It’s been a colourful life for David and Gillian Helfgott as Helen Goltz discovers

According to Gillian Helfgott, “not one boring day, ever,” is how she describes the life she has shared with husband, internationally renowned pianist David Helfgott.

The life of the child prodigy labelled a genius, his eccentricity and illness was brought to our attention in the movie Shine, for which Geoffrey Rush took home an Academy Award for his representation of David. The ‘real’ David continues to live and breathe his music and wow audiences. Gillian, the woman by his side for more than three decades, recalls the chaos of their early years.

“The first years were demanding and people doubted why I was with him,” Gillian says. “I fell in love with him; he is the most gentle, nonjudgemental, kind person I’ve ever met. He is very affectionate and wants to love everyone. We could do with a lot more David Helfgotts.”

Their house in the NSW countryside is filled with music; if it is not David playing, classic FM plays all day on the radio.

“He does hours and hours of practice. No pianist in the world could play Franz Liszt without keeping their fingers agile. The works he is performing in Brisbane are huge virtuoso works, all romantic, which is what he loves. This is what the world needs now,” she reflects on the recent sad news stories.

“Without his music, David wouldn’t be with us. It’s his hourly companion, his life and passion. David has reached so many pinnacles but harmony is what we are wanting now.

“This is why I hope David keeps touring because with his smiley face, he shares more joy than most musicians.”

David Helfgott performs Saturday 21 February at the Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank. For more information see our event guide