating C
Collector: March
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 27°07' s_mo.18.gif s_taucol.18.gif 05°04 Asc.s_gemcol.18.gif 10°56'


Australian musician, concert pianist and child prodigy celebrated in the 1996 Australian film, Shine. Helfgott went from a promising career as a youth to a devastating mental illness in his adult life. His life and career were resurrected with the help of his wife and others. After a movie profiling his life was released and applauded at the Sundance Film Festival on 21 January 1996, the pianist went on a successful sold-out world tour in 1997. The film stirred up controversy in the classical music world on how much the movie accurately portrayed the musician's life, whether Helfgott's piano techniques justifies the international stage or if his wife Gillian Helfgott and financial backers were exploiting a vulnerable individual.

Helfgott was the second child of Elias Peter Helfgott, a rabbi's son who emigrated from Poland as a young man. His father encouraged his young son's piano playing early in his life. Despite the financial hardships, his stern, brusque father sacrificed for his son's musical development. His father's strong temper intimidated the boy as he would berate him or shove him off the piano stool for mistakes. His mother, Rachel, loved her son but left the discipline of the kids to her stern husband.

In 1961, Helfgott received an offer to study in America under the tutelage of violinist Isaac Stern. Local contributors wanted to invest in Helfgott's education but his father turned the trip down because he was ashamed of his own limited financial means. In 1966, Helfgott left for London to study at the Royal College of Music, creating a huge rift between father and son. His piano teacher, Cyril Smith noted Helfgott's abilities in 1968 and compared him to the great Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz.

Helfgott suffered a mental breakdown while he was a student at school, checking into the hospital in October 1969. For the next 12 years, Helfgott would come and go into psychiatric hospitals in London and Australia. Today, doctors diagnose Helfgott's mental condition as "schizoaffective disorder." He chatters with a stream of free-associative hyper speed commentary and self-addressed pep talks. He is given medication to control his anxiety and stress, but he is not schizophrenic and may be manic only in the colloquial rather than the clinical sense. Helfgott's dad died in 1975 with father and son unable to resolve their personal conflict.

In 1983, Helfgott was playing piano at a Perth Wine Bar, smoking 125 cigarettes daily and drinking 15 to 20 cups of coffee with five spoons of sugar each, hardly the diet designed to calm down one who was already hyper.

On 30 November 1983 at 1:15 PM, Helfgott was introduced to his future wife, Gillian, an astrologer, at the home of their friend Dr. Chris Reynolds in Perth, Australia. The couple married on 26 August 1984 at 11:57 AM, a date and time chosen by the bride. Helfgott began to perform in concert again in 1986. At the end of May 1986, Independent film maker Scott Hicks approached the couple about putting Helfgott's life on film.

Shine starred Australian actor Geoffrey Rush as Helfgott and garnered the actor the Oscar for Best Actor in 1997. The uplifting independent film created an audience for classical music and garnered seven Oscar nominations. Helfgott released a popular classical recording of Rachmaninoff's Concert No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra. On 16 February 1997, the pianist and his wife embarked on a World Tour. He played the piano during the Oscar telecast in March 1997. His wife signed her book, Love You to Bits and Pieces at the bookstores during the world tour in the cities where he appeared. During his concert tours, classical music critics lashed out about his performance considering the show a spectacle of bad piano techniques. The classical establishment resented Helfgott's sold-out recitals while excellent students worthy of stature go without record contracts and exposure. Helfgott's fans are touched by his story, the heart and soul he displays in his playing and his electrifying, exuberant performance on stage.

Helfgott married his first wife Claire in 1971 and they later divorced. He lived in The Promised Land, a valley near Bellingen in New South Wales with his second wife Gillian who died on 16 August 2022, aged 90.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • opponent/rival/enemy relationship with Woodward, Roger (born 20 December 1942). Notes: Piano competition, 1964
  • spouse relationship with Helfgott, Gillian (born 10 December 1931). Notes: Happily married 1984-2022
  • role played of/by Rush, Geoffrey (born 6 July 1951). Notes: 1996 film "Shine"


  • Family : Change residence 1968 (Moved to London to study music)
  • Mental Health : Anxiety attack 1969 (Nervous breakdown)
  • Social : Institutionalized - prison, hospital October 1969 (Mental hospital-in and out over next 12 years)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 1971 (First wife, Claire)
  • Death of Father 1975 (Conflict left unresolved)
  • Social : Begin Travel 16 February 1977 (Embarked on world tour)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Great Publicity March 1977 (Played piano during Oscar telecast)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Meet a significant person 30 November 1983 at 01:15 AM in Perth, Australia (Future wife, Gillian)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 26 November 1984 at 11:57 AM (Gillian)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Begin Travel 1997 (Began world tour with wife)
  • Death of Mate 16 August 2022 (Second wife, Gillian Helfgott)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Marion March quotes Lynda Hill from Australia, time rectified by Helfgott's astrologer wife. (Chris Turner gave 8:24 AM in AFAN Newsletter)


  • Traits : Mind : Child prodigy
  • Traits : Personality : Personality vulnerable (Nervous, erratic)
  • Traits : Personality : Talkative (Talks all the time, even when playing piano)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Abuse - other addictions (Cigarettes, coffee, sugar)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : ADHD (Manic)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Eating Disorder (15-20 cups coffee-day, five spoons sugar each)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Nervous Breakdown
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Schizophrenia (Schizoaffective disorder)
  • Family : Childhood : Family supportive (Stern father sacrificed for musical development)
  • Family : Childhood : Memories Bad (Father intimidating, strong temper)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (Second wife)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (Two)
  • Family : Relationship : Widowed
  • Lifestyle : Work : Same Job more than 10 yrs (Pianist)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Work alone/ Singular role
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Instrumentalist (Concert pianist)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession