Pianist Rudolf Serkin, hailed as both a brilliant performer and a teacher who could inspire young performers to new heights, has died at age 88.

The pianist died Wednesday night of cancer, his publicist, Mary Lynn Fixler, said Thursday.Serkin was born in what now is Czechoslovakia and was sent to Vienna to study piano as a child.

He made his concert debut in 1915 at age 12. He gave his last major concert performance 73 years later, with Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

"All of my orchestra felt, as I did, the undiminished genius of this outstanding musician," Solti said afterward.

He last performed in Utah in 1977.

Serkin founded the Marlboro Music School and Festival on the campus of Marlboro College in southern Vermont in 1950.

He envisioned it as a summer retreat where musicians could gather "for the sheer joy of making music," but it evolved into a full-fledged music festival.

Many of the country's most talented young musicians flocked to Marlboro for the opportunity to play chamber music with Serkin and other masters including cellist Pablo Casals.

He gave his last public performance there in 1989.

In contrast to Vladimir Horowitz, who played with dazzling technique, and Arthur Rubinstein, the Romantic stylist, Serkin had a clean attack and a firmly controlled anti-sentimental approach. Many critics called him profound.

"I believe in a unity in music," he once said. "I don't believe too much in style. If a performance doesn't move you, it is a bad performance."